What CRE Startups Can Learn from the Most Successful Tech Companies

The News Funnel

It’s an incredibly exciting time in the CRE tech sector. When I entered the field in 2011, it initially felt like a ghost town. Fast forward to today and it feels like Times Square!

Inevitably though, there will be a lot of pain coming in the CRE tech space as the sector experiences its first wave of failures, consolidation and distressed exits. I certainly plan to do all I can to make sure my site isn’t one of them 🙂 .

Having followed literally hundreds of real estate startups over the past few years, I see so many sites that are born from really cool ideas, solve real problems and have all of the bells and whistles you would expect to see in a startup. Yet, something fundamental is missing that will prevent many of them from succeeding.

If you look a the most successful startups in tech overall (Amazon, AirBnB, Google, Facebook, Uber, etc) you will see many share one fundamental truth…they are all incredibly simple to use.

And while I get that ordering a cab or renting a vacation home or doing a simple search is far different than working in commercial real estate, I am convinced that simple, intuitive design is the only way to succeed in building an effective startup, no matter the sector.

Some good reads below on the importance of design in building a tech site…

In the real estate world, many of the sites that are already succeeding are the ones that get this…

  1. Brevitas
  2. VTS
  3. Hightower
  4. Compstak
  5. TheSquareFoot
  6. PivotDesk
  7. Fundrise
  8. Honest Buildings
  9. LiquidSpace
  10. Floored

In my opinion, a good site has to do several things like the Airbnb’s and Uber’s of the world:

  1. Visually appealing. Choose the right colors to spur action and positivity (there is an entire art of selecting colors).
  2. Show the product in action. Being able to see it goes a long way in getting someone engaged.
  3. Be intuitive. It should lead you to where you want to go.
  4. Force action. If you can get someone to actually engage on their first visit, you are way ahead of the game.
  5. Be friendly. There is no excuse for not having a highly visible way to reach out and email or call a live human being to get help.

While I know real estate, commercial in particular, is a very complex, multifaceted industry, I also realize now more than ever (and yes I am talking to the CEO of The News Funnel here too) that simplicity will win in the tech space. Taking the most complex tasks and making them simpler and easier seems so fundamental to building a new site but unfortunately, many of us make the mistake of making the complicated even more so.

So while funding, revenue and marketing are hugely important, obviously, perhaps good design is just as important and unfortunately often overlooked.

We in the startup world can learn from the sites mentioned above, they seem to already know this!

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