Gmaven offers data-driven solutions to the proptech industry
The use of terms such as Proptech and Fintech (popular buzzwords in today’s tech scene) would have raised eyebrows just 16 years ago. During this period, the technology was only marginally accepted in businesses and economies.
Gmaven looked at the real estate industry and decided to go for it. The company joined in 2006, leveraging technology to deliver commercial real estate solutions to clients around the world. Given the early efforts, it’s no surprise that Gmaven is now considered “Africa’s largest B2B commercial real estate marketplace”.
In a conversation with TechnextCEO Will Harris reiterates our previous comment:
Thinking back to 2006, the use of words like PropTech and FinTech would have had puzzled looks. The iPhone wasn’t due to arrive until 2008, and Instagram and WhatsApp were three and four years away from birth. Uber and Airbnb didn’t exist and Facebook was only two years old. Technology adoption, beyond internet banking and mobile phones, has been limited to early user groups. People were still using fax machines!
He adds, “PropTech, although lagging behind the FinTech sector, is no longer an unusual word for industry players and VCs..”
But Gmaven has “taken up” the challenge of ensuring the “the commercial real estate industry has run on data.“Today, the biggest players in the industry use active data to provide the best solutions.
Harris says these players are making more money than those who haven’t moved down the line.
”Industry players who can manage and process data can provide superior service, identify smarter insights, and earn more money...With automation, time-consuming and repetitive processes can be reduced from hours to button clicks. This distinguishes between professionals using automated processes and the group that still performs many processes manually today.
Gmaven leverages data to deliver value in the African CRE space.
Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, the company is driven by a pivotal mission”From the manual-intensive world of CRE, skip the “messy middle” of human-data-software hybrid solutions and jump straight into a world of technology-driven commercial real estate processes.”
According to Harris, the interest comes from wanting to influence Africa’s contributions to global CRE data which is “generally unstructured and unstandardized”.
Fighting Apathy in the Proptech Space
Getting people and businesses to accept new ways of doing things can be difficult. Without a clear definition of benefits, apathy ensues and there will be barriers to adoption and acceptance.
Harris shares this sentiment on the acceptability of the technology in the African Proptech space:
”Apathy, or reluctance to embrace technology, is indeed a barrier to industry advancement. But this is a very rational response from the buy side. For PropTech to be useful to users, the particular solution must be unquestionably superior to traditional pen and paper and Excel solutions.
The passionate Proptech promoter adds: “More mature features mean greater value for users. It is in the hands of PropTechs that it falls to exercise discipline and laser focus scarce resources to deepen the maturity of solutions. When the added value is evident, users will be incentivized to adopt – and perceived apathy will dissolve.”
Gmaven runs on automated processes to deliver value to users and consultants. The processes cover transaction management, reporting, report generation and report design. The approach has succeeded in endearing the business to landowners and CRE consultants including CBRE, JLL, Cushman and Wakefield Broll.
In a market where data-driven solutions drive success, Harris says the company is entrenched in delivering value around centralized data and collapsed processes.
”This industry (CRE) runs on data. We bring value here by centralizing data and consolidating processes into one cloud-based solution. This improves data quality, which improves decision making and turnaround times, and reduces tedious data work.”
With this value, people are “more empowered” and businesses served by Gmaven become ”more profitable”.
Exploit the untapped
Harris believes that there are barriers to CRE entry efforts, leading to acceptance and penetration issues.
”With the continued proliferation of data, the use of mobile, the increased adoption of algorithmic thinking, the advent of blockchain and the age of IoT, there are opportunities for new technologies to be applied everywhere. you watch. I would argue that the world of CRE with high barriers to entry into domains has lower technology penetration than residential real estate.
For a market that has just come back to life, Harris recommends caution in exploring untapped potential:
”I can confidently say that all of these trendy solutions must be built on the “shining foundations” of reliable, mastered and standardized data assets. His absence is a constraint.”
Deepening Proptech Growth
According to Harris, a clear lack of public sector capacity is the biggest challenge to Proptech’s growth and impact on the continent.
”I don’t think regulation limits the growth of the industry. But the lack of competence in the public sector is.“
Harris says the industry will benefit from adopting Kenya’s public sector-led initiatives: “Effectiveness of property transfers (Kenya is doing some cool stuff there), digitizing and improving public sector data management, improving ethics and service delivery at local government level , stability and business-friendly policies at the national government level, and the provision of basic infrastructure will do much to accelerate investment and growth fueled by the real estate sector.”
Speaking on the trends that will shape proptech in Africa and around the world this year, Harris says, “I get it wrong every year, mostly because I’m too optimistic.”
He added, “For Africa, assuming VC capital continues to be constrained, I would bet on more collaboration between PropTechs, formation of industry bodies and standardization of data protocols. Decision-making will become more data-driven, and technology will continue to permeate ownership-related processes – both by industry insiders and outsiders. These bets become much more ambitious if the funding arrives.”
On the global stage, Harris said consolidations and the rise of remote working will bring more attention to Africa.
Globally, there is talk of consolidations and a slowdown in venture capital funding in the most developed markets. Given the labor shortage in the United States and the increase in remote work, this may require and facilitate the export of work processes to low-cost geographies – which is a good news for Africa.
Charting the future of proptech in Africa
Over the next few years, Gmaven wants to influence the creation of a pan-African body for the CRE industry and deepen market intelligence to deliver solutions.
”We will support the long-awaited creation of a pan-African body focused on ethics and professionalism for commercial real estate advisors. In an effort to improve the marketing of vacant spaces, we plan to complete the integration into Prop24 and provide API endpoints for specialist CRE website developers.
”With a focus on data analytics, we seek to provide deeper market insights and additional data-driven business intelligence solutions (especially regarding energy consumption).”
For Gmaven, it is “an honor to have an impact on an industry that we love very much”. The African CRE and Proptech industry seems to be in good hands for good times.
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