If you want to get ahead as a developer, you can’t afford to ignore the evolving market that new technology is opening up. We talk to the founders of Nimbus Maps to explain how leveraging data can help SMEs be more successful, and explore the defining role data will play in the future of the property industry.
Full transcript of episode here
Hi all and welcome to Brick by Brick the podcast of the property development industry. My name is Ian Humphreys and I am a co-founder of Brickflow and one of your hosts. Each week we will be speaking to experts and stakeholders from across the property development sector. We will share ideas and advice on how to get ahead of the game as a developer. As well as trends and insights from across the sector. The series is designed for all experience levels, whether you’re just starting out on your property development journey or you are an industry veteran. We will handpick topics with universal appeal so that we can all continue to learn. We would also love you to share the podcast with your development industry network. Our mission through Brickflow and the podcast is to make development finance better. Every year somewhere between a third and a half of all SME property developers sight the lack of finance as the main reason they don’t build more. Its only through raising awareness of the problems that developers face that we will improve. The more people that hear this, the more the industry will pay attention and the better it will become for all of us. So please share as far and wide as you can. We also really want you to join the conversation if you have any suggestions for future topics or guests or thoughts on any of the podcasts, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch through LinkedIn or Facebook or email us at email@example.com. I hope you enjoy the show.
This week I am delighted to welcome brothers Paul Davies and Simon Davies from Nimbus Maps. Nimbus Maps is a software service designed to help anyone that wants to invest in property. By giving them access to reams of data, that will help them in their investment decisions. If you haven’t seen it, I will let the guys explain a bit more about how it works. I would highly recommend it to anyone and in fact we do mention it on pretty much every person we have a demo with on Brickflow. Anyway, let’s find out a bit more about them, so welcome to the show Paul and Simon.
Thanks for having us on.
No problem, good to see you guys, and what we would like to start with is for you guys to introduce yourselves and to tell us a bit more about your background, your careers to date and more importantly what attracted you to the property sector in the first place. Why do you love what you do, do you love what you do? Paul.
Yes, so, how did we get here is kind of interesting really, so we started off life as property investors and our model back then was all about high yielding assets, so it was buying some reasonably tatty stuff. Getting a nice high yield out of it, putting a bit of debt in place and getting a bit of arbitrage between the yield coming in and the interest costs we were paying out, fundamentally. That was all fine, worked a dream for us, except that of course with that kind of high yielding stock, the challenge you have is that if you don’t knock it down, it falls down when it hits the end of its useful life, and so we migrated from property investors to kind of, forced property developers, as some of these assets that we had, that were kind of sweating this yield out of, started to fall apart a little bit.
And what kind of things did you have?
We had all sorts from little local shopping centres right through to kind of big old industrial estates, we had a 1930s industrial estate on the Warwick road in Birmingham, that was very much falling down, the roof was leaking and this sort of stuff, the old northern lights and this sort of thing. So, it was really having to reposition those. In effect, they would have fallen down if we hadn’t knocked them down. So we moved in to development, and after we did that, we had a number of key assets that we had interest from different occupiers. One of those was a little retail parade that we had, that had interest from Sainsburys. With a very small unit that we couldn’t fit them in. So we wrote to the neighbouring owners and we found a pub company, which was punched taverns at the time, that we could fit this requirement onto, cause we couldn’t fit it onto our own side and they couldn’t do it on their own. So we embarked on this journey as development consultants and we supported those big pub companies and some big plc’s and in trying to reposition their assets, doing the same stuff we were doing for ourselves. And what was interesting is that as we continued on that journey, we got pushed all-round the UK. It was a nationwide portfolio. Here’s 5000 pubs go tell us what the opportunity is in that. We found that stuff through data and technology and trying to sweat down what local knowledge is and kind of gut feel, what is that. And how can we approximate it, and how can we use that across the industry. And what we managed to do was to create a way of doing this using data and technology. Which allowed us to compete on a scale that perhaps we shouldn’t of been able to, given the size of our organisation, given the relationship those companies had with much bigger organisations, with local knowledge, track records, local offices, all that kind of stuff. And that moves us into building software, cause we started off our journey getting retained by some of the big retailers and we moved into trying to align what we were doing, with what they were doing. To allow that to unlock. So off the back of that, they liked what we did, the companies we were acting for, in terms of trying to sweat their assets. They liked it as well. Can we use the technology you’ve got?.
A lot of people get into property development because of the creative side of it, so obviously property is security of income. They know that there is a very good chance that the assets are going to go up in value over the long term because there is more demand then there is supply. But I think changing the building, the creative side of changing a building or shaping it. Even if it’s just an internal redevelopment, something is really quite rewarding isn’t it, when you take your idea and then you put it into the physical world, you put it into the buildings environment and you go well, we did this. And Paul and I often talk about that wet plaster smell when you go around a repurposed building, and they have knocked the walls down, and it’s a completely different space and think that’s always in your mind.
Either that smell of stale cigarette and wet plaster that either excites you. You know your naturally born property. If you’re not, then you’re really not.
But whenever you go on the sites it was just kind of fun wasn’t it, to go and see what’s happened, what’s progressed, even in a week or a few days’ time, so this wall was here now it’s an open space.
Looking at the plans before and going, I wonder what it’s going to feel like once the wall comes down.
People want to use your buildings, they want to live in your buildings, its really quite positive to get that buzz around. This was your idea, this is the physical work. And I think to be fair, software development although it’s got its challenges, is very similar, cause your building stuff that people want to use. Your building opportunities for people to improve what they’re trying to do, achieve their goals. And I think although we love building buildings, I think building the software is actually equally rewarding because your actually helping people achieve their goals, which is really super positive, whether their developers, or their agents trying to get more leads for their clients. So it think lots of us have challenges out there, if we can help them and achieve what they’re trying to do, then it’s really very positive and rewarding, in that respect.
Totally. I think you have to play to your strengths: are we the best developers in the world, probably not; are we the best at brokering the best deal in the world, probably not. What we are quite good at is understanding how data sets can approximate these things and can really focus you in on an opportunity and really drive value out of sites. And understanding how all that fits together, and what how this data set links with that data set over there and what that actually really means, and how you can leverage that, and how you can then give your customers that cutting-edge advantage. And I suppose, if we know that’s the case, then we should focus our attention obviously.
We have often been asked why don’t you just keep it for yourself and not pass it to the outside world. But we took the view that actually we could create impact socially, economically by doing that. Rather than keeping it into a software solution that was just for ourselves. And we took that decision to help the wider industry.
Yeah and I think we are similarly minded, the software we’ve created is the same, we could use it for ourselves, but we actually want to share it with a wider audience because we do think it holds much more benefit when used by a wide audience. Okay, so on what you guys just said, the two things I took from that were really, vision and execution, both in the physical buildings and also in the software. Is that fair enough, monica for you both.
Innovators, visionaries, yeah quite, tinkerers and things like that. Ask the deputy, we come up with a new idea today. How about we do this? And typically, from pillar to post.
But it’s not a bad thing to have on the gravestone?
Yeah. You’re really a visionary if you’re right, aren’t you? So you’ve got to, think it up, you’ve then got to make it happen. And then you’re only a visionary once you’ve made it happen, aren’t you really.
It’s all in the execution?
Yeah, we have 101 ideas that we think are brilliant. Some of them are, some of them aren’t. Lots of them aren’t. You’re only a visionary where it’s right. So we keep working hard, don’t we.
9:39 Simon: It’s a good job we’re brothers, we can hold each other to account, a bit more, as the others we can’t.
9:43 Paul: Perhaps his ideas rather than mine.
9:47 Ian: Probably safer being a bit more honest with each other, than regular business partner as well.
9:51 Simon: There are two calibres, Pauls ideas and Simons ideas and all the rubbish ones.
9:58 Ian: Okay, so thanks, guys. For someone that hasn’t seen Nimbus before, in a minute, how would you explain it?
10:08 Paul: So what it does is it encapsulates all the stuff that we’ve learnt in development consultancy, piece it together, in effect this is a more efficient way that allows you to compete on a big stage that you wouldn’t be able to compete otherwise. And in effect, that’s the efficiency, it’s the scale and the volume you can get from that kind of approach with technology. We do that by bringing a load of information together, that is all, put to your fingertips, where you can search and filter it. And find stuff that really is exactly what you want. And then what it does is allows you to assess, whether the site works, you assess whether they work, give you a load of ways of accessing the industry black book, so you can connect with owners really quickly, and then you can check as you’re trying to put stuff forward. You can benchmark that and make sure you’re transforming that asset into the most valuable use that it could be, so you’re getting every last penny out of it. In essence, that’s really kind of it in a nutshell.
11:03 Ian: Right? So analysis, appraisal, connecting people as well.
11:13 Paul: Absolutely. Yeah. It’s that whole lifecycle, really finding stuff, checking that it works, what you want to do with it, connecting with the owners, and then maximising the outcome.
11:21 Ian: Perfect. And in terms of, user numbers, how many people do you have on the platform?
11:30 Paul: We have just broken 50 thousand Simon? Something like that wasn’t it.
11:30 Simon: Yeah, it’s remarkable actually, across all of our products, that we’ve had 50,000 people use it at different varying degrees, but it depends whether they’re really in their, cycle investment development. So, there’s some fairly well known, developers’, investors, that have been in it a long, long time.
11:52 Ian: So yeah, that’s amazing and a compliment to you guys that people like that, want to use it. And then you’ve got a free version, and then you also scale up right. So, more functionality.
12:03 Paul: Yes. Yeah, totally. I think there’s lots of free data out there, lots of free stuff that the government’s releasing. And actually, we wanted to support that as well, because the free stuff that governments releasing is quite hard to deal with. We’ve created something where you can, use some of those data sets and get some understanding of this stuff, for free. It’s there, and hence the pencil, we did that.
12:28 Ian: Great. We understand a bit about how it works and what it does, but you talked before about how you got started, it was actually really an extension of what you were doing already. But to go from what you were doing, to software development. I mean, that’s quite a quite a change in-tact, what prompted it? Whose idea was it?
12:54 Well it was my idea of course. It kind of grew organically. As I said, but what I think really opened our eyes was we did all this work for the pub industry. And they were basically selling a lot of their sites to developers quite cheap. And then the developer five minutes later was flipping it and there we go, hang on a minute. Now we’re losing money here, we became more of a gatekeeper than a, traditional poacher. But it was just part of that work, that our eyes got opened up to a lot of the big corporate. So a lot of the big retailers had whole planning teams not planning for, built environment, but location planning teams, and some of them had like 60 70 people. And they were doing an enormous amount of work on predicting what takings might be in a certain location. And they were using this sort of data. But what we found, was a real surprise. That they were putting so much effort into data analytics. Down to what they thought that sight was going to take per week, and the variance analysis around that. But it opened up our eyes to what you could do. But the challenge was that they were still very, in terms of the property side of it, they find out what the locations, they should be, probably just a postcode or a region. And then shove it across to the property teams, go find me sites that meet these criteria, and they go back and appraise it. And there’s nothing linking that granular property level, to the site analysis or the location analysis that the guys were doing. So, I will try and link the two together. And in effect, we did that with a landowner’s site. And we had one of our original YouTube videos talking about a dating website for property, because it’s the same kind of principles. You’ve got these people, want the site and these people own the site kind of thing. We’ve tried to link the datasets together, but there was nothing out there. So they were firing off to their acquisitions team of 15 strong, they were doing the traditional, very manual process of driving the streets. Seeing what’s available, because the location planning team was fairly burgeoning, about 60 people tell me where they should be, but they couldn’t find the size. So we will build this. But we’ll attempt to build this thing that links that the physical environment with the data environment. And that’s how we got into, that journey with it. And as an example, we had one bomb climb on the acquisition trail, was looking to do some work on 8000 sites, they were interested in mine. And I think the original plan, they were considering, basically getting a team of students, he wasn’t going to use his son, an 18 year old, to go to measure 8000 sites, for the whole summer holiday. We think we can do this with data and technology, and it took about probably less than a week, or wasn’t it, to be able to do this appraisal form. So of those 8000 sites, this many work for you, compared to probably three or four months of a team, of students out of a-levels. I think that really showed people the true power of what you could do through data and technology.
16:01 Ian: And did you, surprise yourself on these early days?
16:06 Paul: I mean, it’s cool, isn’t it? like if someone sends you a list of 6000 pub names, and you have to tell them how big they are you know. Where do you start, text?
16:15 Simon: Yeah, I think it was just the pub name. And there’s 8000 sites, and sort of how do we that find out.
16:22 Paul: Yeah, with your hands. So it’s really interesting problems that were being thrown at us. And we love that kind of, getting thrown a question that is just really difficult. The short answer is no we can’t, it’s, that’s not acceptable. We’ve got to fix that. So you think of cool ways of doing it. And before you know it, there’s your answer.
16:40 Simon: Well part of that journey was also to throw those problems at the university wasn’t it. We thought we’d sponsor some PhDs and we could see the value of it. So we basically moved into their Science Park, so we could get links to the university and, because they’re all about the RND and then trying to find real world, solutions using the latest science techniques and real world problems, if we could be the bridge between that, I think we were quite fascinated about what they could do. And they were quite fascinated about how this could impact the real world. So we sponsored some PhDs, we still sponsor a PhD, and for things like that we work a lot with the university that, have MFC projects and stuff constantly running in the background to try and improve the data and the quality of what we’re offering and the outside world.
17:27 Ian: And how does it work with the two of you, who is responsible for what day to day, who’s the data geek, if either of you are data geeks.
17:37 Paul: I’m the geek. Yeah, yeah, data and what the data sets mean and how they interrelate, interlink and what that means and how we can leverage that to help and all that sort of stuff. That’s, I think it’s fair to say, is me, isn’t it Really?
17:49 Simon: Yeah. But then somebody’s got to translate that through to the business to the outside world. I’ve got a bit of business today. I could talk to people about it and keep people up to speed. Yeah, it’s fascinating. It really is. I think that wills change, more so like the lockdown, is now how people have adapted. I think that the human race is very adaptable, isn’t it? So things when needs must. I think that’s what’s happening now with technology.
18:15 Ian: Yeah, actually, how have you guys found the June lockdown? What impact has that had on your business and your users here? Give us some ideas of what’s changed?
18:28 Paul: It’s been really interesting for us actually. I think as lockdown hit, everyone had a worrying moment of awkwardness, what’s, coming. And what’s happened really well for us is that it’s meant that people have more time, they’re at their desk, they’re prepared to listen, we’ve done some really interesting webinar series where we’ve, brought lots of people together and we’ve had some really interesting insights at the back of that. The marketplace set the damage very quickly for us, and I think people saw being online as being really important. If we’re at home or in front of our computers, we’re online. This is a big productivity tool, in that time has been, obviously a positive thing for us.
19:10 Simon: It’s been like a retest gone on online, hasn’t it, massively over the lockdown period for Amazon and stuff like that. But, people are realising that searching and analysing property can actually be an online activity more than the traditional, which is going out and seeing the buildings and doing that sorts of stuff.
19:25 Ian: Have you seen the spike in numbers?
19:27 Simon: Massively. Yeah, I think last week, we had a 28% growth in revenue and new business. So today, we just had five new people start actually, we’re building the team rapidly because of the numbers of people coming on board and the rest of it. So what we don’t want to be is victims of our success that we can’t speak to and give people the demos and can’t speak to them because the user numbers have gone up, exponentially in a very short period of time, which is great, but we will make sure you can service those customers at the same level that you always want to service them, so yes. Social distancing reengagement with the office to try and onboard five people to build them up and understand the platform and what’s going on, to get them on the phone and helping people on the chat stuff and that sort of thing. So, yeah, we’ve been very lucky in terms of that growth over the last few weeks.
20:20 Ian: Probably not quite as many as Zoom in terms of huge numbers, but pretty good.
20:28 Paul: Yeah, similar sort of thing, isn’t it? It’s an online kind of business when you’ve got people in lock downs, very positive things and it really, it’s kind of fun. Challenge is how you help isn’t it and widen that support scale and things like that?
20:41 Simon: I think that the users, are finding that people will engage with them as well. So, I think a lot of our, SME developers have historically struggled to get people to engage with them. Well, people in lock down will take that phone call now, the agent acting for that person will take that phone call or a letter goes in, the post is still working that they’ve got the time to actually consider some of this stuff. So I think, from their point of view that activity is, growing because people are prepared to talk and listen, have a conversation about those opportunities that perhaps they were too busy to before, but they’ve got the time now. So as long as they’re not home schooling the rest of it, which is always a challenge.
21:21 Paul: But generally, because of the length of lockdown. I think certainly I was speaking to one of our bigger clients last week, and what they were saying is, as they went into lockdown, there was a huge amount of communications, they’re an international company, they’ve got loads of offices all over the world. And so you’ve got, your little team that’s communicating with you, you’ve got the offices communicate in the office. It’s part of the of the UK, that’s communicating. The International one’s kind of communicating as well. So, you have all this communication coming at you at the same time. And actually, you ask in the first week does working from home in lockdown work, they’re all going to say. No, it doesn’t. It’s just too much. But of course, because it’s three months in now, all of us have Settled down, they’ve got the right kind of sequence of the meetings and the webinars and this sort of stuff internally. Now it’s all settled down the world has moved because it’s long enough. And they couldn’t just say, Oh, actually, we’re going to set this off and do something different is. So, I think it’s actually very interesting now, how does, the marketplace come out of lockdown and what does it take with it? And what stuff does it like, when it’s sort of been through that? Because it’s starting to settle in a little bit now, isn’t it?
22:30 Ian: Yeah, I’d echo that as well. We would try to speak to people pre lockdown and giving them demos was a challenge. Whereas now, people are all ears, they’re at home, they’re happy to listen, they’ve got more time. And I think exactly what you guys are saying is, is that? No, it’s been a massive learn for everyone. I think it would have been a brave bank or law firm that would have told any of their staff, we’ve got to work at home full time now. Whereas now I think because it’s been forced on people, which actually is a reality that people can imagine. And in some cases, people want. Some people I speak to are in a massive hurry to go back to work. But I think what’s really good is, as you guys touched on is that you’ve actually demonstrated proof of concept that you don’t need to go and perhaps to some of the older guard that you don’t need to go and see that property to get a really good feel for it. And in fact, in some cases, it might be better to run, the analysis remotely, so you don’t get, emotionally attached to it or anything like that, as its purely on the numbers. I think that that’s very valuable.
23:38 Simon: Well they say about lockdown, the biggest winner is the environment. And it’s to say, we’ve been trying to push this and so I don’t, go and drive the streets up and down and stuff like that. And one of our early users who won the retailer said he saved about 15,000 miles a year out to 45,000. Historically, by finding the site, shortlisting them, and then going to have a look at them rather than traditionally just driving up and down and see if there’s a to let board or a for sale board, how can you tell the size of a plot of land from the pavement if it’s boarded up? It’s impossible. So, I think changing those habits generally will stop having meetings with people that they need to drive to when they could do it through a, web show and stuff like that.
24:19 Ian: I think it’s similar for us as well, because what we’ve tended to find how people use the software is, let’s say they’ve got 10 sites. And in the past, they might have gone to see all 10 of them, but like you said, Simon, whereas now they’re running 10 through the software and realise actually, only two of them probably work from a financing point of view. So then they’re the two they go and see, rather than the other eight that just don’t work. So, I think your right there is helping the environment is a by-product, but it really will just save people time.
24:55 Paul: I think you also touched on that and the really big point in there, which is that if you spend too much time on a property you get emotionally attached to it. And then you don’t want to lose it. And even when the numbers start moving away, always a good site to buy is the one we’re it all converges. And you come to the point of exchange, and it’s all come together. And sometimes you find those sites just diverge apart, you suddenly find there’s this, bit of whatever in the ground, this bit of asbestos, that’s a nightmare. Or, this week, some knotweed at the back or something. And then two or three of those things all kind of come together. And that’s where you’re, whoa, hang on a minute. But if you’ve done a lot of work on that, you’re like, well.
25:33 Simon: I’ve invested four months of my life in this.
25:35 Paul: Perhaps just check the price a bit. And it’s like, you try and force it and that’s then when it goes wrong, and that’s where you, can’t help yourself, but do it. And that’s when you shouldn’t be doing it. That’s when you start losing money.
25:46 Ian: Whereas when nobody says developers, they make a profit on the purchase on the land. So yeah, that makes sense. Okay, guys, what would be good, to come back to coronavirus in a bit. But, in terms of long, term impacts of that, but just as some examples of people who use your technology, benefits they get, how they engage with it. And the value adds. We’ve talked about value added as a proposition, but it had some specific examples.
26:21 Paul: Yeah. So where it all started, was aligning what we were doing with what those big companies were doing those the retailers and all those kind of things and, looking at how do you find bits of land for infill residential and all this kind of stuff, you know, that was kind of typically the user case. So we have a whole host of companies doing exactly that. So we have, from those big retail, they have an awful lot of retailers that use the platform after an acre plus of space or whatever it is, or point 2 of an acre to an acre or whatever, picking out those sites and using all of those and we have a whole team of people in, with different companies doing all of this, through to a whole bunch of companies that perhaps have big estates. So, like that pub example, I’ve got a big estate of assets and I kind of need to understand what all of those assets are. There’s too many of them for me to understand myself. So I have to go and research, sometimes having somewhere Central, I can understand that. So, track the planning applications that are going on and affect what I’m doing. We have all the people doing that to the SME developers, residential or commercial, understanding whether they’re getting the right deal where they’re getting, the right rent out of occupiers, when they’re getting the right terms there, lots of lots of that, that time we spent advising pub companies and call the other companies working for was around knowing the terms that that particular retailer would take just a single, you know, a lease to a retailer could be 7%, or it could be 6%, depending on the terms that you agree. Yeah, actually, there’s a 20 30% difference in the value of those two buildings, same building, could be the same rent fundamentaly. But I suppose terms of around what they try to negotiate out of it in their best interest, letting those owners understand all of that and getting the right terms in their leases can make a huge difference to those exit values fundamentally and so it’s doing all of that sort of stuff right way down then to, finding a backyard side garden infill plot, buy a house with a gap, the other side garden and put a house in there, refurbish the house, sell it off, and put another one in the side and then sell that one, please build up all that kind of stuff. So, we have kind of a whole spectrum of users doing all those different things and on the platform in reality.
28:39 Simon: I think it’s fair to say most SME developers, certainly those that have been doing it a while, know, what they’re looking for, and what their business model is, whether it’s, infill plots, or is repurposing now retail units to use in the upper floors which are undervalued and stuff like that and converted into HMOs or residential and stuff. But I think the challenge for the moment or historically has been is finding, enough of new sites and a consistent pipeline. It’s the same old challenges not one I’m completing on currently working but I need to build a pipeline for my next project because I’m only as good as my next my last project. So it’s always a challenge for them to build that consistent pipeline, but they do know, so often that means that they probably know their local area very well. They’ve probably got relationships or know local agents incredibly well and stuff like that. They’ve got a proven model of, retail or infill plots. So the maps have to move outside their patch a little bit and of course, as soon as you start moving outside your patch, your confidence goes down in terms of the residential values, am I buying in the right location compared to, because we all know residential values can vary by streets, especially some areas in London. One side of the streets gets five times the rent, than the value of the other side of the street. So am I getting in the right location, who’s doing what, what’s the paid price, who is paying for stuff, what’s the price for land and also, even the local planning authorities can have different attitudes towards you know, different article for directives and they have different interpretations of, legislation. So they’ve got a proven model, they may have to move outside their patch. But building those relationships with that local authority over those agents outside the patch can be incredibly time consuming, if almost impossible sometimes. So, ultimately, what we’re trying to do is give them, a transparent, open data set, so that they can say, well, they can move around different locations with confidence to be able to turn on a go, yes, I can go and do that up the road, or, you know, into that different county because I know I can see the planning, see what they’re going to say, I know they’re going to say about my ideas, I know what the residential values are. So, it just allows them to have a broader spectrum of which they can go and build that pipeline so they can maintain it. Most people will travel at least, an hour, an hour and a half to go and build a project out because they’ve got their teams, so if we can give them that diversity of information, they can go be out there, they don’t have to rely on just waiting for stuff to appear in a local area they’re familiar with. And I think that’s, the challenge a lot of our SME developers have got is they want just a nice continuous pipeline of projects, not trying to buy it super cheap. They’re not trying to get a super deal on a consistent point on a project so they can do they turn their money over, and they do the next one, they need to turn away for tax reasons and the rest of it. So that’s what a major part of what Nimbus is about.
31:27 Ian: So you’re giving them that ability to cookie cutter, you’ve got a model, it works in this area, go to a similar town or similar city, look for similar projects, that’s gonna work.
31:43 Paul: On an active market that’s part of the trick, is different ways in which you connect with those owners. Build that credibility with them really quickly, depending on who, you’re going to approach these different ways, in which you could build that credibility, talk about the stuff they’ve been up to, to demonstrate your knowledge, demonstrate your ability. It’s kind of making sure that you can piece all that together. But of course, that can be a life’s work. If you try and do that in a patch, an hour’s drive from where you are, then when you get to that kind of half an hour away, you know very little about those areas, you have spent all this time trying to put it all together, but actually, a lot of the history in the track, just knowing where to go and pull it out from and, and how to pack that up and how to present that to people and, that’s kind of what Nimbus started as. It’s kind of understanding which of these key bits of information you’ve linked together to then give you it’s been really interesting for the person you’re speaking to. So how can you capture that engagement? How can you capture that person to want to talk to you or kind of answer your phone call when you ring up the office line and say, well, I want to speak to x, if you even know who x is, how do you get them to engage with you? Well, it’s all there, the information is all there. To pull out, you’ve just got to know where to look and then present that to them. Then you get straight through, and you’re in.
33:04 Simon: Simple as that.
33:04 Ian: Yeah, yeah it’s that. Very easy.
33:08 Simon: That’s why its taken us 6 years.
33:13 Ian: Okay, so that’s good to know, the scope of the tech and that’s gratifications and the benefits that it brings to users. I mean, you touched on it Paul the lease information there, the ability to know what a retailer or tenant is going to ask for, or what covenants they will bend on and what they won’t, I think is hugely valuable. I was actually speaking to one of our users the other day, who is doing commercial uppers. And he and I was talking about the importance of a pre lap in terms of finance, and it’ll make it a lot more attractive. And, that put him in touch with one of the guys in the team to do a demo because I just said that, especially in the current climate with you Imagine if you are in that retail space, the blue chip tenants really are, able to ride roughshod over, landlords, sorry. I can imagine having that little inside information on what they might be willing to bend on, is hugely valuable this time.
34:23 Simon: They can have a material impact on the values obviously, in terms of the leases and stuff like that.
34:29 Paul: We’ve built a whole load of convenience, we’ve got 100 convenience stores, something like that. And the key things around those kind of small format, the Sainsburys locals the Tesco express, that small little convenient shops you go to, to top up with and there are a few tricks within those that obviously of course, building hundred and you kind of learn, for example do you get a parent company guaranteed, do you get caught with CPI rather than RPI uplifts, you get upward and downward reviews rather than upward only with a link to RPI, and all of that just flows straight through to your bottom line. If you know that occupiers will accept those things, then you make sure you get the height, you get the lowest yield the highest price for the for the building, and if you know they’ll accept it, especially in today’s market where if you push too hard they’ll go to the building next door because that’s on the market as well, if you ask for the right stuff knowing full well that they can say. Yes, yes, it’s fine. It’s fine. It’s fine. And you don’t ask for stuff you never get away with. Then. Happy Days.
35:28 Ian: Yeah, it’s knowing which buttons to press.
35:29 Paul: Absolutely.
35:30 Ian: Okay, cool. So talking about Coronavirus, how’s it affected the markets that your users are in? We touched on it just then, but in more expansive terms.
35:47 Paul: Yeah, totally. So I think what’s, we’re seeing is that there’s obviously pressure on, companies that haven’t been open for a while or perhaps working in a percentage of their maximum capacity. And what we’re finding then it’s those kind of commercial buildings to convert either, some other uses higher value or getting very hot. So I think like office, there’s office PD, rights. It’s the office with developments that people are keen on. This, and it’s interesting questions generally around that, the retail sector, the pub sector, obviously, those pub companies haven’t sold a pint, haven’t sold a glass of beer for three months. And it wasn’t looking particularly promising for them for a while too. So actually, kind of where does that leave them? And actually, some of those opportunities, perhaps to unlock some extra value out of those sites, perhaps they can use to sort of fill some of the gaps on the rent they haven’t had or the barrels they haven’t sold. I think becomes kind of quite interesting, really.
36:49 Simon: I think there’s no short term, there’s a short term thing, a long term thing is, we talked earlier about if our new processes are hard coded into us about working from home being less, maybe getting to the office for just creative time and a few meetings and the rest of your working week is, as opposed to working from home two days a week, you may work the office to, you know, to sort of flip over. But what does that mean to the local economies, in terms of people perhaps wanting to get out for walks, get out the house, because they’re not actually going to an office, less travelling. But what about those offices? And so I think there’s a longer term which we obviously don’t know where that’s going to go. There’s a lot of speculation. I think short term. At the moment, the banks, for example, I think, are holding back they’ve given lots of people, repayment holidays, tenants are getting a lot of, support on the government and things like that. So, at the moment, nobody’s under any tearing great pressure, are they to be forced to sell stuff? There’s nobody pushing them or anything like that? So I think, that will perhaps start to change in the.
37:51 Ian: There is a lag, there is definitely a big lag this time around.
37:54 Simon: Yeah, because there’s lots of protections for the tenants as protections for the landlords so a bit of a Mexican standoff. You have these construction sites that have basically been mothballed for three months. So, is it force majeure? I mean, what the contract said is going to pay for these liquidation assess damages that the developer is going to pay for them? Or is it going to be a gentleman’s agreement is going to be in the middle, where they’re going to get the money from the bank and lend them more money than the original project? Or is the contractor. The contractors live off cash flow, so who’s actually ultimately going to pay for these things when they get it back on site? So I think there’s a lot, of this idea of turning the key and the economy’s gonna start going again, but there’s going to be some activity or some changes. So, I think, activity, the property industry, the thing is, it’s an incredibly entrepreneurial industry, and they will find solutions for what’s in front of them. And I think if that’s them, changing buildings from where there’s a demand, as opposed to where it’s currently demanded, they’ll do that and it just it creates activity. I think change creates activity. So I think we’re seeing a lot more of these entrepreneurial people trying to build a pipeline. Oh, have projects to start in conversations with people because if the world does change, which its likely to, during the in the box seat ready to, have a go and start working with people. I think that’s what we’re seeing, an entrepreneurial database.
39:14 Paul: It’s kind of interesting because as that, one of the values was happening with the banks, we’ve just developed something literally has gone live over the weekend, which is looking at companies that are in selling mode. So as that kind of pressure comes on, you can well imagine the position where companies start saying, well you know, what if I sell a couple of buildings over here, two or three or something, then actually that can be reached my balance sheet, remember to send lease back or something. So I kind of retain the asset, but I get some capital, which then fills this hole that the COVID-19 has put into my balance sheet. We’ve just launched a little bit of functionality in our filters where you can now search, just for the properties owned by those companies that have just started selling things, and so you can start to get that understanding of, well actually, if these companies have been selling, then maybe there’s a few more they might want to sell as well. And you can start to piece those things together just as that sort of marketplace is changing Really?
40:12 Ian: Yeah, yeah. I think the Government, just as an aside. I think they have been really good, in terms of setting the tone between lenders and the relationship between tenants and landlords. I think that’s been really important, I think there is definitely a lot of pain in the pipeline, there is probably going to be a long time until it all comes out. On our side in development finance, we have found that most lenders have automatically granted a 3-month term extension. As you touch on Simon, there is not always the capacity in the original plan to allow for that extension, so then, you know there is that cost of who meets that, as you say. I think as long as the GDV stays somewhere as close to normal, or current than they are okay. But where some schemes may come unstuck is if there is a big element of commercial, unless there was pre lets or pre sales in place then you might find that that space is quite difficult, especially retail, if you have an element of retail in your makeup but, Longer term what do you see, what’s the data telling you on the platform, how has search data changed, where do you think it’s going to go.
41:39 Paul: Yeah, we’ve seen big spikes in our numbers so that sort of where we are hearing the interest coming from. So those kinds of conversions. Like your saying really kind of like commercial space, where do we find that. Using the data sets within Nimbus to work out, do those kinds of conversions work. There is some really interesting things which we are also seeing used, which is looking at what others are doing with their buildings, and interrogating those planning files. So actually, this here is converting to student or to HMO or residential or whatever that might be.
42:17 Ian: And you flagged that?
42:18 Paul: Yeah, absolutely, yeah.
42:19 Simon: I would say looking in the planning files isn’t Paul. In terms of you know people who perhaps have a planning application but know haven’t got the fire power to go and build it out. So maybe they can post it with the money or perhaps cash rich or cash richer, or somebody with that track record can go and deliver those ready projects quicker than perhaps other people can.
42:40 Paul: And that’s kind of the point of local knowledge, that I talked about earlier, having that access to understand which developers are doing what, what are they doing with those buildings. If I’ve got one of those buildings, what are they doing with theirs. Actually, it may work for mine too. Who are they, what are they paying? How. What are the uses they are converting to and who are the end occupiers for those things. So, can I then piece that together on my building and understand that’s worth more than I’ve got proposed. So, all of that stuff is again is one click within the platform, to and find all of that. That allows you to kind of see, how that kind of works. And then obviously, same with that kind of looking at the term like kind of stuff, it is all sort of a single kind of click away, really. So, I think that’s all the melting pot, as you can look at your estate and say, well, actually, how do I reposition this? Which bits are struggling, which bits are going well? And I think I’ve had some interesting feedback from some clients where they’re sort of saying, well, a lot of the big retailers are saying, well, I’ll tell you what, you can have three months’ rent holiday, please have six months’ rent holiday. And I think a lot of the knee jerk reaction is no, you can’t, but actually, some of the companies that are also saying I tell you what, well, if you’re trading well, if you’ve got a viable business that’s going to be here after this lockdown comes back then I’ll tell you what, why don’t I give you that, period as rent free, but let’s talk about an extension of the lease, let’s talk about re-gearing that lease. Let’s talk about dropping that five-year break. So actually, I can see my capital values pushing up because of that, and I’ll give you what you want. If you give me what I want. And we’re actually seeing quite a lot of, it’s a very different question than for those occupiers to you know, if the occupiers trading well and they’ve got a stable business they know it’s going to trade really well once were back after lockdown which isn’t very far from perhaps when you started trading already now, then committed to a slightly longer lease which then gives the landlord a bit more, comfort. They avoid the void they’re gonna have if you decided you want to leave into that new lease and so it’s a very different conversation. Rather than saying I just have some free rent thanks very much or you know, some free occupation which I’m not using what he’s in the building into I’ll tell you what, let’s broker something that works for both parties. And then you get what you want, see then you haven’t got that that expensive rent over that six-month period. He’s taking a longer lease the building want to trade from anyway and get’s working for you.
44:48 Ian: And it might be time with your other point. Were you saying that, if they’re looking to get rid of some assets, and you got two that you know, are comparable and it’s marginal, which when you let go that. That’s sort of act of kindness as it were, might be the difference between them keeping your asset and going elsewhere.
45:09 Paul: Yeah. And in reality, you know, that act of kindness, act of kindness is, if you’ve got a 6% yield in the building, it’s 3% worth of value. If I get that lease correct. I put 1% yield, I add nearly 20% of the building. So, I’m giving 3 making 20. It’s like, well, it’s very kind that Ian, yeah.
45:26 Simon: You know, I think, it comes back to relationships between the landlord and tenant are changing as well. I think that’s a bigger discussion. It’s so buildings as a service, rather than just as a, 15-year lease, and it’s quite a draconian sort of legislation, isn’t it? So your, tenants have already been very subservient to the landlord. But now, I think the balance is coming certainly right back and the leases are getting shorter, more flexibility.
45:50 Ian: Well it’s more choice isn’t there as well. You know, you see, it’s easier to move, especially as we talked about, the technology, is easier to pick up a business that’s been in the same building 10 years then its ever been. And so yes, you have got to, I think you’re right, that balance of power is definitely shifting.
46:10 Paul: We did a webinar last week about HMOs. And the person who hosted the webinar was talking about their approach which measures putting the tenant first switch, designing the building around what the tenant wants and designing everything with that customer first. And of course, in the property industry, we don’t think of that we think of I’m going to put a 10-year FRI lease in place to the best covenant I can for as long as I can have highest rents possibly can.
46:33 Simon: Better to be a shell, they got to reinstate that shell at the end of it, and I’m going to hit them with you know, massive dilapidations.
46:40 Paul: Whereas if you didn’t, say where every other company across the UK puts any successful company, puts the customer first, and so works out what does that customer truly, truly want, and then build a whole business around that customer. In the property industry we don’t do that. But it’s just on top of this absolutely right. As an industry, we should be doing that. It’s just there’s a way to go yet but it’s I think it’s really interesting times as that change happens.
47:02 Ian: Yeah, I think you’re right. It’s kind of any industry you look at globally, that there has been that customer centric approach for quite a while. Amazon and anything like that is built purely around the customer centre. Properties never done that, but it’s starting to, its almost like the leisure sector did it. And then sort of the others are having to take notice now.
47:35 Paul: When we started, there was a number of big companies out there, they said that they’re approached when they buy a new site, there approach is, try to get the tenant not to pay the rent, and as soon as the tenants not paid the rent, send the bailiff in and tell them who’s boss. And that is not putting the customer first. You can see why it’s the case. You know, if I make sure you pay rent on time, you got a 10-year lease, we actually pay rent on time. So put the bailiff in make sure they realise they can’t afford to be late. Send minimum interest calculation based on how late the rent is, but that’s not putting the customer first, it’s smashed.
48:09 Simon: Knowing this choice. Choice and mobility is creating this rebalance of power isn’t it.
48:16 Ian: I guess the rent on rent models that you’re seeing we work etc and you’re starting to see that is achievable, right? Because they have gone to that extra level of service and flexibility that people will pay for. So yeah, just more intense management of your assets actually leads to leads to a better outcome for everyone, I guess. Okay, so what next for you guys? What, what’s the next few years hold for you for Nimbus? How do you see your product evolving? Where next?
48:51 Paul: Yeah so we, we kind of, we display about a 10th of the datasets that we’ve got, so in Nimbus when you log into it, about a 10th of its being displayed and the other nine tenths we’re working very hard with playing with it and getting our head around and using it for sort of some of the site finding services, we do have to kind of bespoke what we do in the background that supports people. So I think you’ll see, as we do more and more of that, I think you’ll see more and more of those kind of things that we enter things that we learn, moving back into the platform and into getting stronger and stronger, fundamentally around that key in finding sites assessing what they work, connecting with owners, and then maximising the, the value from them. And we’ve also got sort of four or five other products that we think are really helpful for our customers and the industry more widely, I think you’ll see us bringing out some it’s a question of when rather than if, and so I think over the next, , few years, you’ll see that happening in the UK. And then we have got a few discussions talking about overseas and, and taking the same technology and, you can scroll out and on Google Maps and scroll in and overseas. Well Nimbus could also follow that. So we’ve got, a few discussions going on with that at the moment, too. So we’ve got a busy few years ahead of us, it seems so.
50:08 Ian: Great. And then what about the wider prop tech industry? Where do you see that going? You know, what, what are the developments? What are the things that you’re seeing at the moment which excite you, where do you think there’s still gaps to innovate?
50:25 Simon: Well, I think data is getting more useful, more trustworthy and more accessible, more of an SME developers, I think, historically. It was, I guess what we said at the outset with more of the preserve of the big corporates but with, the likes of what we’re doing, others are making that more democratising that data, for want of a better phrase, so that means more and more people can access it, more and more people can, can do it. I think gov.uk the government bodies are they recognise this, they understand this. Not only are they releasing more data to the likes of us and the wider the wider world, but they’re also Actually now starting to work on how to be linked the data sets and stuff like that. So we’ve been spending a huge amount time linking it, making it as useful as it possibly can, whether it’s our bespoke work or in the platform and that linkages is you know, born bit data from this data set linked to that one actually then suddenly uncovers enormous opportunity. And so, I think the government to their credit are doing that. And seeing that greater accessibility of data is going to create more activity which means people can build more houses or people can invest in improve redundant buildings, basically put money into local economies or national economies and create economic stimulation, wealth and, the sharing that stuff around. I think going forward it’s inevitable as data becomes more standardised that the likes of you know, a more transparent that a ledger kind of system around sort of blockchai, wanted to standardise will find its way into the to the property industry. It’s an ideal, industry for blockchain to work around about, assessing stuff, acquiring stuff, financing it as well and things like that, trusted transparent audit trail but I feel like that for blockchains to become the backbone of, the property processes, there’s an awful long way to go and you’ve got to get the buy in of the government bodies like the land registry. Absolutely number one, the local planning authorities, the local authorities, there’s such a diversity of, information from the different 426 local authorities as well. So, I think it has to come from above, but there is a definite push for that. And I think that will then just create more trust and transparency then you probably see, maybe cellular acquisitions of, crowdfunding of properties, more transparency, if those blocks and those cells you can have more fluidity for small amounts of money can go into much bigger deals which creates that greater, greater accessibility for people. So I think so there is lots of benefits, but you know a lot of it’s a long journey that we’re all going to have to go on, nothing’s gonna happen overnight.
53:09 Ian: Yeah, I think like you said that the changes can be driven from the top, and historically this hasn’t happened that quickly from outside. You need some of the private sector to innovate and show that it works. But then like you say it needs to buy in, to have a much broader set of stakeholders.
53.32 Simon: I think the government have recognised that, with regards to the open source data, have realised that they’re sitting on a lot of economic stimulation, most I never need ever if they give people like ourselves, and they know that the developer and that was the entrepreneurial industry access to it, they will find ways in which they can find use of it, to create these things, because ultimately, that’s what we’re all about, building houses, or building new buildings, or changing buildings and putting money into them and it just creates positivity, doesn’t it across the board?
54:02 Paul: I think what we are seeing, certainly from my point of view and talking to a lot of customers, and to a lot of people in the industry. And I think if you think about where the world was five years ago, there were no property companies talking about data. For me, the dirty word is, it has been a dirty word, for the last five years. And data is information, information is knowledge, knowledge is power. So you almost have to take people on a journey, to understand what data is. But it’s been a dirty word. And as soon as you say it will glaze over and think, oh, it’s just I don’t understand, I don’t know. But I think we are now seeing, the SME come forward and say I now need to take control. Certainly, the bigger, the medium size, and the large companies are very clear. We have to have a data strategy; we need to take control of our data. And that’s flowing right through the industry. Certainly what I see and say is I need to understand my data ready to acquire data, because that sort of light bulbs gone on the data, information and knowledge, we understand the power of knowledge and more we want local knowledge and why that’s so important. But I think what people haven’t really made the connection to, is that that is data and therefore, it’s now no longer a dirty word. Now we need to start harnessing it. And I think that’s what I’ve certainly seen over the course the last few years how that that’s a mind shift has changed. And I think that’s kind of very exciting for, for where that where the industry can now go.
55:17 Ian: Can know realise its potential. I’d like to ask you both about what you think the biggest challenges that the industry and possibly society face with regards to property and land distribution becoming housing, the housing shortage, where do you think, finances obviously, one thing that’s a big thing, SMEs, always talk about, lack of appropriate funding, which obviously something where we’re trying to help with, but planning is a big problem still only where no one else can be done in the private sector to aid SMEs and to really benefit society as a whole in terms of addressing the housing shortage.
56:05 Paul: Yeah, so I think it’s kind of interesting if you look back 10 years ago, and the split of new houses that were built between SMEs and the big PLC’s was about 5050. And what you see now is that ratio is completely changed. And actually it’s about 10% SME development rather than the bigger corporates. And I think if you’re if you’re a PLC, you’ve got your land team that land team’s got a track record, it’s got then relationships, agents, sort of supplying these sites in and actually there’s agents of I think with that, it’s relatively easy to sustain those levels of housing that’s being delivered. But actually, the SME has got it, the SME market has got this huge untapped potential in it. It was comfortable and it no longer is. And so I think the SME markets is where you really can move that needle, and that’s, about the power of that community. How can we how can we support that community to really, find the right sites to know those sites when they found them than work and kind of our own experience of that has been that we’re not necessarily assessing sites early enough, you go to a site, you get a feel about it, you go look a fit couple of semi’s on there or something like that. And actually, then you find it floods and then you find the buildings listed. And actually, you can’t get those in for there’s some view or whatever it is that kind of, and then you chase the wrong bit, all that stuff that pushes the SME into the wrong place. And so I think, that challenge, then sort of ease with the likes of Nimbus, being able to search in areas where those problems aren’t there. So you’re giving yourself a fighting chance of finding something that is going to work, because you’ve set the ground, you’ve set the debate up properly for yourself, those things aren’t going to come back and sting you. So I think that’s where the biggest challenges is, re engaging and reigniting the SME marketplace, giving them confidence, showing them where they can get their stuff from, finding plenty of sites, the biggest challenge we found as an SME was with the supply of sites, it was, forever trying to look off your agent, you’re forever trying to encourage the agent to send you that off market site they found to you. And so actually, if you can generate that list, that sort of site that those sites through into your business, and you can really drive that scale in, then you can choose the stuff that works. And you haven’t got to chase the wrong one, if you’ve only got one to work on. That’s, that’s how you can really move the needle in the industry is to is to engage that SME marketplace, to give them the tools that the big developers of Aviva have got, or they’re working on fewer and fewer sites, and they do it manually so that there’s less to do if you like, and then off the back of that you’re setting up to succeed because they’re picking the right stuff in the right areas where they’re going to get support because fundamentally, we’ve got a housing shortage in the UK. So if you if you take sites forward that are in settlements in sustainable locations, for housing that’s built in line with the character of the surrounding area, you will get a planning ticket. It’s not rocket science.
59:14 Simon: If you have to knock the building down there, again it comes back to entrepreneurial nature, the SME marketplace, they can use existing buildings, they can repurpose buildings, they can take what was upstairs undervalued or underutilised, and converting something else industrial buildings into other space. So that entrepreneurial nature of the industry is brilliant in terms of once you give them the opportunity to work these things out. But first of fact, you have a pipeline of, of site, if you’ve got that dialogue going, somebody may not be ready to sell their property now, but they might sell it in two or three years time. We hear that all the time. Well, if you put a letter across their desk, and then in two or three years time or you have decided to, retire now I’d like to have a proper dialogue with you and work with you in terms of, the numbers and the rest of it. And if you can have that, I think if you have that transparent relationship with the vendor or with the date and you can back it up with information and this has been sold here, this is what I’m going to go and do. Everybody gets what they want out of it to a decent level of developer needs a profit, otherwise, it’s never going to work. So they’ve got to get the whole thing to stack up, you’ve got to open dialogue. Can you say, we’re gonna build a quality building and we’re going to do this stuff the other with it, but I think the vendors will back with that track record of trying to make things, happen and be a positive environmental change for the local areas and things.
1:00:31 Ian: Okay, I think, what we see, I think as funding gets better, planning gets better. And all of these software tools, now bringing it all together. I think you will find that SME sector will grow again and will become, a more powerful deliverer of housing and I think you’re right guys, having the instinct.
1:01:01 Paul: I think it’s also interesting, kind of as you say, because that’s one of the other key challenges around that sector. Part of it is price and getting the right number of sites and picking the right stuff. But then it’s also how far can my money go. And on Brickflow, which is showing you actually, for the same site, same scheme, two different lenders, I keep putting in a fraction of the amount of equity into one as opposed to the other, which means the money goes twice as far as I can then develop more, I can get more size for buying rights at the same time, then, of course, we’ve got all the component parts set up to make money out of these schemes, I’m making my money go as far as I possibly can. So I’ve got the right, debt in place and the right the right funding structure. And then of course, that then where that needle can be moved. It’s really exciting.
1:01:46 S: So I think that goes back to I think this conversation is all about we’ve got a responsibility between our software solutions to ensure that that we can in the background linked together so that that SME developer has a relatively clean sort of progress through this journey we bring together these component parts together. So find and assessing them and funding them. It’s so valuable, isn’t it? So we have to do the hard jobs in the background to, work together as we are to so make sure that SME marketplace has the toolkit, they need to do things efficiently without burning a load of money and time and abortive work, which is ultimately allows them to be more productive, doesn’t it, which is good.
1:02:23 P: If either falls down along that way, then the developer just fundamentally held back. If they both work harmoniously together, then they can skip forward. And that’s the trick isn’t it.
1:02:31 I: Yeah, I think if you deliver an end to end solution where you can find and fund through to the same tools, then you really, are getting somewhere in the space that nobody’s been before and will truly add value. So yeah, this is something we need to work on guys for sure. Okay, so we’ve come to the end. So Just wanted to touch on finally. What are your hopes and ambitions for Nimbus over say the next few years? What’s your legacy?
1:03:14 P: Legacy? Well, I suppose, we want to support our marketplace. That’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. It’s that smell of stale cigarette and plaster. We love that marketplace, we love the retouching of buildings, it’s always fascinating to watch a building come out of the ground and see how it’s going to end up in this stuff. And I think for us, we haven’t scratched the surface of what we can do yet. And where the data sets and information that we hold and the and the insights we’re driving out of those data sets is, becoming more and more exciting, it’s really, some of the things we can now do that we haven’t really dreamed of five years ago, we started on this journey and some of the stuff we can now do, and it’s in a platform you kind of click a button and bang, there it is, it’s blows your mind really, in some of those things that we, were so impressed with back in the time, we suddenly thought, well, we could do this. And that would give us this amazing result, picking the right architects or all this stuff that just changes what can be done. We really have, in starter steps, and every time you put something together and you do something else, you find something else that can then be really exciting. I think what you’ll find is that, really our hopes and our plans and reasons to continue supporting what we’re doing is to try and drive as much.
1:04:34 S: I think supporting that marketplace is now, I think we want more and more people to benefit from property ownership, property investment, property developments, we drive a lot of automation through our business to try and keep the cost down. So we can, give you the fair price, that marketplace so it has a sort of ubiquitous nature. So anybody can, it’s a meritocracy that they can use it and, loads of people want to get into this industry, loads of people love it, they want to experience that stuff, meet there. I think we have got to be there to support them. And I think what rewards us the most is if we can support them. It’s a lot of education, educating ourselves and what you can do with the data sets. And then it’s also educating ourselves and finding out this thing is to sharing, it’s about the world, about sharing these days, isn’t it? And we just want our legacies hopefully, that we shared and we learn somewhere we’re sharing and making more people prosperous, is the driver for us at the moment.
1:05:34 I: I think that’s key as well for us. He says, there’s plenty of people that are capable of operating in this space, but they just don’t have the tools like from either the education, the knowledge to know how to use the information that you guys get, and then on the funding side as well, a lot of builders, I’d say builders means that or trade part of the developers space. And for most of these guys, the thought of going to speak to a bank or having an in depth conversation with a lender is something they just never want to do. They just want to get on with building. And similarly, I imagine this, similar apathy to, , go in and do lots of research on sites, they just want to know that it works fundamentally, they want to just get on and build it and they want the funding. And I think if you can. Those people are capable of doing it by giving them the tools, then I think you really could unleash a serious momentum.
1:06:45 P: How many people buy one site that doesn’t really work and then realise the value of doing it. It’s a necessary thing that you want to do otherwise, because the downstream impact of buying the wrong site that’s got a constraint you didn’t know about whatever is.
1:06:57 S: It’s the wastage. I mean, what Amazon’s done for retail, if I want this thing I get on prime, I get it delivered in a in a van tomorrow I could go on a journey I could go into town, I could go run, the whole thing and come back empty handed. So which would you rather do, I’d rather click a button and have it delivered to my front door. I mean, that’s, the world that we’re living in, I think property will get closer and closer to that, and then they can do their bit with that asset is or whatever they want to do with that property when it comes to their front door. That’s the world.
1:07:29 I: I think that’s when you start getting into modular, designing your own spaces room by room and stuff, which is probably a whole other topic. We can do another day. Cool. Okay, guys. Well, thank you both very much for your time. Really, really interesting, to chat to you guys and just getting a good overview of what Nimbus does, obviously, but how that fits into the wider industry in prop tech in general. So thank you. Thank you very much for coming.
1:07:57 S: Thank you for having us.
Outro (Ian): Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Brick by Brick. The podcast for the property development industry.
It was really interesting to hear Paul and Simon’s views on the Proptech industry and the growing importance of data. Both they and I agree that the SME sector is key to solving the UK’s housing shortage. The PLC’s won’t do it on their own. The forecasted changes to the planning system by the government should further assist SME’s, so the time is right.
Large housebuilders have whole departments dedicated to finding the right sites and the right finance. If you’re an SME you probably can’t afford to employ someone full-time just to find the best sites or the best loan each time you’re looking at a site. By using Proptech & Fintech platforms like Nimbus and Brickflow, you can outsource those functions, allowing you to punch above your weight. Leverage the tech to your advantage, that’s what it is there for.
Anyway, we’ll be back again soon with another episode alongside other industry insiders, sharing their own property journeys as well as their tips and tricks to help you get ahead in the property development industry.
If you’ve enjoyed this show, we’d really appreciate it if you would leave us a review and share the podcast with your property industry peers. And remember to get in touch about this topic or any future topic by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, take care.