We talked to Philip Verzun of Consorto on how a real estate technology company connects professional investors to commercial real estate investment opportunities across Europe and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Philip Verzun: We are all well, thank-you. Like most other countries, the number of COVID-19 cases in Estonia, where I live, have been rising, and various restrictions are in place. As Consorto is an international company, our employees and partners are often working from home offices. What we have learned from this challenging year is that together we are stronger.
We look forward to more opportunities for collaboration in 2021 in the commercial real estate sector, and as a company, we have exciting plans for the year ahead.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Consorto.
Philip Verzun: Since I founded Consorto in March 2018, we have grown from a start-up to process property listings worth more than €18 billion in more than 25 countries across Europe. Key to our success has been continuously moving ahead with technical innovations to help investors grow their network, find relevant listings and help both buyers and sellers improve the sales experience. Doing so takes a considerable investment, but it is worth it as we succeed in our aim to faster exchange data between property providers, decision-makers of significant real estate investment funds and high net worth investors.
How does Consorto innovate?
Philip Verzun: Consorto is the software that powers commercial property professionals and matches investors with real estate in Europe. Our single pan-European B2B online platform integrates AI-driven deal-matching with deal-flow automation. We have introduced a standardized fact sheet format for presenting essential property information. We use profile based matchmaking to connect investors to the right assets. User experience and speed of communication have been our key focus since day one.
Also, we offer verified users a personalized dashboard to manage listing information for public and off-market listings and wanted property requests. Consorto helps the commercial real estate community to connect and to generate relevant leads in a shorter time. To summarize, as one investor put it, “Consorto is dragging the commercial real estate search out of the 19th century.”
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Philip Verzun: COVID-19 has undoubtedly hit the commercial real estate sector in Europe, as travel restrictions have made it more difficult for investors to appraise a property. But online platforms have drawn more traffic, and Consorto has taken the opportunity to introduce important new features. Our Deal Flow automated communications process and our Smart Match tool allow sellers to identify potential interest from hundreds of active investors.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Philip Verzun: Perhaps the most challenging challenge for start-ups and growing businesses is finding the right person for the job. Candidates who look ideal ‘on paper’ can sometimes disappoint when it comes to delivering or failing to grasp company culture adequately, so recruiting well-qualified staff that fit into the open company culture and deliver on KPIs is now a significant focus. Looking back, I would put more emphasis on that. Over the next year, we aim to grow our network of Business Developers across Europe, who identify active market participants, build long-term relationships and generate new leads, listings and sales.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Consorto in the future?
Philip Verzun: I work hard and play hard. I enjoy sports, including golf and tennis and getting outdoors. Consorto has been delighted to win a clutch of industry honors including awards for FinTech, Innovation & Excellence, Artificial Intelligence and Real Estate and Property. It has provided a focus for marketing and a boost for our morale. Early in 2021, we will introduce a solution for the investors, and we are excited about the future.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Philip Verzun: Innovative Proptech solutions have a regular introduction into local markets, and we often find ourselves competing with very traditional internal company software solutions.
Our unique focus is on CRE across key markets in Europe, combined with our powerful software and technical innovation that helps us keep growing.
Relevant matchmaking through our Smart Match system, verified user and property profiles, pay-only-as-you-close deals business model. Which means no sign-up or subscription fees – and our automated Deal Flow communications tool are also game-changers.
For a proptech company, it is, of course, vital that our proptech services are always cutting-edge and we are always looking at new ways to improve property data, networking, communications and sales through technology.
Lack of standard data is a problem for European cross-border investors. That is why Consorto provides a uniform data model so investors can easily compare property options.
Your final thoughts?
Philip Verzun: Property brokers and sellers in Europe are still often reluctant to share listing data, and the sector is generally slow to adopt change. One benefit the pandemic has brought to business patterns is that companies are now more willing to embrace PropTech solutions and safer ways to share data that Consorto provides.
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