– By Franco Faraudo
In Brad Feld’s book Startup Communities, he lays out the principles that he thinks make for a successful startup ecosystem. One of these principles is “give before you get.” He believes that the act of giving to a community, without any thought of a return, is fundamentally important in building the community’s strength. Plus, from his experience it usually returns more to the giver than they could ever expect.
This struck me because it stands in sharp contrast with how the commercial real estate industry operates. Almost nothing seems to be given without asking for something in return. Because of this, the real estate industry has had a lack of a collectivist community that, in my opinion, often holds it back.
After meeting Andy from Realla, I found a great example of “give before you get.” His UK-based commercial real estate marketing platform released a free property portal last June. They used sophisticated software to ‘crawl’ over 900 property agent websites and offer a free search feature. Already they have over 90,000 listings that are being viewed by 65,000 unique monthly viewers. Their user base is growing by 15% month over month and they already list 3x as much commercial stock as the next biggest portal.
Their phenomenal growth is partially due to the property landscape in the UK. CoStar does not have the same presence in the UK and Loopnet does not exist. The existing commercial portal landscape is weak, and tenants and investors searching for CRE online are not well served. With over 90% of tenants searching online at some point during the acquisition progress, even when using a tenant rep, Andy thought there was a stark disconnect between the way commercial real estate was traditionally marketed, and the way people wish to search for it.