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By James Dearsley

Co-Founder, Unissu


PropTech Today: Farewell – what we’ve learnt and where do we go next?

I have written this column for over four years. I started writing it at a time when no-one really knew anything about the term ‘PropTech’.

There were no other ‘journalists’ writing about PropTech in the UK.

There were definitely no consultants or strategists, which you see everywhere now.


Everyone is now an expert and everyone has an opinion.

Arguably, it was a risk by EAT to launch a regular column about something that very few people knew anything about. Most were (and arguably still are) sceptical about the use of technology, or, in some cases, new business models.

I must commend both Nat Daniels (Angels Media CEO) and Graham Norwood who took the decision to start the discussion here in the UK. I hope we have all managed to steer the discussion forward for some of you in that time.

In those last four years, the market has changed and as I mentioned earlier, there are now experts everywhere on the topic of PropTech. I genuinely mean there are some experts amongst all that noise!

Back when I started, you could be a generalist in terms of sector specialism and it was fine because it was the technology that mattered.

Understanding how technology ‘could’ change was important.

Now, it is far more about understanding the application of the technology in a particular industry sector. But I might suggest it is becoming even more precise. You need to understand not just the technology, but the particular industry segment and business model it will either support or disrupt.

There is a long, long way to go as the industry evolves. There will continue to be supporters and naysayers amongst all of us and that is why it will take time. It will be a slow evolution and I will continue to support it as much as I can.

With everything exploding at Unissu, my mind is now elsewhere and my priorities have to be there and to build that global community to make a difference to the sector on the whole. I hope some of you will continue to follow that journey.

Before I go, however, I just wanted to summarise a few areas that I feel are going to continue to become important in this changing world. There are some resources I feel you should be aware of that should support your own journey and development in this PropTech arena.

1. PropTech for Good

Set up last year by a good friend, Menno Lammers, PropTech for Good “is a global, cross-industry alliance. The alliance is composed of leaders who are active in the built environment and use technology as a lever to innovate and contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals” - to quote Menno directly... 

If nothing else, it is worth understanding the SDGs to help you as a business look to the future.


I was one of the founding directors of this organisation but resigned my position last year. It was the first Not For Profit Organisation in PropTech and paved the way for others around the world to develop in the same manner.

I still believe the only way to instigate change is to have an NFP agenda and most ‘for profit’ organisations in this area cannot represent members particularly well. They have been making great strides recently and are a great resource for events, roundtables and support.

3. Unissu and RE:Connect

Unissu is now two years old and is growing and growing and growing. The mission is to connect and educate both the buyers and sellers of property technology all around the world. From a real estate perspective, we are a procurement platform, analysing over 9,000 technology providers from around the world.

Keep an eye on RE:Connect, which had its first event on January 7, with over 3,500 attendees from 118 countries. Another will take place on St. Patrick’s Day and well worth being a part of - simply because it was labelled as ‘Burning Man for Real Estate’.

Keep an eye out as we are in discussions for EAT to support RE:Connect moving forward, so there could be some excellent resources to come. 

4. Tech London Advocates - PropTech Working Group

TLA is an ‘unrivalled’ collection of tech leaders, experts and investors uniting to form the most influential group in tech. With no government backing, this is the voice of the private sector in London. This particular group focuses on the PropTech sector and is headed up by Jo Tasker and one definitely to watch as they tackle matters all across the sector.

5. Said Business School - Real Estate Initiative

Way back at the start of this current wave of PropTech, I was contacted by Professor Andrew Baum about his first paper - PropTech 2.0. It was the start of his journey into this new field. Whilst his report at the time I didn’t feel hit the mark, subsequent publications have been excellent and there is a list in here of a great number of them.

It is well worth reading all the historic ones, but also keeping an eye out for new ones coming out.

So, there you have it. Five groups or sites to keep you entertained. Along with the excellent, award-winning journalism at EAT, I hope these continue to help you on our journey to understand more about the future of our industry.

Thank you for reading my column over the years...

*James Dearsley is a leading PropTech influencer and commentator, and is co-founder of PropTech platform Unissu. You can follow James on Twitter here

  • icon

    Dull bit of detail I know...but I've been a proptech consultant since 2010...so they definitely did exist over five years ago James! Wishing you well with your next endeavour.

  • Algarve  Investor

    Good article, James. I've enjoyed your insight throughout the years, and it's definitely a topic that deserves covering. Like you've said before, it may now be a market that is too inflated and full, but at the same time the pandemic has made the need and desire for digital solutions greater than ever.

    I wish you well in your future endeavours.

  • Nat Daniels

    Thanks for your contribution to EAT and of course the whole PT scene over the years James.
    We plan to continue to delve into this subject so watch this space.
    Many thanks and good luck at Unissu.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    James its been a pleasure to see you debate PropTech in both small and epic terms asking the tough questions about where it and our industry is heading. No doubt see you around! Bravo to Nat & Graham recognising the importance of this sector so early on.

  • icon

    Thank you for all the articles and insights James, really enjoyed reading them all. Proptech has definitely made great strides since those early days and you certainly helped me open my eyes to what is possible. Good luck with Unissu and RE:Connect.


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