Building Your Own Accelerator
Even if your company is not investing in the accelerator space, there are ways to stay on top of new technologies that can help improve your business.
Through its participation in accelerators and seed stage technology investing, Waterton Associates found a product that estimates what pricing should be for amenities and specific products, which estimates what it should be pricing for amenities and specific products, such as a wood-plank floor or granite or quartz countertops.
“It helps us estimate what we should be pricing for each of those things and what its worth in various markets,” says Eric Potter, Director of Applied Innovation for Waterton Associates. “If quartz is worth $10 in extra rent and granite is worth $8, they use massive data sets and backs up its predictions using statistically driven machine learning to automate those algorithms. It is good to be able to validate our pricing with hard numbers and calculus to say were right, wrong or close.”
Even if you are an apartment owner who does not have the scale to invest in the accelerator space, there are ways to stay on top of new technologies that can help improve your business.
Potter suggests reaching out to local universities in your area.
“Almost every university system has an innovation program and incubator,” he says.
Potter finds student entrepreneurial pitch days, where students present their ideas to businesses, as especially valuable. At a pitch day at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship, Potter found a company that uses tech-enabled on-demand hotel style house cleaning.
“We loved the founders, we loved what they were doing, we loved the company and it fit our business model,” he says.
If there is not a university near you, there are other options.
Cities are starting to become sponsors of innovation. Potter says Chicago has 1871, which is a co-working, mentorship and innovation space. A quick Google search or a call to the local Small Business Administration can tell you if your city has a similar innovation program. Just remember to have an open mind when you are looking at these technologies.
“You will find a lot of interesting technologies that might not be real estate-specific, but if you are a real estate person, and you see them, they will get your creative juices flowing. They might strike you enough that you envision a way for them to positively impact your business,” Potter says.
If you do find a school or local city program that fosters innovation, you will usually find receptive entrepreneurs.
“A lot of these start-ups love to have conversations with existing businesses and not only because you might be a potential customer,” Potter says. “If they can talk to people on your tech team and operators, they can get feedback about how they are designing stuff. It is almost free feedback from a customer.”
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