Finding challenging problems to work on is important to Chen Rosen, co-founder and managing partner of Reality PropTech. That’s part of the reason he has held a variety of roles in different industries as he follows his passions and looks for the next interesting challenge to take on. He was drawn to the PropTech industry because it is so young and not well defined yet. Rosen says that makes it extra challenging and makes him glad to be involved. At Reality PropTech, his mission is to nurture the real estate ecosystem and bring entrepreneurs and real estate players together. Rosen says startups need to help real estate companies see the need to change and the benefits it can bring. While he thinks a shift will start at the edges of real estate, he predicts that within 10 years, there will be big changes to the core of the industry.
Going through all such different activities, roles, and industries you’ve been in, can you connect the dots for me as to who Chen Rosen is?
My career actually demonstrates the fact that I’m going after my passion. When I’m passionate about something, I will explore it, follow it, and make sure that I understand it deeply. Every six months, I am looking for something new that I can explore and get to know about. That’s the reason that I was involved in many fields and roles as an entrepreneur and as an exec in tech communication, PropTech, customer experience, and so on. I’m really excited about new things. That’s the reason that my bio is so diverse.
If you are looking today at what you are doing, what are you really excited about in 2022?
I’m excited, first of all, about PropTech because PropTech itself is a new thing. The more it’s new and challenging, the more I get excited. So the challenge is the thing that makes me so grateful and happy that I’m part of this journey.
Second, the people and the founders that I meet along the way. They are so enthusiastic about what they are doing. People with vision and smart people that can execute this vision consistently is something that really makes me excited.
Tell me about your decision to focus on PropTech. Tell me about this industry as you’ve seen it evolve over the last few years.
The first thing is that the industry is very young. We can see, over the last two or three years, companies that started from prototype and the idea and evolved into now $56 to 60 million companies, cap value. Once you see that somebody is willing to pay for your product, you understand there is a product and there is a need.
PropTech itself, when I first spoke about it with friends and some family in the real estate industry, people couldn’t even define what PropTech is. Property Technology, but what exactly it means. That also made me feel that I want to explore this and understand much better, and even what the boundaries for PropTech are. If you are talking about the real estate world, it’s a huge world. It’s really hard to define it. If it’s hard to define it, it means that it’s even more challenging. Once it’s more challenging, it’s part of the reason that I’m into this industry.
What are the different ways in which you see this industry booming now? How is this going to impact the way that we live our life?
It’s a very young industry. There are, I would say, tens that have already reached the $100 million mark value company. I think that the more that we have, in Israel and abroad, companies with people who come from 8200 or 81 units into the PropTech industry, we can say that people actually prefer PropTech. We start seeing this trend already. I think that this is a good sign.
The real estate funds are starting to recruit CTOs. Once you see CTOs as part of these companies, you understand that technology has become a strategic initiative for these guys. They want to invest money. I think that this is great news for all of us.
Reality Ventures within Reality Group, let’s dive into that.
Reality Group is a real estate fund. Today, it’s the biggest group of real estate funds in Israel. Reality PropTech is the way of Reality Fund to be innovative, to be involved in the PropTech itself. At the end of the day, it definitely can contribute to the top and bottom line. But I think that it includes many other elements and objectives other than being profitable. Reality put their money where their mouth is because we have few startups that have already been part of our journey and Reality has been a design partner for these startups. We are investing in these startups.
Part of the mission that I have is to nurture the ecosystem, to make sure that the ecosystem of founders, startups, and real estate players understand each other and support each other. It’s less hard to penetrate a software company with a cyber solution than to penetrate into a real estate fund or company with a PropTech solution. The real estate industry is a very successful one. You are asking yourself, and I’m also asking myself and my friends, “Why change?” You have to make sure that you find a sense of urgency in this company and the need to change, otherwise they won’t purchase your product. These companies are very successful, so you really have to be laser-focused on what you are doing. My role is to help all these sides around the table understand each other, and make sure that it will be a win-win situation for all of us.
Real estate has been relatively a good investment and a pretty long-term one, and here you are introducing venture capital and startups. How do you balance that with a larger global mindset of what real estate represents?
No company wants to change unless it has to change, unless there is a sense of urgency. I think that the Covid pandemic was part of the sense of urgency that companies in the real estate industry understood that they have to change in order to stay in business and be profitable again. You have to find day after day what exactly are the things that make these real estate companies feel that they need to change and they need to adopt your solution because it can bring some benefits.
Also, I have to work closely with the real estate developers and landlords and property managers to make sure that they understand that the journey of a startup is a learned journey and they have to support them and not get all the benefits at once. I’m not downgrading the fear and the concern that the real estate guys have. These guys are running a very successful business, on the other hand with low margins. We have to make sure that once we provide a solution, it’s a working solution that does not jeopardize their core business.
Where do you see your vision for PropTech, Reality Ventures, and your own journey?
For PropTech, I think that my vision is the same revolution that we have had with FinTech and automobiles. I think that we are going to involve digital solutions, at the beginning, as part of the peripheral real estate. Not exactly the core solutions. Changing the way that we build buildings will change dramatically in the next five years. I believe that in the next 10 years, we’ll see big change in the core of the real estate industry, the way that we are building buildings, the way that we are renovating, and so on.
I think that for Reality PropTech, we will be part of this journey. I see our role as the one who have to nurture the ecosystem and flourish together. I believe that in four or five years, we definitely will be there. I can see the progress in the last two or three years, and I believe that it will be the same for the next years as well.
For myself, I just want to be in a position to be part of it. I really believe in this area. I truly enjoy being with these amazing entrepreneurs and also with smart real estate guys that know how to do business.
Michael Matias, Forbes 30 Under 30, is a Venture Fellow at Innovation Endeavors as well as investment Venture Partner at Secret Chord and J-Ventures. He studies Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction at Stanford University, and was an engineer at Hippo Insurance. Matias previously served as an officer in the 8200 unit. 20MinuteLeaders is a tech entrepreneurship interview series featuring one-on-one interviews with fascinating founders, innovators and thought leaders sharing their journeys and experiences.
Contributing editors: Michael Matias, Megan Ryan