From laying off 35% of its employees in April, to becoming a publicly traded company valued at $4.8 billion via merger with Social Capital Hedosophia in September, Opendoor has been the talk of the tech world as they reinvent how people buy and sell homes.

Opendoor’s co-founder, Ian Wong, spoke about the company’s meteoric rise at a recent TechTO event. Beyond the headlines, massive valuation, and all the trappings of success–when you hear the process behind scaling to unicorn status is fraught with trials and tribulations common to many a startup venture, it gives you greater perspective and confidence in pursuing your own ambitions. Their team certainly has grit, considering they’ve been on the journey since 2013, which I had been following closely as I formed my own Proptech business around the same time. Ian shared a few points about his experiences in building the team behind a once-in-a-generation company:

  • Look at talent as T-shaped. Find people that are well-versed in a particular area of expertise, yet with the ability to collaborate across disciplines.
  • Everyone must take ownership of their work, for instance doing what you say, or shipping on time.
  • Have a shipping cadence in one to two week sprints, with a sense of urgency to deliver better software continuously for your customers, as they are the highest priority.
  • Perform weekly retros to determine where you can improve.
  • Evangelize, reinforce, preach, and educate on the vision constantly.
  • Write good documentation about your company’s knowledge-base, which will make it easier to scale teams.
  • Hire not only for skills, but more importantly values, and mission.

Shaping the Future of Proptech with GIS

“A framework to organize, communicate, and understand the science of our world.”

– Esri on GIS

Global real estate is an asset class more valuable than all stocks, shares, and securitized debt combined, at $228+ trillion. There are remarkable technologies pushing the boundaries of the industry’s evolutionary curve–Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, 3D printing, drones–yet in terms of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), it is seemingly difficult to find consumer technology for those that could benefit from it the most. Guarded behind expensive paywalls reserved for esoteric means.

Zillow et al. have dominated the wide end of the funnel searching for real estate, and while it’s hard to argue the value these portals bring to their audience in terms of exposure, inventory, and liquidity, I feel there is much left to be desired. Credit is due for giving capital-intensive data away for free, but beyond the rudimentary displaying of information, data is most effective when telling stories, revealing obscure trends, and fostering greater transparency.


Streaming Real Estate Data

Big data in real estate is a prime use case for real-time stream processing–a programming paradigm that allows us to instantaneously respond to data as it arrives. It is the antithesis to batch processing, whereby all data is loaded into memory before it is delivered and processed. The real estate profession is truly a matter of time is money–if an appraisal is a day late, or there is a lack of efficiency in the transaction process, it could lead to a deal collapsing, putting the livelihood of all parties involved at stake.

The time sensitive nature of real estate demands a level of immediacy–from responding to client enquiries (now typically automated by chat bots), validating big data as it is imported into a data lake, or generating an estimate of property value upon offer request (in the iBuyer space). Real-time streaming and data processing provide the mechanisms for organizations to generate business value from their data and outperform the competition.

Streaming Real Estate Data Lake AWS
Amazon Data Lakes and Analytics