Industry veteran Bob Scarff has described almost all proptech companies as “solutions in search of problems that don’t exist”.
Scarff, who formerly headed up Countrywide’s estate agency division, said he had read a piece on EYE last month where Robert Sargent, of Acorn Group, criticised the plethora of proptech ideas.
Scarff said: “It reminded me of two years ago when I first found myself out of work.
“I literally lost count of the number of people who wanted to show me their proptech ‘idea’.
“In all but one case, it seemed to me that the one thing that these ideas had in common was that they were solutions to problems that didn’t really exist.
“The most common scenario was that the founder had experienced something as a consumer of estate agency services that they perceived as a problem, they knew a way in which this ‘problem’ could be solved, and quickly went about the business of becoming a proptech start-up without once stopping to check if the problem really existed, and if it did, whether or not estate agents would be prepared to pay for the solution.”
Scarff – not surprisingly – went on to say that the one exception was Callwell, the firm he went on to acquire and which turns “emails into phone calls like no one else”.
The original piece in EYE, in which Sargent described proptech firms as “emperors’ new clothes”, is here: