Dilan Omari-Clark is a PropTech Recruitment Consultant – Head of Europe at LMRE, a specialist recruitment firm that connects the brightest talent with the most innovative PropTech companies across Europe. She founded an online real estate business at the age of 23 and sold it 5 years later. Now, she heads up a team helping a variety of companies recruit for roles such as C-levels, Product Management, BIM, Venture Capital Analysts and many more across territories including DACH, France, Benelux, Nordics, Italy and Spain.

We wanted to learn more about how she views the Proptech ecosystem and the main challenges and opportunities these companies come across in their development.

Main takeaways:

  • The European PropTech space is active and it is important to keep it connected
  • Capital is the most important resource PropTech startups need in order to grow
  • One of the most important property technologies we will see evolve in 2021 is related to sustainability within property
  • Finding talent and bureaucracy are both the main obstacles and opportunities for PropTech companies

What proptech companies are looking for, in terms of talent

Working for a PropTech company is very different to working for a traditional real estate one, which means employers have different hiring needs. Dilan Omari-Clark tells us how things are happening at LMRE:

At LMRE, we recruit for roles starting from specialist PropTech VC Funds functions (Analyst to Partner level), to recruiting for the VC’s portfolio companies starting at C-Level and trickling down to operational and front of house roles such as (SAAS) sales and marketing, as well as any developer roles. I wouldn’t say that any particular role is more needed than the rest as they’re all intertwined, and one can’t do without the other.” 

There is certainly a shortage of Talent in PropTech in general which makes our specialist approach to the industry very valuable as we know the places for the right talent and we have an established talent pool across Europe, UK, US and soon APAC.”   

An awareness campaign for PropTech

If you follow Dilan on LinkedIn, you will see that she is constantly promoting various startups or companies as part of an awareness campaign. She says that she isn’t doing this just to help people understand what PropTech is, but also to raise awareness about all the subcategories the industry is composed of.

As Head of Europe, it is also very important to me to showcase how active the European PropTech space is and connect the ecosystem further. So far, the response to the posts has been very positive from both PropTech and talent sides who all extract different values from the posts. The Proptechs benefit from some free marketing to my network that now consists of over 16,000 connections and the candidates benefit by learning about the different companies and potential employers out there.”    

The evolution of the PropTech startup ecosystem

When asked what PropTech startups need in order to grow and further develop their products or services, Dilan thinks that it all comes down to one thing: Capital.

I am by no means an expert on this topic, but by simply being active in this space and having the direct comparison to my colleagues in the US and UK, I feel that the European counterparts are at a clear disadvantage currently. 

There are specialist Proptech VCs in Europe. Oftentimes they are still investing out of their first fund up to Series A though. A European Proptech can count themselves lucky when it is able to raise 5M Euros at this stage. We have American PropTechs raising over 100M US Dollars, it just doesn’t compare.  

Capital then facilitates tackling challenges such as Talent attraction (and retention), overcoming bureaucracy in Europe and overall being able to scale faster.” 

In terms of attractive markets, although there aren’t many spaces in Europe where we can’t find active PropTech startups, Dilan says, there are some areas where this ecosystem seems to see an accelerated growth:

If I had to pinpoint a couple of markets that are particularly active and ripe for investment that stand out to me would be the DACH regions, Benelux and Nordics. Berlin and Paris, probably unsurprisingly, also stand out as very active European PropTech capitals.

What 2021 has in store

Are there some specific property technologies we are going to see evolve more in 2021? Dilan Omari-Clark thinks although people are thinking about obvious solutions that affect the rental, sale and operation of residential and commercial real estate, PropTech has more diverse categories we should pay attention to.

One of the most important property technologies we will see evolve in 2021 must be any technology that addresses sustainability within property as it remains one of the core industries impacting on climate change. There is a lot of exciting stuff happening with big traditional real estate funds launching funds with a focus on sustainability to push this topic forward.” 

A real estate revolution through technology

“100% yes” is Dilan’s answer when asked if technology is disrupting the real estate industry and this happens especially because of COVID 19. But change doesn’t come easy and there are some obstacles companies who want to transform the industry might face:

For Europe, I’d have to highlight the following obstacles: 

Access to Capital as mentioned above 

Talent. We have some of the brightest minds in Europe. The difficulty is that we don’t have enough Talent in comparison to what is required unless we have a percentage of the population that will up- or re-skill.  

Bureaucracy. This would be the number one obstacle but since capital can usually overcome this by employing the right legal counsel and other advisors, it didn’t make number one on my list. It’s a big headache for Proptechs scaling from one European country to the next. This, again, puts European PropTechs at a clear disadvantage to US counterparts. I have actually written a blog about it.“

 At the same time, opportunities might be bigger than ever for companies that activate in the PropTech field, and Dilan points out a few of them:

It is a new market that is in its infancy and there are still so many challenges in real estate that can be addressed by technology. This obviously also presents an opportunity for investors who will then be attracted to the space. The more investors, the more capital for our PropTechs.  

Talent. I don’t have hard facts to back up this statement, I can only comment based on what I am seeing in the market. I think even up until very recently a lot of European Talent was still very much drawn to the US and UK start-up ecosystem. Maybe because of the recent turmoil in the US, Brexit and the overall effects of COVID, we either see European Talent moving back to Europe or staying put in Europe in the first place whereas they previously would have considered a move. There is a pride amongst young Europeans in their own start-up ecosystems and cities such as Berlin are attracting Talent from across the world “

To conclude, she says that although bureaucracy can be a big obstacle for PropTech companies, it can also represent an opportunity, as it adds a layer of protectionism:

“It makes it difficult for new entrants into any new market and can allow our European PropTechs to mature in their own market before facing threats of foreign competition on home turf from day one. “ 

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