Joseph Nakhla founded a software company in 2012, got into real estate technology, and more recently also entered the world of property management.
Its unusual business model has paid off. Early 2018, Tribe Ownership Technologies had 2,500 to 3,000 units under management and operated from an office in Vancouver. Today, with a growing subsidiary Tribe management, the company has approximately 40,000 housing units under management, seven offices and nearly 200 employees across Canada.
The publicly traded company has also seen a wave of mergers and acquisitions, having bought six companies and formed partnerships with developers and other industry stakeholders.
Tribe Management’s latest merger is with Gateway ownership management at the end of July, which means Gateway properties have moved to Tribe’s IT infrastructure and what the company calls a higher level of security.
“What we do is very, very rare,” said Nakhla, general manager of Tribe. “These are very different worlds which traditionally do not intersect. It’s what makes what we do unique, and not because we’re brilliant. The reason is, frankly, we have the courage to go through the digital transformation requirement, look at someone’s day and see where technology can intersect that.
“Technology is not the silver bullet for solving the problems of life in cities,” he added. “It has its place and we believe we can help residents make better decisions.
“In North America, everyone faces the same types of problems. Communities are changing in size and shape, and they need good, strong management support. Everything the pandemic has done has highlighted the lack of modernization that the industry has struggled with, especially property management. “
Tribe manages condos, specially designed rentals
Nakhla said the growth opportunity has come organically. Strata companies using Tribe’s technology have often told him that the company should enter the service industry. Nakhla said he could see that some property management companies that were licensed to use Tribe’s software might be inconsistent in their service offerings.
Today, Tribe’s management services focus primarily on condo management and the institutional management of large rental projects. The company offers construction and pre-completion software for developers, as well as a post-occupancy platform. The software is licensed to companies across North America.
The real estate industry has had plenty of room to modernize through digitization, especially over the past year, and Nakhla said there is still plenty of room for disruption.
“There have been a lot of investments and big innovations in the way units are sold, the way homes are listed, the way realtors operate – even finding the right mortgage or insurance product has usually gone downhill. been modernized. But in reality the way the community works, or the building, hasn’t changed much in the last 20 or 30 years and we think there are great opportunities there. “
The opportunity has been enormous during the pandemic year. By the end of the first quarter of 2021, he had seen a 250% increase in his income year over year.
The emergence of the proptech sector
Proptech has passed the unicorn assessment phase.
With the pandemic, it has gone from a trend of fear of missing out on investments to now occupying a more measured place according to need within the industry, according to a joint report by PwC and the Urban Land Institute 2021, Emerging trends in real estate. After years of acceleration, funding and the number of proptech transactions declined by 2020.
Today, proptech investment areas focus on business continuity, such as the safe reopening of offices, customer engagement such as virtual sales visits, construction technology, and tools for manage costs and efficiency.
“In an era of increased pressure on the business, real estate companies are looking for solutions to manage their costs, especially those that are not passed on to tenants,” the report said. “From tools for monitoring buildings remotely to project management software that streamlines operations on a single platform, interviewees told us how the pandemic has accelerated their search for efficiency with proptech. “
Nakhla said his business growth has come from several areas, including condominium companies looking for digital tools to manage their buildings and connect residents, or developers looking to create digital construction and post-occupancy management. . Buildings are virtually represented to manage systems remotely and efficiently.
“We have seen a huge increase in the desire of communities to move towards digital tools, something as basic as’ Hey, we live in this community and we have a great gym. We are trying to figure out how to use the gym safely. A lot of people are looking to do things paperless, like paying fees online, contacting the concierge online. This digital transformation has frankly accelerated a bit during the pandemic, ”said Nakhla.
Another source of growth is developers who want to reduce their costs by offering digital tools such as digital manuals, warranties and detailed reports on construction defects. Tribe technology connects residents, boards, developers, owners and trades.
“And a third, very important bucket is that we are seeing a lot more rental-oriented communities, whether they are institutional developers or co-owners who are starting to get into rental development and building rental properties,” Nakhla said. “And that’s a longer take now. You see more from real estate developers. They say ‘okay, we’re good at building condos. We would like to start building communities, ”and they don’t have the desire or the manpower to manage it on their own. We help them design or structure the economy that surrounds it, the operational economy.
Because the company has entered the condo market, it has also undertaken mixed-use projects with retail businesses.
“A little-known fact about us is that we manage almost 1.5 million square feet of commercial real estate, but the reason we don’t talk about it much is because it’s part of our business. involvement in whole new mixed-use communities. They are coming into the market, they have retail and office and mostly residential.
“Because we have a holistic approach to management, we end up managing the business side. We have the capacity to do it. “