Disruption Is Not a Dirty Word

Reimag’s Digitalization Conference inspires delegates to find revenue streams for their digital offerings.


You don’t have to ‘go viral’ to be a successful property investor, but a growing market of buyers, renters and investors want to engage with you digitally, delegates heard at the annual Real Estate Investor Magazine’s Digit- ilization conference in Cape Town and Johannesburg in Feb- ruary. And it’s this engagement that will be your business’ se- cret weapon for winning the battle for market share.

‘We have currency in digital: data. Even if you’re not statisticians, you can use data to find your market,’ said Anja Viviers, founder and digital specialist at Mana Technologies, a digital strategy business.

According to Viviers, the property industry’s target market is willingly offering up their interests, location, income level and hopes and dreams regarding property on a daily business. By simply looking at the information businesses like estate agents already have access to, a better and more accurate marketing strategy can be developed. This, however, is but the beginning. Delegates at the conference were shown how access to some basic information can completely transform your business to be highly relevant and a more profitable enterprise.

‘We quickly realised that the medium income markets are completely disruptable. Using data we could see which additional services in the home renting space was costing our clients a lot of money and those are the areas we focused on to take over,’ said Ben Shaw, CEO at HouseMe, a digital platform that connects prospective tenants to landlords with full automation of the letting agency process with fair and transparent rental pricing – all for a fraction of traditional fees.

‘In the long run, data wins, because the market we’re trying to tap into is exactly the same as everyone else’s’ said Shaw. According to Shaw, using data will naturally let businesses evolve into being ‘cross-platform’, offering multiple services to their clients.

And just as the digital world is reshaping the way we connect with our customers, so it’s redefining how our businesses will work in the near-future.

Allowing your clients to decide what your website looks like, offering them cash to contribute or employing your tenants to scope out potential rental properties? To the 20 somethings behind DigSConnect.com, South Africa’s largest student housing marketplace, this approach has been a major part of their strategy – and their success.

‘We are committed to creating a community, so that every student feels like they can belong,’ said Alexandria Procter, founder and director at DigsConnect.com

‘Creating DigsConnect was about reimagining student accommodation. Digitising the process of finding student accommodation meant removing the bad parts associated with the process,’ says Alexandria.

DigsConnect.com has connected hundreds of landlords with student tenants, and students with digs mates. ‘As recent graduates we know how important it is to find a safe place to live. Look out for the verified tick on certain properties, meaning that we have personally visited and verified the property,’ she said.

On DigsConnect.com parents or students can search and compare hundreds of properties and find the perfect fit.
There’s also a ‘Find a digsmate’ feature to connect people in a safe and user-friendly way. Landlords can create free property listings. Students will message them directly through DigsConnect.

Delegates at the conference left reassured: just because the new generation of house buyers, property investors and renters want to connect digitally, doesn’t mean they don’t want to connect at all.