You’ve started a company on a very small island nation at the lower end of the pacific ocean. You’ve two choices when it comes to your market in your country; own it, or be global from day one.
A brief background. I am the CEO and a co-founder of Kitt, and we put Real Estate Assets on Autopilot for Property Investors through a simple cloud-platform.
We’re based in New Zealand, a country with less than 5,000,000 people living in it, and our market, private real estate investors totals around 120,000 people. Many of whom are in the upper age bracket where tech-adoption rates are incredibly low.
On the flip-side to New Zealand, The United States has around 30,000,000 potential users in our market with more than half of them in ages brackets with moderate to high tech-adoption rates and it’s a market where real estate is treated as as much as an entrepreneurial feat as any tech-startup is.
For us at Kitt, the choice was obvious. We came to the conclusion that our local market would be too small for us to consider owning it, as the market had only just started adopting technology, marketing to them exclusively would be expensive and time consuming and the growth of the market would be too slow to drive long-term revenue. But taking a global first approach had issues of its own. Complexities in the law, the culture and the standards of individual geographies would cause development issues as well as growth issues if we did not have a product that could span continents with ease.
It was obvious that we needed to think about the market as a whole, and not locally, we decided to look at shared problems that our future customers had, regardless of where they were based and apply that thinking to what we were building.
One thing we had going for us in the local market, though it’s small there was still a tiny group considering themselves serious real estate investors who are taking the wave of incoming PropTech offerings seriously, and they like talking to us. We’ve managed to talk with over 100 real estate investors, many with just a few properties, and a surprising amount with many, many more. They told us the problems they faced in varying amounts of detail. We took these problems and then began scouring the hang-outs of the wider global audience in search of the same issues.
Not to our surprise the issues were the same, regardless of where they were located, be it the U.S, NZ, Australia or the U.K.
We took a serious look at our offering, and what our strong-points were in our product that could be accessible regardless of where the user may be based.
The big pain.
Our global and local market had something in common, and shared the problem that was tracking income & expenses automatically while keeping a full audit trail to free up the users time, and make tax day hassle free and less expensive. This was something we could do, and do well. We had already built a full accounting system, which also used accounting principles which are more or less shared globally (yes there are exceptions here).
This would lay the foundations for what would become the niche focus for Kitt. The best, and most simple way to track and manage real estate assets automatically no matter where you are.
What we’ve learnt so far.
Real Estate is a market riddled with problems that need solving everywhere you look, NZ, U.S, U.K, upside-down, left or right they’re everywhere. It’s also a slow moving beast, but it’s quickly gaining momentum with technology. In our particular market within Real Estate, people are literally ‘hacking’ together Real Estate setups for accounting systems, analysis tools, property management tools and much more. Start turning those hacks into products people love.
Talking to people in your local market is not enough if you want to have a company that spans oceans fast. Treat your local and global audience the same, and uncover the shared pain-points which can be addressed with a single, simple implementation regardless of location.
All in all, building a global-from-day-one Real Estate product is incredibly tough, but at least it’s interesting.