PartyTech, BabyTech, InsurTech … It seems that these days, just about anyone can slap a random word in front of “tech” and build up an entire new industry. One of these seemingly arbitrary fields is “PropTech”, which appears to cause more confusion than it should. But actually, PropTech, or Property Technology, has a fairly straightforward definition: Technology that helps brings the property industry into the 21st century. It’s that simple. PropTech is any and all technology in the property/real estate market.

We haven’t even started to look at what startups fit within this definition (but since you asked: AirBnb, Nest, Settled, Zillow), and people are already asking questions. So let’s answer them together.
“Where did PropTech come from? Should I take it seriously or is this just another buzzword that will soon fade?”
No – PropTech is massively disrupting the property market from just about every angle and is here to stay. In the first half of 2016 alone, real estate tech startups raised more than $1.8 billion across more than 100 deals (CBInsights). Like with any innovation, PropTech came from the simple need for change in a stagnant industry – and it seems that the property industry is especially full of pain points. Most of us have experienced difficulties, or at the very least annoyances, in this all-encompassing field, from dealing with unctuous real estate agents to taking out a mortgage. The startups that cater to these issues are the ones paving the way in the property market.


“…so which startups are paving the way?”
It’s been argued that PropTech emerged from the advent of property search engines, such as Trulia and Zillow. The most disruptive one so far is, of course, AirBnb – but in such a new field, we’re constantly seeing creative disruptors pop up onto the scene. That’s why Union Investment and GTEC have initiated the world’s first PropTech Innovation Award, dedicated to finding and honoring the startups that are taking on the property industry.


“That sounds cool. I want to apply but I’m still not sure if my startup is a good fit for the award. Help?”
That’s one of the positive aspects of such a broad field: it’s all-encompassing and you can be sure that if your startup is even tangentially related to real estate, buildings, properties, even construction, then you are a good fit for the award.

…still not sure?

Fine. Here’s a list of keywords that might help:

Real Estate Investing, Agent Matching Services, Tech-Enabled Brokerage, Real Estate Agent Tools, Information & Listing Platforms, Simplified Property Search & Renting Process, Interior Design, Virtual Viewing, Interaction & Communication of Tenants, Landlords & Service Providers, Marketplace for Service Providers, Community Engagement, Neighborhood Networks, Property Sharing, Real Estate Data & Analytics, Tools & Software for Real Estate, IoT Home, Facility management, Property Management, Home Services, Construction Management, Indoor Mapping


“I guess my startup doesn’t fit the criteria, but now I’m curious to enter this arena. What’s the hardest part about getting into the field of PropTech?”
There’s a reason PropTech is constantly being compared to FinTech: both have had to enter well-established fields with behemoth players that won’t take lightly to any attempt at disruption. But if you can’t beat them, join them. It is absolutely vital to partner with the more traditional players in order to instigate any sort of real change. For example, Trussle, an online mortgage broker, has partnered with banks in the mortgage space; Fixflo, a property repair software, partners with a number of property software providers and real estate agents; and Nest, of course, partners with your established energy company.

PropTech is by no means an easy field to enter, but it is easy to disrupt, and this is where GTEC comes in. We bring startups, corporations, academia and the community together under one roof, and the PropTech Innovation Award Ceremony in May aims to do the same. During the Ceremony, the ESMT Berlin campus will be buzzing with the hottest PropTech startups, which will be a natural magnet for curious corporations and VC firms hoping to get a piece of the property pie.

So if you want to become hot property, we’ll see you there.


To learn more about the PropTech Innovation Award with GTEC and Union Investment, click here:

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