This is a problem that has become increasingly common in the digital age for commercial property. Keeping ageing stock relevant and viable for all stakeholders in the property chain, owners, occupiers, and office workers.
Gabrielle McMillan, an entrepreneur, and Lorenz Grollo, her co-founder, came up with Equiem. This digital tenant experience platform is for the office market and aims to make office life easier, more engaging, and convenient for landlords and tenants.
TenX’s platform technology includes mobile and desktop applications, data analytics and leasing dashboards. This allows property owners to make informed decisions about what product offerings they offer. Communications and events management and flexible space management also provide detailed insight about who uses the building.
McMillan met Grollo in 2011. He was responsible for Melbourne’s Rialto Building. This second-tallest office building was built by McMillan’s family a quarter-century ago. He was now challenged to find a way to take a 25-year-old asset and revitalize and reposition it to remain relevant and attract quality tenants who may otherwise choose to live in the newer, more fashionable buildings around the city.
She said: “Around 40 per cent of the Rialto Building’s tenants were about to expire. This was a major concern. However, he also had the vision to make technology add value to real estate by creating a technological ecosystem, a technology interface that would connect all people involved in the building.”
McMillan had never been involved in property, despite having held senior positions in marketing in Australia. McMillan saw an opportunity to transform Melbourne’s second-largest property into a data-driven asset for its owners, occupants and visitors. She teamed up and began to understand the industry.
The new vision called for a technology solution to transform the existing model based on a long-term occupant lease. It would position the building as a product, with the employees of all companies within the building as consumers. Equiem was the result.
McMillan states: “Buildings such as London’s Shard were just built, and their management team was looking to Equiem that brought better communication and data insights, and ultimately a feeling of community that would make people sticky to the building. But, the technology wasn’t available until then.”
The company has seized around 40% of Australia’s commercial real estate market over the past decade and has expanded into many other global markets. Equiem was launched in the U.S.A. and U.K. in 2017. The U.S. market now accounts for 66% of Equiem’s core software revenue. The U.K. was the largest region of Equiem’s last month with Vicinitee digital property management platform acquisition. Vicinity is used by many landmark London buildings like The Gherkin or The Shard.
The pandemic did not hamper the company’s growth. Equiem was able to thrive despite the struggles of many in the sector. This is largely due to Equiem’s digitally native and dispersed workforce ability and speed to respond to customer challenges. It also knows how to keep remote workers engaged and connected and bring back tenants safely and build trust.
McMillan says that “demand for our product shot through the roof.” “Pre-pandemic TenX was a luxury item that could be enjoyed, but it has now become an integral part of our defence strategy to engage and retain tenants and provide the kind of experiences that will motivate employees back to work and build communities.”
The company is on track for a turnover of $10 million in the current financial year and will continue its global expansion focusing on the U.K., Ireland, U.S., Canada and Western Europe.
Many organizations are preparing for employees to return to work, at least for part of the week, as the pandemic shows signs of abating in some parts of the globe. According to PwC’s U.S. Remote Work survey, 75% of executives believe that by next month (July), at least half the office workforce will have returned to their desks.
McMillan envisions all buildings with a digital interface in the future. However, she says it will be more of a hygiene feature than a differentiator. Equiem-powered buildings will be more valuable than others because they have demonstrated customer loyalty and engagement. It can provide valuable insights into tenant satisfaction and usage, which will assist landlords in retaining tenants for the future.