Cracking the secret to portfolio growth

Cracking the secret to portfolio growth

As part of a recent industry survey, the team at WeconnectU confirmed what we had suspected for some time. The biggest goal and the biggest fear rental property managers have for the future are the same thing: portfolio growth.

While business owners are universally eager to tap into exploding market opportunities, they also have strong reservations over their capacity to handle more units. Maintaining service delivery, client satisfaction and staff retention under increasing workloads are key concerns.

Is it even possible to grow a portfolio in today’s climate without overheads overwhelming any extra profits? According to WeconnectU Director, Schalk van der Merwe, it’s easier than you might think when you know how.

“One of the primary reasons we started WeconnectU was to help property management businesses overcome the challenges that were holding them back from sustainable growth,” he says. “Over years of working with hundreds of clients, and refining our software solutions into the end-to-end ecosystem we have today, we’ve been able to unpack exactly where things are going wrong – and how to fix them.”

The self-imposed growth ceiling

The root of this particular problem, according to Van der Merwe, is that the traditional rental management business model is inherently biased against sustainable growth.

“The most obvious example is having rental managers do everything from mandate acquisition to maintenance and financials’’ he says. “That’s a massive workload, putting a very effective ceiling on the number of units each manager — and therefore the business — can handle. Portfolio growth under these circumstances either means pushing your managers beyond realistic limits, which isn’t sustainable, or taking on additional staff and growing your overheads right alongside your profits.”

Typical remuneration structures, which incentivise managers (through commission) to maximise the number of units they manage, only exacerbate the problem.

“There are only so many balls one person can juggle before it all comes crashing down,” says Van der Merwe. “Pushing managers to bite off more than they can chew in order to maximise their earning potential just leads to poor service delivery and burnout. Neither of those is conducive to sustainable growth.”

The structure of success

According to Van der Merwe, breaking through the growth ceiling means restructuring the business model that capped that growth to begin with.

“It’s time to break away from the old-school, high-risk, high-stress and low growth model,” he says.

Instead, he proposes a business structure that has already helped many forward-thinking rental management businesses achieve a sustainable upwards growth trajectory. A structure that spreads the workload across multiple specialists, with scalable workflows, instead of resting entirely on the rental manager’s shoulders.

“Essentially, we’re looking at a business model that divides the rental manager’s role into two departments — front office and back office,” Van der Merwe explains. “Front office is the Rental Manager, but instead of doing it all these managers focus purely on unit acquisition or portfolio growth. The back office is where the rest of the magic happens, shared between an Accounts Manager, Investor Relationship Manager, Maintenance Manager and General Admin/Tenant Liaison.”

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Divide and conquer

According to Van der Merwe, this strategic division of labour enables each specialist to concentrate on their particular area of expertise. This creates a calmer, more focussed work environment with lower stress, higher morale and betterjob satisfaction

Supported by the right collaborative tools and workflows, this setup is also infinitely more scalable than the traditional “Jack of All Trades” model – not to mention more manageable, with better visibility, accountability and oversight

Clients, too, are kept happier with an Investor Relationship Manager able to focus on keeping their needs met and their asset performant. No more searching for insight in opaque property reports when you have a personal advisor on call

READ MORE: The present & future of PropTech

“There’s a lot more to it, but ultimately, this model works because it streamlines the journey from lead, to mandate, to successful investment,” says Van der Merwe. “It creates a strong and scalable foundation that supports a better experience for investors, for staff and for business owners. That makes growth not only dramatically easier to achieve, but also to sustain. Is if different? Sure. But in order to get better, first things have to change.”

Source: WeconnectU

READ MORE: Technological advances are reshaping the construction industry

READ MORE: How digital services help deliver exceptional building performance

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Technological advances are reshaping the construction industry

Technological advances are reshaping the construction industry

Digital construction has been on the horizon in South Africa for quite some time. The COVID-19 pandemic has produced a new way of working, and new possibilities have emerged offering opportunities to transform construction processes.

Digital technology trends are revolutionising the construction landscape. This technical revolution means we need to think about the future and the way in which we design, build and manage buildings.

We need a clear and well-coordinated strategy to support digital transformation and adoption to increase revenue and reduce costs. Given the importance of this sector to the economy of our country, there needs to be an overhaul of methods and ways of executing activities in the industry. Many stakeholders are advocating for this transformation but right now we’re working in silos.  We need to start collaborating to make it a reality.

The world is experiencing one of the most transformational phases in human history, and the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) presents an opportunity to search for new ways to eliminate many of the inefficiencies and problems associated with the construction process.

The world is experiencing one of the most transformational phases in human history, and the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) presents an opportunity to search for new ways to eliminate many of the inefficiencies and problems associated with the construction process.

New digital technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) have made it possible for projects to be built virtually before they are even constructed physically, thus increasing the competitiveness of the construction sector. Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies are paving the way for digital transformation. IoT allows construction machinery, equipment and structures to be connected to the web for remote operation, thus enhancing workplace safety, for example. Using video game technology, construction professionals are now able to operate Augmented Reality (AR) wearables and drones to access data and make quicker and better-informed decisions while building better and wasting less.

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The threat of climate change 

According to the World Economic Forum, buildings and construction account for 38% of worldwide carbon emissions. This means that we cannot solve the climate change problem without transforming the construction and building industry. This challenge also presents an opportunity to leverage technology and improve efficiency and sustainability.

Customer expectation is also one of the factors driving digitisation in the industry. Environmental issues have become more important as customers are becoming increasingly concerned with the wellbeing of the environment.

Innovative new Green construction technologies such as self-healing concrete are expected to bring the industry a step closer to its more efficient and lower-carbon future. Currently, the global output of concrete accounts for 8% of the world’s carbon emissions, according to the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

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It is estimated that 1.3 million people move into cities every day. By 2040, an estimated 65% of the world’s population will be living in cities. This pace of urbanisation requires significant investment in infrastructure and housing to accommodate regional population shifts, highlighting the need for urban sustainability.

Construction and the built environment deliver a huge amount of waste to the world — therefore choices made about how cities are built, inhabited and maintained will have long-term global impact on the environment. This is one of the reasons why many city governments are working on smart city initiatives.

Digital technologies can help governments become resilient to the effects of climate change and contribute to economic growth. Compact cities, with well-designed services and infrastructure, reduce the cost of energy provision, transport, and other services that businesses need. This, in turn, increases productivity and efficiency, and encourages private investment for economic growth.

Disruption has become the new normal. As imagination becomes innovation, we need efforts from industry stakeholders, professional bodies and government agencies to drive the much-needed collaboration between architects, quantity surveyors, builders and engineers. We need to work together across the various sectors to drive change and create the future we want.

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READ MORE: PropTech venture funding breaks real estate tech industry record

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PropTech venture funding breaks real estate tech industry record

PropTech venture funding breaks real estate tech industry record

Venture Capitalists pile into proptech startups in the face of global market uncertainty The startup space is bucking the wider market’s downward trend, with investors seeking security in investing in companies that will shine brighter, faster, once the market turns. The
agility and flexibility of well-structured startups offer investors the opportunity to invest in development opportunities that can be rolled out to solve for the needs of consumers and businesses, rather than pouring money into companies that will simply return to their established ways of working when the market turns.

“Proptech is one of the fastest-growing spaces in South African tech right now, because consumers are using the online space to meet more of their needs – and an essential like property is a huge one”. In Africa, the value of the startup space is set to exceed $7 billion and while 60% of that is attributed to fintech, proptech is gaining momentum as an investment space to watch. Global investment in proptech topped $32 billion in 2021, up 28% from a dire, COVID-hit 2020 and 3.23% up from 2019, according to the Center for Real Estate Technology & Innovation’s

2021 Real Estate Tech Venture Funding Report. “Proptech is democratising an industry that covers one of humanity’s essential needs – everyone needs a roof over their heads,” says Flow Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Gil Sperling. “The real estate industry was being left behind in the world of online transactions because of their complex and expensive nature – it’s a massively-fragmented space”.

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Because of Flow, 10 million of the 26 million South Africans who spend upwards of four hours a day on social media platforms have seen ads for properties in the areas they’re searching and in the price bracket they can afford, opening up the market and bringing the
property industry into the 21st Century.

“The online audience in South Africa has grown immensely over the last two years – out of necessity – so brands have been working hard to meet consumers online and make them more comfortable with transacting there,” says Daniel Levy, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of

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Sperling says that if Flow is a barometer of the growth of adoption of proptech in SA, things are looking bright. “We’re seeing 30% month-on-month growth, with a 10x growth in property-related social spend over the last 12 months,” he says. “Those are the kind of numbers that make investors take notice of a sector”.

Metaprop’s Year-End 2021 Global Proptech Confidence Index showed that 71% of investors expect to make more proptech investments over the next 12 months, up from 54% six months ago. 49% of proptech funding went to residential tech, with just 7.6% of that investment focusing on commercial owners and tenants.


READ MORE: The present & future of PropTech

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How digital services help deliver exceptional building performance

How digital services help deliver exceptional building performance

Although there are varying opinions about the strategies building owners and managers should employ to recover from the effects of the pandemic, its structural effects, and resulting economic disruption, “business as usual” shouldn’t be part of the plan.

According to Mark Freeman, Offer Manager – Digital Buildings, Schneider Electric South Africa, there has been a sea change in occupant expectations with regards to indoor air quality (IAQ), and facilities should take measures to create a safe interior environment.

Unlocking building performance through smart, connected technology

Studies have repeatedly validated that successful efficiency initiatives increase building asset values, reduce operating costs, and boost occupant satisfaction.

For HVAC systems, reports say:

  • More than 55% of maintenance tasks are not condition-based.
  • 40% of occupants are unsatisfied with their comfort levels.
  • Over 80% of equipment fails prematurely, resulting in substantial avoidable costs.

Today’s building systems need to perform optimally and within the parameters of minimal budget and maintenance resources.

EcoStruxure Building Advisor is a versatile and proven suite of analytics driven services that leverages best-in-class Digital Twin technology. It can be deployed at a single site or benchmark performance across a global portfolio of properties, regardless of the building management system.

Over the last three years, the advanced cloud-based platform has continuously optimised systems in multiple building classes, with data points analysed from over 200,000 HVAC equipment. It has automated over 250,000 hours of maintenance tasks and identified 25,000 IAQ-related equipment issues.

High-performance buildings are sustainable and productive

EcoStruxure Building Advisor’s advanced capabilities deliver enhanced building performance and tenant peace of mind benefits in four ways:

Hyper efficient – maximise performance by optimising systems and workflows:

  • Diagnose HVAC issues that contribute to excess energy usage and avoidable costs.
  • Leverage automation to service a more extensive portfolio, doing more with the same service team.
  • Reduce time and effort; improve troubleshooting accuracy using a digital twin for automated fault detection (FDD) and diagnosis of complex HVAC systems.

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Resilient – quicker recovery from disruptions:

  • Manage sites remotely with a team of experts, avoid costly in-person visits, and improve response times.
  • Prevent critical asset failure and disruptions with condition-based monitoring and diagnosis.
  • Manage critical alarms, provide triage, and avoid disruptions.

Sustainable – consume less, extend asset life, and invest strategically:

  • Actively manage energy efficiency initiatives and evaluate progress to sustainability goals.
  •              Extend the useful life of assets and protect capital investments.
  • Benchmark performance from similar sites and rationalise modernisation.

People-centric – provide a comfortable, productive, and healthy setting for occupants.

  • Manage indoor air quality to deliver comfortable environments.
  • Empower diverse facility teams to make the right decisions for their departments.
  • Reduce on-site engineers by using remote experts.

Achieving sustainability, hyper-efficiency, and active IAQ management while ensuring quick problem response and streamlining maintenance with smaller teams is impossible without proptech solutions like EcoStruxure Building Advisor

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Is your company ready for the Metaverse?

Is your company ready for the Metaverse?

It’s not virtual anymore – the metaverse is fast becoming a business reality for some of the biggest companies in the world. Global revenue in the metaverse was nearly $500 billion in 2020 and is estimated to top $800 billion in 2024.

Most of this revenue is derived from real estate sales on the four biggest metaverse platforms – Sandbox, Decentraland, Cryptovoxels and Somnium – as companies, brands and investors speculate on the next digital London, Paris, Manhattan or Monaco.

So if you’re asking if you or your company is ready for the metaverse, the good news is that you’re fashionably late to the party. 

Neale Petersen, who was one of South Africa’s early adopters of this new digital platform when his company, REI, hosted an industry-first Digitalisation ‘Proptech’ Summit in the metaverse last year, believes that it is important for companies to have their own private metaverse to engage with staff, partners, clients and other stakeholders.

“Obviously companies want to tap into the potential benefits of the Metaverse, but at the same time they can’t risk making everything accessible to everyone”, says Petersen. “Although the big four metaverse platforms offer publicly accessible virtual worlds, Organisations often need a more focused subset of virtual experiences aimed at helping employees, clients and the public engage in a secure, curated platform.”

“We developed Metaverse Spaces in conjunction with South African based tech developers Y-Dangle to offer any company a commercial platform to create their own metaverse, enabling them to showcase their products, host their partners and clients for meetings, events and networking gatherings in an interactive 3D metaverse space,” says Peterson.

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“Metaverse Spaces is a wonderful platform where you can engage with the public, but it also can offer virtual experiences to everyone within a company, ranging from the very first virtual job interview, virtual onboarding and training to daily virtual meetings, design reviews,troubleshooting and so on.”

“Some people think you need an  expensive AR headset with google to visit the metaverse but that’s not the case at all – you just need a decent computer and a headset,” says Peterson. “Although virtual reality has been around for a while, only fairly recently have we had the necessary tech developments to ensure it can run an interactive metaverse smoothly on most modern computers.”

“We have helped local companies such as Greater Tygerberg Partnership, MRI Software and IWG host their own event in the Metaverse Space and have catered for nearly 1000 digital guests at a time.”

READ MORE: How to enter the Metaverse era

A decade ago, it was social media that changed the nature of how millions of us interact and do business on a daily basis. The metaverse is the next step in the digital evolution and we are only beginning to understand and explore some of the important roles it will play in the future of business and the ways of working.

For more information on how to create and host your own commercial platform in the metaverse space, please contact or click here for a demo

Reference: Bloomberg

READ MORE: REI launches the first ever commercial platform to host your own Metaverse

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Leading PropTech company wins big at AfricArena Awards

Leading PropTech company wins big at AfricArena Awards

South African proptech leader Flow has won the Best Late-Stage Startup award at the 2022 AfricArena Summit, held in Johannesburg last week.

The summit was a side event to the South African President Investment Conference and supported by the Technology Innovation Agency and VC firm Edge Growth. Over 140 in-person attendees and more than 1 000 virtual viewers joined more than 60 high-level investors at the summit as it sought out Africa’s best disruptors, across a variety of industries.

The event saw 21 startups from across Southern Africa come together to learn, network, and showcase their innovative Ideas to the AfricArena ecosystem of investors, incubators and accelerators.

“Winning an award like this in a talented pool of amazing startups shows that we’re on the right track,” says Flow Co-CEO & Co-Founder, Daniel Levy. “We know that we’re making a difference in the proptech sector in South Africa – and beyond – and it’s encouraging to see that other people understand the amazing value we’ve unlocked for the property industry, buyers and sellers”.

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The five winners, including Flow, qualified for the AfricArena Grand Summit in Cape Town in November 2022.

“It’s at events like AfricArena that you get to lift your head up from the entrepreneurial trenches and get the validation for you and your team that the business you’re working hard on is having an asymmetrical impact on something so meaningful to all of us – finding and buying our homes,” says Flow Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Gil Sperling.

AfricArena, which has established itself as a leading ecosystem accelerator and deal flow platform across Africa has since its inception in 2017, has built a platform dedicated to supporting the creation of market access and investment opportunities for its ever-increasing community of founders, angels, corporates and VC investors.

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