Proptech Panel: How Proptech Contributes to Sustainable Development

Guest Speakers:

Matthew Waugh – Conexie

Anna Wright – BindiMaps

Patrick Connolly – Anility

Transcript:

Kylie Davis: (00:12)
So welcome everybody, my name is Kylie Davis and I’m the Founder and President of the PropTech Association. And it’s great to see you all here today for our first PropTech Panel of 2021. Now before I begin, in the spirit of reconciliation PropTech Association Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, and community. We pay our respect to the elders past and present and emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples joining us here today. And I’d especially like to thank our founding sponsors, Stone & Chalk who continue to make these events possible. Sorry, I just knocked over a water bottle. I’d especially like to thank our founding sponsors Stone & Chalk, who continue to make these events possible in 2021.

Kylie Davis: (01:00)
And for those of you who don’t know, Stone & Chalk, it was founded as a not-for-profit in Sydney in 2015 to help Fintech Startups commercialise and grow. From 40 Startups in 2015, it now has around 200 Startups in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, covering all areas of emerging technology including PropTech. And currently around 20 PropTechs call Stone & Chalk home, although that number is growing. And I’d also like to thank the PropTech Association of Australian Foundation Partners, Ashurst Lawyers, Macquarie Bank, PEXA, The Real Estate Institute of WA, Forbury, and WebIT, list once. So I’m going to hand over to your host Jennifer Harrison, Vice President of the PropTech Association, for today’s panel. Take it away Jen.

Jennifer Harrison: (01:47)
Thank you so much Kylie. Hello everyone and welcome to the PropTech Panel. As Kylie just said, I’m Jennifer Harrison, and I’m Vice President of the PropTech Association Australia. In 2015, the United Nations World Leaders agreed to do 17 sustainable development goals to create a better world by 2030. These goals include stopping climate change, promoting the well-being of all people, and to making the built environment inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Property technology most definitely has a role to play here, and in November, 2020, PropTech Association Australia, along with 30 other national peak bodies, confirmed its support of sustainable development by joining the global PropTech For Good Alliance. It’s my absolute pleasure today to have as expert guests on the panel, three passionate PropTech leaders. Each guest has founded or co-founded a business that is active in the built environment and uses technology as a lever to innovate and contributes towards improved environmental, social, and governance outcomes.

Jennifer Harrison: (02:56)
This makes them very much aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and perfect guests on our panel for PropTech For Good. So let’s meet them. Our first guest is Matthew Waugh, Co-Founder and Head of Growth and Partnerships at Conexie. Good day Matt, thanks for joining us. How are you today?

Matthew Waugh: (03:16)
Hey, thank you for having me. I’m going really well, looking forward to the chat ahead.

Jennifer Harrison: (03:22)
Thanks Matt. Our second guest is Dr. Anna Wright who is Co-Founder and CEO of BindiMaps. Hello Anna, welcome to the panel. How are you?

Dr. Anna Wright: (03:31)
Hey great. Thanks Jen, thanks for having me.

Jennifer Harrison: (03:34)
Pleasure. And our third guest is Patrick Connolly, Founder and CEO of Anility. Hi Pat, thanks for joining us. How are you today?

Patrick Connolly: (03:43)
Hey Jen. Thanks for having me, good to be here.

Jennifer Harrison: (03:46)
Lovely. Matt, let’s come to you first. Your business is Conexie, which if people don’t know it, they might have a guess from the name it’s something to do with connections? Or in a nutshell, what is Conexie? Give us the elevator pitch.

Matthew Waugh: (04:02)
Yeah, so in a nutshell, exactly that. Conexie was a platform built for people with a common goal or a common interest but didn’t have a common platform to engage on. We specifically operate in the energy space. So what we do is we act as an ETL which is we take energy data, we surface it in real time, and we pair it with communication capabilities so that people can actually engage with and act on their energy behaviour and inevitably optimise and improve their carbon footprint.

Jennifer Harrison: (04:32)
Okay perfect. So could you tell us a little bit more detail now, please, what is the problem you’re solving for and how are you using technology to solve it?

Matthew Waugh: (04:42)
Yeah, so one of the, I guess, key barriers for anyone going into the renewable space is making sure that they understand what they’re doing and also maximising their return on investment. It’s quite a daunting capital outlay for both commercial and residential. So Conexie acts as a conduit to fill in all the missing pieces so that it’s a seamless and engaging experience for any of our customers. So they literally just have to sign the agreement with the PPA provider or the power purchasing agreement and Conexie does the rest. They have a free to download iOS or Android App, they can see their energy behaviour in real time, they can engage with it, they can communicate with the different stakeholders. We really just take all the pain away from going into that renewable space and make it a seamless experience.

Jennifer Harrison: (05:28)
Okay great. Was there any particular inspiration or motivation or heart moment to go into the renewable energy space?

Matthew Waugh: (05:37)
Yeah definitely. I think Conexie has always been built, as I said, with that idea of being a platform for people with a common interest and a common goal. And when we were approached by a PPA provider, we realised that energy is probably one of the most universal common interests that you could engage with anywhere, it’s something that every person, every business has to interact with in some form. And so for us, moving into that space and facilitating solutions in that space meant we were finally actually providing a solution that not only reduced the cost for businesses or for individuals by minimising their bill or minimising their unnecessary usage of energy, but also reduce the carbon footprint so we’re actually helping with the environment. And then also I guess, helping individuals move towards a more innovative and technology assisted lifestyle by making it something seamless and easy to integrate with their lives.

Jennifer Harrison: (06:35)
Great, so this is something for householders, landlords, people in retail and commercial spaces as well?

Matthew Waugh: (06:43)
Yeah, we have a mix of clients, some of them utilising our platform to almost gamify their energy consumption and production data. So by making it that all of their customer service attendants or sort of end users now have the power in their hands to see real time the energy consumption that they’re doing in their stores, what we can do is provide really powerful business intelligence that says across these stores, they ran super efficiently these stores didn’t run efficiently. We can trigger notifications with our communication capabilities which say, at 5:05 PM, why are you utilising this much energy when your normal business activity should say you’re using this. So it’s all about being proactive rather than reactive with your energy behaviour and really sort of driving that engagement level. So that’s on the commercial side, and then on a residential side, it’s all about I guess, helping with the educational side of renewables, but also with helping with creating transparency behind what you’re consuming, what your relationship with your grid consumption, is what your relationship with your panels on the roof, are they working to their optimal rate, how much you saving in dollar values? All of those things, putting them in an easy to understand and easy to digest environment means that people are more likely to engage with and to onboard these renewable projects.

Jennifer Harrison: (07:59)
Great. Can you give us some examples of specific feedback you’ve had from owners and also from traders who are installing and supplying the solar panels?

Matthew Waugh: (08:10)
Yeah, the most common piece of feedback we get is that we’re filling the missing pieces in and we’re helping to streamline those pain points for both the installers and also the project leads and also the end users. Previously, if you were to engage in a renewable project, there’s an array of stakeholders from the manufacturer of the hardware, from the installer, to being available on site, to get onto the roof, for the inductions, all of these different communication needs need to be funnelled into one easy to manage environment almost like a project management tool. And so yeah, the most recurring piece of the feedback we get is, it’s just become so much less of a pain to get these projects over the line, but also because they can see in real time the activity or the data being produced, they’re actually able to enhance the return on investment that they’re getting from these projects as well.

Jennifer Harrison: (09:02)
Right. And you’re marketing it as a turnkey solution. Could you explain to people who might not be familiar with that jargon, what does that mean for them in practical terms?

Matthew Waugh: (09:12)
Yeah, so we have we’ve formed really good relationships with some sort of hand-picked channel partners who provide PPAs or PPA brokers. And what it means is they can spend their time going out and trying to source clients, source household, source commercial sites to get these panels put on the roof or to transition into renewables and not have to worry about the actual project management that goes behind getting the panels up there and making sure it’s a seamless process. So for some of our partners we’ve been I guess, pivotal in them being able to scale their operations significantly because their sales teams aren’t having to manage the back and forth calls between installers and between the residents and between the business managers, they’re able to actually just go out there and source as many different sites as possible, so it’s a win-win for all parties.

Jennifer Harrison: (10:03)
Great, thank you. And recently you participated in the Global PropTech Demo Day along with a few other members of the PropTech Association Australia. Could you tell us a little bit about that event and what does something like that opportunity mean for a business like Conexie?

Matthew Waugh: (10:22)
Yeah, I mean firstly, we were super privileged to get the opportunity to speak on a stage like that and to get that kind of exposure I think the biggest thing it does for an organisation like us, who so much of what we’re trying to do is to validate ourselves and to build trust in the market, and if we’re able to present on a platform of that magnitude, it really helps to reinforce that established validity in what we’re doing. And also because what we’re doing is a truly global product, having the exposure to a global market like that, it’s an incredible opportunity for us.

Jennifer Harrison: (10:57)
Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for being on the panel today to talk about how Conexie is helping to promote sustainability by helping people to choose renewable energy.

Matthew Waugh: (11:09)
Not a problem, thanks for having me.

Jennifer Harrison: (11:10)
Okay. Anna, let’s talk about wayfinding, social inclusion and BindiMaps. Can you please tell us in a nutshell what is BindiMaps? What’s your elevator pitch?

Dr. Anna Wright: (11:24)
Oh thanks Jen. So BindiMaps is a smartphone app that can help anyone find their way around a complicated building, so inside of a hospital or a university or shopping centre. While anyone can use the app, because we discovered that everyone gets lost, we originally designed the app for people who are blind or vision impaired.

Jennifer Harrison: (11:49)
Yes, that’s an interesting aspect but you’ve always been for profit is that correct?

Dr. Anna Wright: (11:56)
Yeah, always been for profit and what was interesting is when we first got on board with guide dogs, they were actually quite specific that they wanted to see that we were for-profit. They’d had other difficulties apparently with not-for-profits and I suppose there’s a discipline in the financial markets around being a for-profit.

Jennifer Harrison: (12:18)
Yes and I guess there’s a certain amount of commerciality and ability to make decisions and execute that also comes with being for profit. So can you tell us a little bit more about the technology? You said there’s an app, what else is involved in terms of software and hardware?

Dr. Anna Wright: (12:36)
Well, from the user’s perspective, it’s just a free app, so on the App Store or on Google Play, but from the building owner’s perspective, what we do is we come out and we have to instal some hardware, it doesn’t take us very long, it’s double-sided sticky tape. And it basically helps bring the GPS indoors which we need to locate phones in space and then to do the routing algorithms. And then there’s a whole bunch of other stuff that goes on in the background that’s… Yeah, very busy product team.

Jennifer Harrison: (13:09)
Okay. So could you give us an example of a building or a place we might have been to that is BindiMapped that we might not have known was BindiMapped.

Dr. Anna Wright: (13:19)
Sure. Well Stone & Chalk is part of the Sydney Startup Hub, and we’re in at the Sydney Startup Hub. We’re also in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, we’re in a couple of private office buildings through Sydney out at Stockland Wetherill Park, we’ve got installations all around Australia now it’s pretty exciting.

Jennifer Harrison: (13:38)
And are there benefits to spaces from getting Sydney BindiMapped other than the social inclusion benefits of helping people who are visually impaired?

Dr. Anna Wright: (13:52)
Well yeah, absolutely. Talking to shopping centres, the two biggest complaints they get is around wayfinding and car parking. And with BindiMaps, will definitely help with wayfinding but we’re also just released a new thing which can help with car parking much to my… Yeah, it was one of my favourite features, I’m always losing my car. Things like airports also get a lot of complaints, people lose their car there and car parking is actually a very important income stream to them so there’s those sorts of benefits from a customer service point of view. There are also other benefits, we do collect very anonymized data, we’re not selling anyone’s data, but we can find out what people are looking for, what they’re searching for, and what sort of routes they’re taking. And then we’ve also got BindiMaps on the web so people can have up to date, which is a big thing, we find that we’re often the single source of truth for people’s maps because they’re very easily get out of date. So yeah, we can put BindiMaps maps on the web as well it all gets updated all together. So there’s quite a few benefits for our customers.

Jennifer Harrison: (15:03)
And how quickly could an environment get BindiMapped?

Dr. Anna Wright: (15:09)
Well, just to think about one of our biggest ones, which would be Stockland Wetherill Park, which is three buildings 70,000 square metres, we did that in less than a day. It doesn’t take very long at all, most of it’s in the background with the devs.

Jennifer Harrison: (15:26)
Okay. And you mentioned you now got Bindi on the web and it’s live. Can you tell us what was it like before and what’s it like now and tell us a little bit more about the product roadmap. Where are you heading?

Dr. Anna Wright: (15:40)
Oh gosh, we’ve got such a big product roadmap. I keep selling things and driving the product team insane because I’m always like, “Why don’t we do this, this would be really fun,” And they’re like, “No, not fun.” So we’re increasing the disabled populations that we can help. So we’re going to put in functionality for people that would prefer to use wheelchair accessible routing. We’re also having a look at doing some autism spectrum stuff so that people can choose routing around those sorts of things. And then there’s a whole bunch of other stuff from the sort of sighted users point of view. Then from the customers point of view, we’re also going to be looking at doing integrations into Google Maps and Apple Maps, again, just to help our customers. At the moment, if you’ve got maps you’ve got to update them in so many different places from your website through to Google Maps, Apple Maps, your exit signs, everything, it ends up being a catastrophic mess from what we’ve seen with the maps that we’ve… If you don’t do a physical walkthrough of some of these venues, you’ve no idea what’s there because the maps are so out of date.

Jennifer Harrison: (16:55)
And if something changes, then what might previously have been wheelchair accessible is no longer wheelchair accessible.

Dr. Anna Wright: (17:03)
Oh that that happens all the time Jennifer, escalators or lifts can break down and then what are you supposed to do? Nobody’s rerouted anyone, there might be a sign saying don’t come in, but nobody’s saying to anyone in a wheelchair there’s another lift around the corner but we can do that and it’s all because it’s software based, it’s very fast to update a route to say that this route is no longer available and that this is an alternate.

Jennifer Harrison: (17:32)
This will still be delivered through the BindiMaps free app?

Dr. Anna Wright: (17:36)
Yes. So from a user’s perspective, download BindiMaps and give it a go.

Jennifer Harrison: (17:42)
Perfect. So thanks so much, that’s really exciting to hear that it’s now not just for social inclusion of visually impaired people but you’re extending into helping include people with other levels of ability as well, that’s really exciting to hear.

Dr. Anna Wright: (17:57)
Thanks Jennifer.

Jennifer Harrison: (17:59)
Actually Pat, let’s talk about credit risk in construction and Anility. Can you tell us please in a nutshell what is Anility, what’s your elevator pitch?

Patrick Connolly: (18:10)
Sure Jen. So Anility is a subscription platform that’s sold to large-scale construction firms to protect their projects against supply chain bankruptcy. So really what we’ve got is a tool that builders use prior to contract award which connects up to the subcontractors financial information so through a Xero or Quickbooks or MYOB. And based off that, we have a series of risk models that can predict financial distress and subcontractors, and those results are delivered back to the customer as an early warning or detection tool.

Jennifer Harrison: (18:39)
Was there any particular inspiration or aha moment you had to develop this solution for that problem?

Patrick Connolly: (18:47)
Yeah. Look, supply chain bankruptcy and construction is just… It’s off the chains in terms of funds that are spent. I think last year there was five billion dollars in unpaid debt, just within construction which is due to default and insolvency. My background, I used to work as a project manager and had a number of projects where subcontractors went bankrupt, and the time and cost involved from a builder’s perspective to remediate that was just extensive. Let alone, I guess it’s a domino effect, you’ve got the client who the builder’s working for, whose reputation is damaged by a delayed project. You’ve got the actual subcontractor themselves that’s fallen over, so the implications with that, don’t have any money to feed the family. So it’s a whole network effect and the problem is that construction’s changing consistently, so there needs to be an ongoing monitoring tool. If you look at current solutions in the market, in terms of pre-contract award financial checks, everything’s static. So I think that was the inspiration.

Jennifer Harrison: (19:49)
Yes, I’m old enough to remember Sydney back in the 1990s after the recession we had to have, and there were many large projects that just came to a halt, and they were literally holes in the ground just with their hoarding sitting there collecting rainwater for years and years and years. So yes, I can imagine that these are very complicated chains that the cash has to move through and that if it gets blocked or stuck at any point, the entire construction project can potentially collapse. What feedback have you had from builders about this?

Patrick Connolly: (20:29)
Yeah, the feedback’s been overwhelmingly good, I think, especially COVID, for some, has been negative obviously, it’s not a good thing that’s happening. But for us, a lot of times construction’s a very outdated industry and a lot of builders have subcontractors that they’ve been working with for hundreds of years and don’t realise the importance of looking at the financial health of their subs. And COVID, for us, has really shined a light on the problem and companies are now starting to realise that, as we move into a new era of construction and we’ve got all these skyscrapers around the cities and across the world and we’re building all these magnificent buildings, the impact of one subcontractor falling over is just catastrophic. So the feedback’s been great, the use of the platform is very easy to use and we’ve really focused and doubled down on the actual subcontractor side of the platform. So if you think of traditional agencies that conduct these financial assessments, it’s usually a one-way relationship where the data is just taken from the third party, but we’re trying to come from a different approach and incentivize that subcontractor market, so giving them additional benefits to provide us with that information.

Patrick Connolly: (21:34)
So part of that is giving them strategies to combat risks that we identify. A lot of times subcontractors don’t even know when they’re going through financial distress which can be scary, so giving them ability to I guess improve the culture between the builder and the subcontractors. So helping the subcontractor I guess having the builder’s assurity, so if the builder sees that the subcontractor is going through distress, the builder comes in and backs a subcontractor through potentially early progress claims or giving them another project when they’re struggling rather than just saying, “Look, we’ve seen that you’re going through troubles, let’s not work with you again.”

Jennifer Harrison: (22:14)
I’m curious to know a little bit more about how you explain the benefits to the subcontractors of allowing their real-time data to be… I mean, I guess from a privacy perspective, you don’t allow any one individual’s data to be seen, is that right? There’s some method of an anonymization or have I got that right?

Patrick Connolly: (22:36)
You’re exactly right. So for us, security is the number one thing. Obviously, financial data is an integral part of an organisation so what we’ve done, we’ve created scoring systems out of 100 so raw data is never shown or shared with any third party on the platform. All the data’s encrypted and if you think of Anility as the middleman between the builder and the subcontractor, so we’ll pull the data out from the subcontractor via an API, we’ll then encrypt it and we’ll then feed that data through our model and then the results are delivered in the form of insights to the customer. So again, one of the biggest concerns to begin with, with subcontractors saying they don’t want the builder to see exactly what people are getting paid and everything else that’s stored in Xero, so if we’re trying to sort of I guess get rid of that black box effect. So within the dashboard for the subcontractor, they see exactly what the builder sees so that builds trust between us, the subcontractor, and the end user.

Jennifer Harrison: (23:34)
Okay. I’m curious to know a little more about how do you sell the benefits to the subcontractors and have you thought about how maybe you can establish some kind of badge or token for subcontractors to use it proactive to say, “Hey, I’m transparent with my data, that’s how I’m going to invest back in my relationship with you the builder?”

Patrick Connolly: (23:59)
Yeah certainly. So in construction at the moment, under bidding is a massive problem for subcontractors. A lot of subcontractors are coming up against probably less experienced parties and putting in quotes that are just unrealistic. The margins in construction are just between one and one and a half percent profit, which is you know quite scary. So a lot of times, we’re trying to build a badging system which essentially becomes Anility-certified. So these subcontractors that provide us with this financial information will get a badge of approval and this badge can then be used to take to new builders to win more work, promote themselves. And I guess if you think of what we’re doing is these financial badges are the first step, there’s a whole element of risk when awarding or selecting a subcontractor, and insolvency is one of them. So part of the product roadmap over time is to build other badges that can help combat this underbidding and I guess become an industry benchmark within the construction sector.

Jennifer Harrison: (25:01)
I’m curious to know as well, so when you’re taking data from Xero or MYOB, potentially every subcontractor has set up their line items and their accounting a little bit differently from each other. So how do you cope with that challenge?

Patrick Connolly: (25:18)
Yeah, great question. So we’ve got quite a complex ETL process. So each time a subcontractor onboards, they obviously select the accounting system they work with. But we then have an interface that allows the subcontractor to customise the way they account. So some subcontractors obviously put non-current current assets and people account completely differently. We obviously need this to flow into our model in one consistent way, so part of the subcontractor’s onboarding is that they’ll set this up from the beginning and then each time that we extract data from their system, it’s pulled in the right way, making sure that that data is then flowed back to the builder. And prior to that also, there’s an approval process so, as I was saying before about the black box, subcontractors want to know exactly what the builder sees they don’t want any surprises. So part of that is an approval process to make sure that the system’s captured it correctly before flowing through into the builders dashboards and portal.

Jennifer Harrison: (26:14)
Okay excellent. And last year Anility participated along with Conexie in Western Sydney University Launch Pads, Urban Futures Accelerator, can you tell us a little bit more about that programme and the benefits to you?

Patrick Connolly: (26:31)
Yeah for sure. Look, The Urban Futures Accelerator Programme for us was awesome. It came at a good time where we just launched into the market. We’d gone through a prior accelerator programme but this was focused for us on business development potentially so partnering up with Landcom and other I guess, large PropTech entities that are associated with Western Sydney Uni so it was really around validating the problem, speaking with other industry Startups such as Matt from Conexie. And yeah, it was great for us, we obviously got a fair bit of work out of that in terms of Western Sydney’s partners, so it was great.

Jennifer Harrison: (27:09)
Excellent, well thanks so much for telling us more about how Anility is helping to promote good governance and understanding of credit risk in construction.

Patrick Connolly: (27:18)
Thank you.

Jennifer Harrison: (27:20)
Matt, can I come back to you now, can you tell us a little bit more about your team at Conexie. Who are your co-founders, and you’ll have to come off mute.

Matthew Waugh: (27:34)
Can you hear me now?

Jennifer Harrison: (27:34)
Yes perfect.

Matthew Waugh: (27:36)
Yeah, so we’ve got Sebastian Jacobs and Jake Hannan are the two other founders at Conexie. Seb is the product guy and Jake is our sales guy and then I sort of work somewhere in between the two of them and try to align the product and the sales to be on a strategic roadmap in some form. Seb’s background, he actually invented a life-saving device prior to doing anything with Conexie which is now used all around the world today in high-rise firefighting techniques, which is pretty cool, so he’s always been someone that’s an innovator looking to improve the way things are or the as is. And Jake, we’re super fortunate to have him involved because he’s just got a background in sort of software implementation and enterprise software solutions. So yeah, the three of us come together and each brings a strength to the table that the other one can can work off.

Jennifer Harrison: (28:31)
Wonderful. Anna, can I ask the same question to you please, can you tell us who you have on board in your team as co-founders at BindiMaps?

Dr. Anna Wright: (28:42)
Yeah so I’ve got two co-founders, I sound a lot like Matt. So I’ve got Mladen Ivanovic who heads up sales and Tony Burrett that looks after all of our product team. So same as Matt, I sort of sit in the middle and try and steer that ship and not have the sales team bug the product team too much and vice versa. But we’re a total team of 10 now split evenly between Melbourne and Sydney.

Jennifer Harrison: (29:11)
Wonderful. And Pat but you’re you’re a solo founder. So you think at some point you could possibly look to bring someone on and give them co-founder status or are you finding this is what you’re going to continue to do at least for the time being?

Patrick Connolly: (29:31)
No. Look, the intention was never to be a solo founder, it’s just the way that it worked out I think. Recently I brought on Justin St. Pierre as a chief operating officer, who’s got a great background in corporate and Startup, who looks after marketing and operations for us. So I take care of most of the sales and just given my background in construction and deep understanding of the construction industry. And then all marketing front and operations and day-to-day stuff, Justin takes care of very well. So it’s been great and we’ve recently brought on a growth marketer as well so the team’s strong at three at the moment and yeah, plan is to recruit and expand the team the rest of the yeah.

Jennifer Harrison: (30:15)
Awesome. Another kind of question about your founder’s journeys so far. Matt, how have you funded Conexie?

Matthew Waugh: (30:22)
Yeah, so we engaged in a seed raise once we had our MVP in market, which helped us sort of go from our sticks and glue version through to our robust enterprise solution that we have now. So yeah, we were really fortunate, we found some people that were in the markets, that we were looking to penetrate, that really saw the exciting element of what we were doing, and they wanted to not only be involved as advisors, they wanted to have skin in the game they could see that there was a significant potential behind the solution. So that’s where our seed raised came from and then now that we’ve sort of got that established market fit where we’re looking at what the next stage is and how do we effectively scale our organisation and that might come in the shape of another sort of a Pre-series A or a Series A raise in the near future.

Jennifer Harrison: (31:13)
Awesome. And Anna, at BindiMaps, can you tell us a little bit about how BindiMaps has funded itself along the journey?

Dr. Anna Wright: (31:21)
We’ve done three raises now Jennifer so we actually very crazily did a raise right in the middle of COVID, which was a bit of a challenge but it ended up being over subscribed, so we’ve got a mixture of venture capitalists through to high net worth individuals mainly all interested in the impact investment space because of our work with people with a disability and getting full inclusion in our public buildings.

Jennifer Harrison: (31:52)
Perfect thanks. And Pat, how have you funded Anility to date?

Patrick Connolly: (31:56)
So when we first started, we had a friends and family around that invested in the business which allowed us to build out the MVP. We then had University of New South Wales invest a small chunk of cash into the business in a safe note, and the rest has been bootstrapped and customer driven since then. But look, we’re looking to open our, probably a seed round within the next six weeks so we’ll be going out to a bunch of construction execs within the space high net worth individuals. And then also we’ve started to attract a bit of interest from the insurance space so potentially pioneering with brokers who would recently sell our products to their customers so probably targeting someone from that insurance angle would also be good to bring on from both the capital and a strategic point of view.

Jennifer Harrison: (32:44)
Yes, I can absolutely say that in the banking and insurance community often they’re I think asked to provide either performance guarantees or insurance against failure to complete, and I think the data that you’re doing, also the work you’re doing first of all, reduces the risk that that guarantee or insurance would be called on, but secondly, it’s more interesting work for them potentially to access some data that lets them price what they do more accurately as well, so I could see that could definitely be of interest.

Patrick Connolly: (33:12)
Yeah, I think that the insurance angle for us is an interesting one because we’ve recently had a couple of conversations with some insurance firms in the US. And in the US, for any government construction projects, there’s a policy called subcontractor default insurance which is mandated and that purely protects the general contractor or the builder against subcontractors going default. So we’ve had some really promising conversations of late around partnering with these organisations who then push our product out in tandem with their policies to sort of combat that which is beneficial from both the insurer who can then I guess prevent claim payouts from the builder but then also from the builder saving them from the headache of having to go through that process, so it’s probably a next target for us.

Jennifer Harrison: (34:01)
And as you said before, things can change very, very quickly. So if you don’t have access to real-time data, you’ve only got very static and historical data which doesn’t necessarily just let you adjust your risk appetite or pricing in real time.

Patrick Connolly: (34:14)
Yeah, that’s exactly right. I think the construction space is probably one of the most unique space in terms of every day risks are changing, variables are up and down so having a real-time monitoring of that financial health is critical because if you think of the length of a construction project that goes for three years long, sometimes doing one upfront financial check a subcontractor who’s using information from six months before the project started can be meaningless in some ways. So having that live data feed that goes through consistently is just beneficial for everyone involved.

Jennifer Harrison: (34:47)
Okay I should say, if anyone does have a question for Matthew, Anna or Patrick, please do use the Q&A function. You should be able to see it at the bottom middle of your screen. Please just pop any questions you have in there. I did also want to check that you knew about PropTech Association Australia’s inaugural PropTech Awards. Might you possibly have heard about the PropTech Awards and even have entered? Matt, what’s your answer?

Matthew Waugh: (35:22)
Conexie has thrown its hat in the ring. We’ve put an application in for the Smart Cities Startup solution so we’re in it to win it.

Jennifer Harrison: (35:33)
Awesome. Okay perfect, let’s bring in Anna. Have you potentially got your application underway, I think you’d probably also be a Smart Cities, Smart Buildings candidate although in the scale-up category.

Dr. Anna Wright: (35:49)
Yeah. Well, I heard about the awards earlier, thank you Jennifer. So yes, we’ll certainly be having a look at them.

Jennifer Harrison: (35:57)
Perfect, we’ll be following up on that. And lastly Pat, I think maybe since you’re in construction, you might be in the design and development category. Have you had a look? Will you undertake here live on the PropTech panel to take a look at our property [inaudible 00:36:16]?

Patrick Connolly: (36:17)
I definitely will. Thank you for the heads up. No, I wasn’t aware of the award but I will certainly be taking a look after this.

Jennifer Harrison: (36:23)
Okay awesome. Like I said, any questions for the panel, please do use them in the Q&A. Otherwise, we might…

Kylie Davis: (36:31)
Hey Jen.

Jennifer Harrison: (36:31)
… just do one more round and then kind of bring it to a close. Matt, is there anything we haven’t spoken of yet that you would love the viewers to know about Conexie?

Matthew Waugh: (36:43)
I think just talking about the fact, obviously our business operates in the renewable space, but really putting an emphasis on the fact that we’re only just scratching the surface, not specifically Conexie, but the construction or the PropTech landscape as a whole, is only really just scratching the surface and what we can do with the renewable energy. I think the panels and the hardware and everything else has sort of developed exponentially and it’s got to a point where it’s incredible pieces of hardware and now we’re in a position where well, what software, what opportunity can we have now to optimise and to maximise the benefits we’re getting out of this? So I think for anyone who’s potentially interested or wants to know more about the renewable space, I think now is definitely time to sort of dive in head first and find out about all the opportunities in front of you, because there’s just so many incredible things that we can do in that space now and yeah, there’s a lot of solutions out there to maximise it.

Jennifer Harrison: (37:37)
Thank you And Anna, same question to you, is there anything that we haven’t spoken of that you’d love people to know about BindiMaps.

Dr. Anna Wright: (37:46)
Well I’d just like to mention for everybody that’s watching the panel just how important it is to think about your buildings as being fully inclusive. A lot of times when I go through buildings with somebody in a wheelchair or somebody who’s vision impaired and I realise what an enormous struggle it can be to navigate something even as simple as a shopping centre when people are having to try, if you’re vision impaired, trying to smell to see what the different shops are because, if there are braille signs there, I challenge all of you to go to your shopping centre close your eyes and try and find the bathrooms by using a braille sign. Braille is useful absolutely, but it doesn’t actually get you to the proper doorway so a lot of our big buildings are desperately non-accessible and I just think as we’re getting better on renewable energies, as Matt talks about, we’re getting better on our contracting and that sort of thing, let’s also get better on diversity inclusion and making sure that all of our public spaces are for everyone, not just for non-disabled Australians.

Jennifer Harrison: (39:00)
Because I think, I’m not sure if I’ve got this statistic right, but something like one in five Australians have some aspect, either mentally or physically, that means what you’re offering is relevant to them. I mean one in five that’s 20% of us, that’s not a small minority at all.

Dr. Anna Wright: (39:23)
No, it’s not a small minority at all and then if you overlay that one in every 42 Australians is blind or vision impaired, I challenge anyone to go out to a shopping centre or a university or an office building and see whether every one in every 42 people is there using a white cane or a guide dog. And yeah just then you’re dealing with enormous under representation and also non economic participation by a whole bunch, 20% of Australians it’s awful so we’re going to change all that.

Jennifer Harrison: (39:58)
Or I guess then possibly we restrict how we participate. I mean, I’d have to say I tend to park in exactly the same place every single time I go to a certain shopping centre, and in fact I will take the same route around that shopping centre because I am so nervous and generally I’m quite time poor. If I get lost, it’s impossible to know where you are and how you meant to get back to your car so I find I just don’t take that risk which means the tenants in that shopping centre are not getting the benefit of me as passing traffic because I’m not passing them because I’m restricting based on…

Dr. Anna Wright: (40:39)
And you don’t even know they’re there.

Jennifer Harrison: (40:42)
Wonderful. And like I said, I can see there is one question for you Matt in the Q&A but let me just finish with Pat, was there anything else about Anility that we haven’t spoken of that you’d like to make sure everyone knows?

Patrick Connolly: (40:55)
Yeah, I think it’s just probably worth considering anyone that’s going to do renovations to the house or anyone that does construction work in general, I think a trend that’s been around for a long time now is, who’s the cheapest quote and everyone usually goes with that lowest quote or if they don’t they go the one up. Now I think it’s important to note that the lowest quote doesn’t necessarily represent the best nor the worst, I think it’s important to do due diligence around whoever that you’re engaging. Yes, financial due diligence is one component of the overall risk profile of an organisation but I think it’s important to go that level deep and always ask the questions because investing in any sort of construction work is complex and it takes a lot of time and if things go south, as you know everyone’s got that horror story of something going wrong in construction. So just whenever you’re engaging, keep your wits about you and make sure you do the research beforehand.

Jennifer Harrison: (41:48)
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And the question that’s come up in the chat, I might actually ask it to all three of you. Patrick, is there anyone else doing anything similar, do you have any competitors solving for this particular problem of credit risk.

Patrick Connolly: (42:00)
Yeah, so generally we come up against sort of two organisations. The first is internal. So the CFO for a company that we’re selling to does financial checks themselves on subcontractors. And then the second is traditional agents who’s like an Equifax or Dun & Bradstreet, the sort of difference between Anility and these two is that they’re both static so it’s based off a point in time, it’s not continuous, whereas anility is a real-time monitoring tool which is suited to construction. So they’re the two that we’re coming up against but it’s just again now it’s just educating the market as to the needs an ongoing tool.

Jennifer Harrison: (42:35)
Wonderful. And Matt, in your space, who do you compete with?

Matthew Waugh: (42:41)
Well, I guess as a holistic view, we compete with the traditional energy retailers to a degree. I mean, it’s in their interest to try and protect their market share. So what we do is we focus on the software, which has actually meant that we’ve partnered with some of these energy retailers. And then on a similar vein, there’s companies like solar analytics who sort of work more in the space of monitoring specifically, there’s a lot of monitoring companies, but what Conexie does which kind of is a bit different in how we focus our solution is we couple that monitoring with communication workflows. So the trigger of the monitoring actually stimulates the opportunity to collaborate and come up with a resolution as opposed to just monitoring, if that makes sense? And then the final competitor we have is a lot of, depending on the tier of the hardware purchased, some of them come with their own onboard monitoring capabilities.

Matthew Waugh: (43:39)
But again, the integration and the onboarding process of those systems is very clunky and also limited in its capabilities. So what we really try and do is, even if they have all of these existing competitors, we actually are a value add on top of that still. So solar analytics for example, we can clip in with their offering. So they might already have the monitoring of the site but then they could add us to their offering to the client, meaning that they can do the monitoring through their platform and the communication through Conexie.

Jennifer Harrison: (44:09)
Okay. And Anna, lastly, are there any competitors to you and also I suppose some people might say, “Well, why doesn’t Google Maps just work inside,” but I guess there’s the element of you have to know which floor you’re on? Is that part is that part of the answer?

Dr. Anna Wright: (44:28)
That’s part of it and also GPS won’t reach, which is what google maps is based on. So yeah, obviously we’ve got a lot of competitors but again just to point out the difference, we know where you are, so we can locate you in space. A lot of our competitors will say, “Well, you tell me where you are.” So you’re standing outside JB Hi-Fi and then tell me where you want to go and we’ll draw a route on a map for you. But of course, again, if you’re blind or vision impaired you don’t necessarily know exactly what store you’re standing outside of. So our location ability is fairly unique for what we’re doing and then also the accessibility features. I mean, I challenge, again, we’ll put out another challenge anyone who’s making any apps, and this includes Matt and Patrick as well, to make sure that they are accessible to people who are blind or vision impaired because why should they miss out?

Jennifer Harrison: (45:24)
Absolutely.

Dr. Anna Wright: (45:25)
But it’s not that easy.

Jennifer Harrison: (45:28)
It’s funny, so I do remember once my GPS-based SatNav, I was actually in the Sydney Harbour tunnel and my SatNav told me to get into the left-hand lane so I could turn onto the car expressway.

Dr. Anna Wright: (45:43)
Very useful.

Jennifer Harrison: (45:44)
I don’t think you can do that from the tunnel.

Dr. Anna Wright: (45:48)
But it didn’t know where you were in the tunnel it was guessing. [crosstalk 00:45:54].

Jennifer Harrison: (45:53)
Awesome, well I think that about brings us to time. Thank you so much for being guests today, Matthew Waugh, Head of Growth and Partnerships at Conexie.

Matthew Waugh: (46:02)
Not a problem, thank you so much for having me on the panel.

Jennifer Harrison: (46:05)
Anna Wright, CEO of BindiMaps.

Dr. Anna Wright: (46:08)
Thanks Jennifer.

Jennifer Harrison: (46:10)
And Patrick Connolly, CEO of Anility.

Patrick Connolly: (46:13)
Thanks for having us Jen, it was a pleasure.

Jennifer Harrison: (46:15)
My pleasure too. And lastly, for those of you who haven’t been over to the PropTech Association Australia’s website lately, please do. Details of how you can join us as a member are there. Details of how you can enter for the PropTech Awards is there as well. Entries are due by Friday the 19th of March and we’re going to have a Gala Event Pandemic Meeting in Sydney on Thursday the 27th of May with satellite events in other locations and there’ll be a live stream as well. I think that’s all for now. I’m Jennifer Harrison, I’m Vice President of the PropTech Association Australia and I look forward to seeing you for another PropTech panel on this soon.

Comments

No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply