Kristjan Byfield is a busy man, despite the Christmas slowdown. As well as running his London estate agency base property, he’s also in the process of launching his self-funded deposits processing platform and has just joined the board of industry body the UK Proptech Association. Nigel Lewis caught up with him.
Has The Depositary launched yet?
“We made difficult decision in July to undertake a massive overhaul of what we had built after a year of Beta testing with 70 tenancies including the mobile interface and major functionalities, which didn’t work well enough.
“There’s no point releasing a product you’re not happy with and although we were originally hoping to launch at the EA Masters, I expect the official launch to happen in late January.
Why have you joined the UK Proptech Association board?
“I’ve been a member and supporter since it began three years ago, and I’ve seen how hard it is to persuade companies to put their money where their mouth is and pay to join, but there’s been a lot of change since Sammy Pahal came on board 18 months ago as its MD.
“It’s also been too commercial property orientated; the boards needs more residential proptech people.
“Along with the US we are seen as the top proptech innovators in the world and we need to shout louder about our successes including companies like Fixflo.
“I think proptech firms need to talk less about their huge funding deals and enormous valuations, and more about how they are listening to agents and building the tech around their needs.
“Proptech companies need agents on board before they launch and during the R&D stages; there’s no point telling agents that they need to totally transform how they run their business.”
Are agents being overwhelmed by too much tech?
“Integration is the challenge for proptech and REAPIT’s open API Foundation platform will be a huge game changer in the industry.
“I think there will a largely open CRM marketplace across the industry by the end of next year and agents who use most of the CRM systems will be able to plug in any service or product they want.
“I’ve been banging on my chest about open CRM systems for several years now.”