The Innovation Conversation is a series of Q&A sessions between the real estate technology industry's top leaders and MetaProp NYC Co-Founder and Managing Director Aaron Block. Topics include thoughts on the future of property and technology, corporate innovation activities, and executive development in the real estate technology space.
WHAT ARE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY RESPONSIBILITIES IN YOUR ORGANIZATION?
As the CEO of Fieldlens, I can confidently say that there is no such thing as “day-to-day responsibilities” for the CEO role. All functional heads report to me and it is my job to provide support to any department or individual that needs my help and make sure the team is happy, understands what their goals are, and understands why they are working on whatever it is that they are working on.
DESCRIBE HOW YOU BECAME INTERESTED IN REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION.
While working as a construction project manager for about 11 years, I found that on every project we worked on - large or small - we were faced with communication breakdowns that caused mistakes and delays. I am determined to fix that.
HOW IS TODAY’S REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY DIFFERENT FROM WHEN YOU STARTED YOUR CAREER?
The better question would be, how is it NOT different? It’s different in countless ways. I started working in construction professionally in 1998. I didn’t have a cell phone. I had an email address that I checked maybe three times a week. A week! Any software that was available to us for work was delivered in a box and required loading a CD-ROM.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY-DRIVEN INITIATIVE IN YOUR ORGANIZATION TODAY?
Mobile devices. Incredibly powerful computing power to field-based workers and managers is changing everything.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY ON TOP OF CUTTING EDGE TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS IN REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY?
Primarily listen to our customers - find out what they are developing in terms of advanced workflows as well as what their pain points are. We also pay huge attention to mainstream consumer technology trends - fundamentally we believe that enterprise software must be as intuitive and pleasing to use as consumer apps. We read all of the tech blogs and pay close attention to product releases from Apple, Google, etc.
AS A MENTOR, WHAT IS THE #1 VALUE YOU BRING TO A HIGH-GROWTH REAL ESTATE TECH START-UP?
I built FieldLens from 2 people to 40. I started knowing literally nothing about building technology, marketing, or selling SAAS products. I’ve learned everything “on the job” and I’m eager to share these experiences with other founders who have the requisite industry experience but are just starting to learn about building a technology product and business.
WHO HAVE BEEN YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTORS AND WHY?
I’ve had amazing mentors in the form of investors, advisors and board members. Brad Svrluga (Primary Ventures), Scott Maxwell (OpenView Partners), Oren Michels (Mashery), Matt Rightmire (Borealis Ventures), Glen De Vries (Medidata) have all helped me tremendously because they allowed me to make mistakes and figure things out and at the same time provided me with wisdom gained through building countless businesses. Whenever I feel like I’m dealing with a problem that has never been solved they give me context and make sure I understand that what I’m experiencing is normal and solvable. Pat Muldoon, a former boss in the construction industry, taught me much of what I know about construction and keeps me connected to the industry. And Glen Coates (Handshake) is a peer who is an amazing sounding board and one of the smartest founders in NYC tech.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BUSINESS BOOK?
The Art of Doing Twice The Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland.
WHAT IS ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T ALREADY KNOW?
I love to back-country ski, but unfortunately don’t find nearly enough time to do it these days.