The Okast: Data, The New CRE Frontier with Michael Mandel, Compstak
For the third episode of The Okast, Okapi AI’s podcast, we were very happy to virtually sit down with Michael Mandel, Co-founder and CEO of Compstak, for a fascinating conversation on building trust between Real estate and startups, the early days of PropTech, collaborations as a fuel for innovation, the impact of COVID and the vaccine on CRE and so much more.
On The Early Days of PropTech
“Overcoming the fact that people weren’t interested in real estate tech and trying to make them be interested, trying to explain why it’s compelling. Viewing the fact that no one knew anything about the industry or have an interest in the industry as an opportunity. And the reason I say it’s an opportunity is because I felt like “Okay, you don’t have a preconceived notion here – you don’t know what success looks like in this industry. I’m going to tell you what success looks like, and i’m going to tell you that we’re really successful”, and paint the picture and and try to tell the story the right way so people excited. -That’s really amazing. So you were really able to kind of take that challenge and just say, okay so we will define this ecosystem. Ultimately. Yes.”
On How Compstak Initially Started
“As a broker I was sharing information with other brokers all the time, particularly lease comps, detailed records of commercial lease transactions. We would share comps with each other over the phone and via email and then we have our weekly Monday morning meeting within my firm, which all the all the firms in New York do, where we would all sit around the big boardroom table and mostly talk about comps. I was expected to bring comps to to the meeting, and in order to do that, I’d have to trade with other brokers in the market. So I frantically call up brokerage firms on Sunday night, trying to get whatever comps they have and sharing with them what I have so that iI have this currency to bring to the meeting Monday morning. These meetings would take hours every week, and mostly people are just talking about random deals in the market and oftentimes it was whatever the sexiest deals were in the market: The big hedge fund deals, law firm deals, financials… I primarily was doing tech deals and creative deals, so most of what was being talked about wasn’t relevant to me. The thought really was we’re all sharing this information but there’s no comprehensive database where you can find what you need when you need it. You just share random information for information and then when you actually need it – it’s hard to find. How do we take this offline process of people sharing comps and move it online so that you can actually find what you need?”
On What Startups and Real Estate Firms Can Learn From Each Other
“The real estate world is about optimizing relationships and the tech world’s about optimizing processes. And U think that you need a healthy amount of both. I think that I could have been a much more successful broker if I was much more process-oriented and check my leads better, track by conversion rates and considered what was working, what wasn’t that efficient. And I think that if I have to give feedback to our sales people on our team. today, it might be the opposite. I might be giving them feedback from the world of brokerage, which is to say just pick up the phone. Make more calls. Build a personal relationship with someone. They didn’t answer your email? Call them up your visit their office in say you know you wanna chat with them like you know. There’s a healthy element of both. I think we can all learn from.”
Read more about our podcast guest:
Michael is a co-founder and the CEO of CompStak. CompStak creates transparency in commercial real estate by gathering information that is hard to find, difficult to compile, or otherwise unavailable. The world’s largest brokerage firms and most preeminent real estate investors use CompStak’s commercial real estate data to compare properties and make investment decisions.
Since launching CompStak in early 2012, Michael has helped navigate the company through tremendous growth, with over $30 million raised, hundreds of markets launched, and a 100-person team. He has been named 30 Under 30 by Real Estate New York, and a Rising Star by The Real Deal.
Michael is a regular speaker on the future of commercial real estate, real estate technology, and data transparency. His speaking engagements include talks for the Urban Land Institute, the CCIM Institute, NAIOP, the Wharton school, Columbia University, New York University, Yeshiva University, Drexel University, MIT and Babson College. Michael has also appeared on Fox Business and National Public Radio, and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek and other notable publications.
Before starting CompStak, Michael led the NY metro data center practice for Grubb & Ellis, where he was named National Rookie of the Year. He graduated Babson College in 2005, where he led the Babson Entrepreneurial Exchange and was a member of the world’s first live-in business incubator, the e-tower. Michael is also a proud alum of the 500 Startups accelerator in Mountain View, California.