By Jack Stubbs
In the current real estate market, tech-based platforms are increasingly being utilized by companies as a means to stay ahead of the curve and ahead of other competitors in the market. AtlasX, a platform founded in 2016 in New York, is a platform that looks to standardize and streamline the deal-making process for investors.
We recently spoke with founder Anthony Dominguez about the services the platform provides its clients, how the platform looks to streamline the property management process for real estate investors, and the current state of the commercial real estate market.
What are some of the day-to-day services that the platform provides and who are some of the company’s primary clients?
The user profile is simply real estate investors that are deploying capital. This usually comes in the form of investment managers. Our users are technology savvy and come from all asset classes and parts of the capital stack. They’re entrepreneurial and forward-thinking and actively seeking returns from new frameworks and strategies.
On any given day, deals in the hundreds of millions of dollars enter the platform. From there, a firm-specific workflow is applied to manage the moving pieces of the deal, while the system tracks burn down to exclusivity periods, due diligence timelines, and other major milestones. To pull all of that knowledge share together, we automate reports that contain customizable key performance indicators to the deal team.
A lot of what we do is highly confidential as we’re powering the investment engine at an institutional level. As such, we maintain strict confidentiality, but it’s many of the familiar names that you already know at the institutional and middle market level.
The platform is unconstrained demographically speaking. We support interchangeable measurements such as square meters and square feet, 168 different currencies with real time FX conversions to a master currency, and region and market maps. We serve clients in the U.S., U.K., Europe, and Singapore.
How does the platform seek to streamline the overall workflow and communication process between commercial real estate investors?
Our users create a customized action plan and can configure dynamic assignees based on deal criteria. When it comes time to move a deal from ‘letter of intent’ into due diligence for instance, it’s a matter of selecting an action plan to spin up an instant workflow.
From an executive level, there’s reports for auto-distribution to get a thirty-thousand-foot view of the investment pipeline. We even show how advanced stage acquisitions will affect the profile of their fund. These kinds of reports would typically be done on a semi-annual basis and require a massive undertaking to accomplish. Our clients get this via automation.
In an industry that has traditionally been based on establishing personal and face-to-face relationships, how is the increasing prevalence of tech-based platforms changing the industry?
It’s pretty hard to do a deal with someone that you don’t know, so personal relationships are still paramount. Technology like AtlasX isn’t trying to replace the human element of deal making. Rather, platforms like ours are supplementing back-office processes and automating the repetitive workflow associated with real estate investment. This affords investment teams with greater bandwidth to survey the market and source higher quality deals.
To what degree do you think AtlasX—and platforms like it—are addressing an inefficient workflow in terms of the way that acquisitions and deals are monitored and tracked by partners, brokers and sellers? In the current era, what is the importance of centralizing this data?
AtlasX has a feature called “Deal Tracking Automation” on top of the pipeline management. We monitor deals in the pipeline to notify teams when a deal trades to a competitor along with pricing details. Other alerts include an upcoming debt maturity date, property use change, new loan origination, and property tax increases. It’s game changing now that our clients’ transaction data is no longer siloed from the real world, and instead have a scorecard against the market. I believe that centralizing your data is only the first step. Surfacing pipeline data through real world triggers like a debt maturity is the key to off market deal making and ultimately outsized investment returns.
In your view, how has the commercial real estate industry been changing over the last several years, and what broader factors have continued to the evolution of the field?
I believe the most influential factor catching up to real estate is the offline to online play that has happened with nearly everything in the economy. It’s not just retail bearing the brunt end of e-commerce or last mile industrial enjoying the rise of urban living. It’s going even deeper than that with technology-first companies taking ownership of the bricks.
Take WeWork acquiring the Lord & Taylor building. Regardless of your thoughts on their business model, like the first big waves surfers, they proved that it could be done. In their wake, they’ve made room for companies like Opendoor, Zillow Instant Offers, and now even Travis Kalanick with City Storage Systems. If I were an investment manager, I would be paying very close attention to the scene of tech first real estate investing and looking to leverage and out compete with my proprietary data.
In the current era of CRE tech, successful products are those that are easy to use. Is there a steep learning curve affiliated with the product, and does the software behind the platform scale effectively across different devices and contexts?
We don’t try to reinvent the wheel with user interfaces; we keep things simple so that from analyst to chairman, anyone can pick up our platform and intuitively get to what they’re looking for. It’s incredibly important for our app to scale across devices because so much of real estate is out of pocket.
Currently, we serve commercial, residential and hospitality property investors. The platform is customizable and for that reason we can support every kind of place-maker. We have no plans to step outside of the real estate world. Going forward, the platform will build off it’s workflow and intelligence. The intersection of institutional real estate investing and modern software is where we want to stay.
Is there anything that concerns you about the rapid rate at which the commercial real estate industry is changing due to the prevalence of tech-based platforms? Are we at a crossroads in the industry?
I believe that the abuse of personal privacy by social media should be a wake up call to everyone including the commercial real estate industry. There is no doubt that implementing technology frameworks on top of old school business processes provides value, but I think companies should be asking themselves who they are giving data to and how is it being used.
Is there anything else that you would like to add or anything else that we should be talking about?
The overall velocity of the CRE tech landscape is just humbling. It’s hard to imagine just a couple of years ago that Elon Musk would be tackling affordable housing with Lego bricks, yet here we are. I’m super stoked by the potential of both known and unknown entrepreneurs alike and their impact on the built world.