Charter Hall will look to invest or partner with four new start-ups spanning virtual reality, crowdfunding, cloud-based property maintenance and 3D modelling after declaring its first start-up accelerator program a "huge success".
The four successful businesses – InSpaceXR, BricksandAgent.com, Snaploader and Estate Baron – were selected from an initial pool of nearly 50 applications received as part of a five-month program undertaken in collaboration with start-up accelerator consultancy Collective Campus.
Hoping to get the disruption jump on its commercial property rivals, Charter Hall wanted to identify and nurture start-ups whose offerings could benefit the acquisition and management of commercial property as well as improve its property funds management business.
The four businesses are now participating in a 13-week incubation period to fine-tune their offerings, after which they can pitch their solutions to the owner and manager of almost $22 billion in offices, industrial, logistics and retail property.Charter Hall chief technology officer Aidan Coleman said that, given the choice, the A-REIT would look to "potentially invest or become a strategic customer" to all of them.
"Some amazing ideas have come from these entrepreneurs trying to solve problems they have encountered or observed themselves," said Mr Coleman.
The successful start-ups include immersive virtual reality offering InSpaceXR, founded by Justin Liang, which could potentially help Charter Hall visualise and market its assets to tenants and investors.
Bricks & Agent, founded by entrepreneurs Jon Stuhl (the son of Shopkins billionaire Manny Stuhl) and Rafael Niesten is a cloud-based platform focused on streamlining residential property management and maintenance. This will now be developed through the Charter Hall incubator program to handle retail property and facilities management.
Mr Stuhl said the company had enough money to self-fund itself indefinitely but would consider taking on investors "if there is a strategic benefit".
"We don't need money. We need doors opened and to get access to the right people," he told The Australian Financial Review.
Snaploader, which has developed a web-viewer that enables potential tenants and investors to access an interactive 3D model of properties is already being used by Charter Hall's industrial business to support lease negotiations. The business was founded by former Hugo Boss Australia MD Erik Fink.
Estate Baron is a blockchain-enabled property development and investment crowdfunding platform. Mr Coleman said Charter Hall saw potential synergies with this platform and its emerging millennial investor base.
Collective Campus CEO Steve Glaveski said the incubator program would get the start-ups to the point where they were either ready for funding or for Charter Hall to tap into the technology.
"Proptech is growing quickly around the world," Mr Glaveski said. " A recent KPMG report forecast it to reach $US20 billion of investment by 2020," he said.