In the world of Technology Start-Ups, a significant market gap maybe viewed as an unsolvable problem that becomes an accepted given for decades, until suddenly and surprisingly, a unique solution surfaces to address the problem and changes everything. That is the moment we are in for Commercial Real Estate.
Commercial Real Estate (CRE), like many other industries, has operated successfully, in a frac-tured and complex ecosystem consisting of vast amounts of data, program functionality, and teams. The teams include numerous operating personas, each with a different focus and analyt-ic requirements for the same data sets. These professionals may work for multiple companies, all focused on a wide variety of property types at different stages of development and located in market areas, all over the world. This fractured condition results in many layers of inefficien-cy, especially in the ‘Last Mile’ of activity, where data is converted to relevant analytics and in-sights that drive decisions and performance at every stage of the Commercial Real Estate life cycle. If that sounds complex, it is. Perhaps that’s why the problem, although recognized for years, has gone unaddressed until now.
Solving the problem of a fractured industry was the opportunity recognized by Taylor Odegard, Russ Johnson and Brett Hartzell, the Founders of NavigatorCRE. Odegard and Johnson are full time operationally with Navigator, while Hartzell remains in his capacity as an Executive VP and 40-year veteran at CBRE, global capital markets group. Odegard is nationally recognized as a pioneer in real estate technology innovation, Johnson brings a rich 30 years of experience in-cluding 20 years with CBRE as a market leader in corporate services and in his former capacity as SVP and co-founder of CBRE’s Corporate Finance Group and then 10 years as an entrepre-neur/investor.
Together, the founders recognized that CRE firms were desperate for a software solution that could bring data, analytics, teams and program functionality onto a single operating platform to streamline decision making associated with Commercial Real Estate of all types. However, most platforms available on the market were singularly focused on a broad array of point solutions like data aggregation, CRM, demographics, building efficiency solutions (IOS), lease administration, project management, geocoding, electronic signatures, cloud-based document sharing, E-signature, etc. The list of great point solutions is extensive, numbering in the hundreds, if not thousands. The genius of NavigatorCRE is that it does not exist to replace these solutions, but rather to integrate and align them on a single operating platform. In short, “NavigatorCRE seeks to complete, not compete”, a novel distinction that drives huge ROI for clients in the form of cost savings and efficiency. These efficiencies translate into market share, competitive advantage, performance, and growth for owners, occupiers and advisors of commercial real estate properties of all types; in an ecosystem that contains asset values approaching $100 Trillion.
Navigator seems to have achieved traction so far. Since its inception in 2015, NavigatorCRE has onboarded data associated with over 12 Billion SF of institutional property portfolios including Office, Industrial, Retail, Hospitality, Ground Leases and Corporate Occupant Properties.
An unusual aspect of the NavigatorCRE platform is that it is agnostic to property type, geogra-phy, data source, corporate affiliation and program systems. As such, companies do not have to abandon the programs they currently use in order to adopt NavigatorCRE. This reduces the rol-lout timeline to weeks, not the norm of months or even years; and, increases the user adoption since people don’t have to re-learn new programs. The speed of onboarding also results in large-scale cost savings compared to the alternatives of building whole new systems in-house and / or trying to cobble together a vast array of non-integrated program functionality.
The market is just becoming aware of the opportunity to use NavigatorCRE as a central reposi-tory for data and systems aggregation in support of teams around the world. As such, Odegard and Johnson began expanding their team last year, starting with the addition of Kevin Shtofma-nas Chief Operating Officer to help scale the company—as a cutting-edge platform, built ground up by CRE professionals for CRE professionals. Kevin is a leading industry veteran, formerly the Director of Global Corporate Real Estate Technology and Blockchain for Deloitte. He brings 16 years of experience in real estate technology and implementation, as well as managed and corporate services. As one might imagine, the combined hands-on subject matter expertise curating the NavigatorCRE platform is raising some eyebrows!
NavigatorCRE—The Commercial Real Estate Data Hub
NavigatorCRE is underpinned by a first-of-a-kind US patent, enabling the rapid ingest and ani-mation of structured and unstructured data. As opposed to most legacy solutions that impose a particular governance standard or data model on clients, NavigatorCRE uses its proprietary technology to adapt its platform to each client’s unique data model. “We utilize a lean ingestion compression algorithm to get our clients’ data into our system rapidly, and once we receive the data, every field becomes filterable and searchable,” adds Odegard. When the data is ingested into the NavigatorCRE system, the duplicates are eliminated using data validation algorithms; then, certain fields are combined as per client-driven rules to represent the data on dashboards in an appealing visual format. Shtofman adds, "The first time I saw this, I was in disbelief. I had been trained to think that implementations and integrations take months, if not years, and mil-lions of dollars at our enterprise clients. Now we get this done in two weeks while retaining ac-curacy. It is truly amazing to watch.”
The net outcome of this innovation is: “Return On Speed (ROS™),” a term coined by Shtofman and trademarked by Navigator, referring to the exceptional value of solving inefficiencies asso-ciated with the “last mile of data”. With NavigatorCRE, what would normally take weeks of analyst time, occurs instantaneously in live-digital animation. As commercial Real Estate has become increasingly data driven and institutionalized, margins have been compressed and competition has intensified. As such, more and more professionals have come to realize that speed and accuracy are key drivers of competitive advantage. In the past, speed has been a trade off against accuracy. With NavigatorCRE, speed and accuracy are no longer mutually exclusive.
“I had been trained to think that implementations and integrations take months, if not years, and millions of dollars at our enterprise clients. Now we get this done in two weeks while re-taining accuracy. It is truly amazing to watch”
“NavigatorCRE seeks to complete, not compete, a novel distinction."
The NavigatorCRE platform ingests data from other applications, such as property management tools, acquisitions pipeline tools, leasing tools, and CRMs, among others, by using APIs and scheduled reports. Users no longer lose the context of their work process caused by jumping in and out of programs throughout the day. This efficiency is enabled by Navigator’s ability to open applications in the context of any property, data source or system. For instance, “When a user clicks on any quicklink icon embedded in a snapshot card, the system will dynamically link the users to their technology stack without losing the context of their workflow,” notes Shtofman. In essence, NavigatorCRE serves as the central fulcrum that clients can use to pivot around their portfolio, properties, or leases and other relevant information at just the touch of a button on desktop, mobile, or tablet.
Meticulous Attention to Clients’ Needs
NavigatorCRE is driven by its mission “to be integral to clients’ success”. The company also swears by a set of values—Respect, Listen, Commit and Deliver—which are essential to sustain innovation and growth in the context to accelerating change. Johnson emphasizes, “These val-ues are as important to us as any other part of our strategy or technology.” To foster a culture of trust and knowledge, the leadership at NavigatorCRE also trains their teams on the nuances of the real estate, industry best practices, data management, security, and more.
NavigatorCRE begins client engagements with an assessment to gain understanding of how they process workflows from strategic planning to business development, acquisitions, project man-agement, marketing, Performance/Reporting, to final dispositions. The team delves deeper into clients’ database functionality to understand their technology stack, data governance practices and use cases. In effect, working intimately with clients’ business and IT teams to assure rapid deployment and full adoption. Odegard clarifies, “We wrap the platform with our client’s brand both in terms of style and terminology and provide them with a free 45-day pilot period, at the end of which all of their data is uploaded into their private domain ready to use.”
Powering Collaboration and Complete Security
NavigatorCRE ensures that every member at the client organization, from executives, to pro-ducers, researchers, analysts, and marketers can draw from a single source of truth, yet see the specific business intelligence that enables them to be most productive in their respective area of focus. Johnson mentions that sometimes, the fragmented conditions described in the larger CRE ecosystem can exist within companies between multiple departments. As such, collaborat-ing and sharing a single platform represents a high value opportunity where alignment is possi-ble without having to learn each other’s systems or analytic framework.
It is reassuring to know that clients never lose ownership or control of their data. Navigator is not a data provider and does not aggregate, share or sell client data. NavigatorCRE is highly focused on data privacy and security, ensuring advanced administrative controls and permissions in respect to team parameters for visibility and Read/Write privileges; as well as integrating state-of the art encryption of both data at rest and motion while transitioning from clients’ systems to its platform. The company provides a two-factor authentication model, biometrics or visual security, and performs nightly backups of the platform.
NavigatorCRE has earned trust and recognition among some of the largest institutional owners, advisors and occupants across the main commercial property segments of Industrial, Office, Retail, Multifamily and Hospitality. The path ahead is one that will be marked by continued in-novation driven by ongoing customer requirements involving AI, predictive analytics and iOS integration. As the critical mass of institutional clients grows, Navigator will continue to build its partnership network to serve a scaling community that enables teams to team with teams and become a truly transformative industry platform that empowers “networks to network with networks.”
“Driven by the mission to become integral to clients’ success, NavigatorCRE swears by a set of values—Respect, Listen, Commit and Deliver—to fuel sustained innovation and growth.”