By Meghan Hall
The advent of COVID-19 has accelerated a number of trends already taking root within the commercial real estate industry, especially technological integration. While the number of CRE-related tech firms has exploded in recent years, well-established firms are also seeing tremendous growth of their own. The Registry recently spoke with Coyote Software CEO and Founder Oli Farago on investor and fund manager demand for tech-driven solutions designed for the CRE industry.
Please tell The Registry a little bit about Coyote Software, which specializes in cloud-based management software for the commercial real estate industry. What do your products offer your clients, and why is this technology valuable to the industry?
Coyote Software is an award-winning commercial real estate platform transforming the way acquisition teams, asset managers and property managers oversee assets globally. Our platform is used by these professionals to review more deals, underwrite investment opportunities, place more bids and monitor their deal pipelines more effectively. Asset managers use our software to log and track the market, increase efficiency across remote teams managing diverse portfolios, and better assess risks and new opportunities.
Coyote Software was born out of M7 Real Estate, a fund and asset management business founded in 2009. From day one, M7 made the decision to put technology at the heart of its business, and market research failed to deliver a viable solution. I was one of the founding partners of M7 and had experience coding software. I moved into the basement (kidding), grew a beard (that remains today) and built the first Coyote Software prototype. Through many iterations, that fledgling software grew to support the growth of the company from $0 in assets under management, one office and 10 founding partners to a pan-European company with over 250 employees and $9.3 billion in assets under management (AUM) in only eight years.
That’s what Coyote Software was built to do – give forward-thinkers in commercial real estate the competitive tools they need to analyze portfolio data alongside market data, and use those insights to buy and manage assets more efficiently. Since our inception, Coyote has been used to track and manage more than $300 billion in AUM.
Based on your data and insights, what has been the impact of COVID-19 on real estate portfolios and investment strategies?
The ripple effects of COVID-19 have been especially challenging for the commercial real estate industry. We’ve seen many clients face these challenges head-on by leveraging their data through Coyote’s platform to make quicker, more informed decisions. Even before the pandemic, we were starting to see a real shift in demands from the investor and fund management community regarding the speed, frequency, consistency and efficiency of how they manage and interpret their data. The current climate of transformative change and uncertainty, coupled with the inevitable move toward a remote and flexible work environment, amplified and accelerated this demand.
Business has picked up significantly as COVID-19 has taken hold—why do you think this is?
COVID-19 has forced many industries to fast track their digital strategies, and commercial real estate is no exception. First-hand, we are seeing increased interest from fund, investment and asset management companies that are starting to realize the power of technology and data in increasing efficiency and productivity when acquiring, disposing and managing assets.
Cloud-based technology like Coyote was helping commercial real estate businesses conquer these challenges long before COVID-19, providing its clients with remote and mobile access to business-critical data. It proved valuable when team members were not able to meet in person on time-sensitive matters, for any variety of personal reasons. These challenges have been compounded by the pandemic, and technology exists to simplify and expedite the process of buying and managing assets. One key feature of Coyote that is very well-received by new clients is our ability to onboard fully remotely. Not only that, but our agile setup and approach to working means that we are able to roll out requested features and enhancements quickly directly in response to our clients’ needs and feedback.
Technology investment in commercial real estate used to be seen as a “nice to have”, but today, it is imperative for real estate teams to be able to collaborate, review and transact deals remotely.
By how much has business grown?
We signed more than 10 new clients since lockdown began in March 2020, and we’ve onboarded several new full-time team members, entirely remotely. In addition, we’ve shipped eight significant product releases – a notable majority of which were sourced directly from client feedback. One such example is our enhanced portfolio analysis function that enables users to analyze and filter broad data sets from multiple sources, at an incredibly granular level.
You are based in London — What are the company’s plans for expansion? What markets will you target next and why?
In January 2020, we opened a new office in Manhattan – headed by our Vice President of Sales, Greg Gonzalez who joined our team in January. Despite the impacts of the pandemic, Greg’s leadership and our fully remote customer success team has successfully launched us in the U.S., and there is a lot to look forward to in the future. International expansion is a massive undertaking, but not being able to be physically present as the CEO is a new experience for me.
As technology continues to infiltrate the CRE industry, what strategies is Coyote Software employing in order to remain competitive?
Our main priority, based on years of experience working with some of the most prominent real estate companies in the world, is to build a platform that gives commercial real estate teams a single source of truth and a forum to collaborate on in-progress deals. In order to accomplish this, industry partnerships are crucial. From partnering with our clients to develop new functionalities that address fast-changing needs, to partnering with other best-in-class technology platforms and third-party data providers, collaboration underpins everything we do, and drives us to continually innovate.
As you look ahead, what trends in technology and data analytics do you believe will be particularly important to the real estate industry? Why?
The commercial real estate industry is becoming increasingly aware of the competitive advantages that come with leveraging data. At this moment in time, the companies harnessing cloud-based, data-backed tools like Coyote Software are light years ahead of those that are not. M7 is a testament to the positive change that digital tools can bring to CRE organizations, and those that choose to follow in their footsteps will quickly see increased effectiveness and efficiency. In time, as more organizations catch on, advanced technology and data analytics will be the only way for these companies to compete and preserve their legacies.
The companies innovating during these unprecedented times to reinvent the way their teams collaborate and transact will attract the most innovative, forward-thinking talent as well. “Perks” as simple as spending less time on manual administrative tasks are already a draw for emerging industry leaders. This trend and the talent wars can be expected to continue.