The Innovation Conversation is a series of Q&A sessions between the real estate technology industry's top leaders and MetaProp 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 a co-founder of BuiltWorlds, I am responsible for a bevy of different things. My core responsibility, however, is leading BuiltWorlds' efforts on revenue generation and enterprise partnerships. In this capacity, I am ensuring that all of our conferences generate a certain margin of revenue and that we are on a path to continued growth based on not just sponsorship dollars, but on overall excitement from the events. That excitement stems from our thought leaders and attendee experience.
Working with enterprise partners from companies as large as Dewalt and CAT to our valued partners at MetaProp also remains a core part of my responsibilities. Occasionally, I will do some speaking engagements for our non-profit partners as well.
DESCRIBE HOW YOU BECAME INTERESTED IN PROPTECH AND INNOVATION.
While I have been involved in the building and real estate industry for much of my career, my heavy interest and excitement around PropTech and innovation didn't truly begin until I started my journey as a co-founder of BuiltWorlds in 2014. At the time, Matt Gray, the other co-founder of BuiltWorlds, and myself tried to help companies in the building industry adopt technology as a research company. We quickly realized, though, that there was a much larger need to educate the lagging industries who make up about $9-$11 trillion of the GDP. Fast forward to today and we have built the largest network of thought leaders in the building industry through our interest in educating the PropTech and building community.
IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS, WHAT AREA OF THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY DO YOU THINK WILL CHANGE THE MOST DRAMATICALLY?
Co-working space will change the most dramatically. Look at WeWork, which is on pace to build 1 million square feet a month globally starting this year. They are going to change the industry in a way it's never seen, and more players will emerge in that space as well.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY DRIVEN INITIATIVE IN YOUR ORGANIZATION TODAY?
Education and adoption are vital. That is our sole purpose as a media company poised to educate, connect, and bring thought leaders together. In the near future, we will be able to have our members connect with each other digitally as well, so thought leaders don't need to always travel to connect with one another, or go through our employees. Those connections will help people adopt innovation more rapidly, which while not a specific technology, is an initiative that makes everyone in PropTech stronger.
WHAT ROLE HAVE MENTORS PLAYED IN YOUR SUCCESS? HOW WOULD YOU ADVISE OTHERS TO DEVELOP STRONG RELATIONSHIPS WITH MENTORS?
My original mentor, Michael Silver, who was Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008 nationally, opened my eyes to the entrepreneurial world and how exciting it could be. He also taught me the importance of relationships. The best way to develop a strong relationship with a mentor is to simply reach out and keep in touch. That's the hardest part, and from there you will find most mentors are willing to not only help, but introduce you to others who can help in ways you may not even be aware of. Relationships are key, and there is no replacement for having a good mentor who you have good connection with.
WHAT IS ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T ALREADY KNOW?
I am a 6-time Chicago Marathon runner on behalf of the charity Imerman Angels, with whom I have been on the board of for over 10 years. (Best time 3:25:00)