We’re excited to welcome Andrew Jenkins to our leadership team as Chief Product Officer. Andrew will be leading our product, engineering and data science teams. Andrew joins Markerr from RealPage, where he led the Product & Engineering teams for Investment Management products. He joined RealPage via the acquisition of Investor Management Services, and has spent most of his career in the Commercial Real Estate industry.
We asked Andrew a few questions about what brought him to Markerr, the evolving role of data in the CRE space, and how to have a good time in his hometown of Charlotte, NC:
Why are you excited to join the team at Markerr?
I was very impressed by the seasoned leadership team, as well as the strategy and approach set forth in partnership with the real estate tech-focused investors, RET Ventures. For an early stage company, the team truly understands and embraces the importance of growing a product-led organization that addresses the unique opportunities available in the real estate industry.
The real estate market continues to be ripe for innovation, and the data leveraged to make critical real estate decisions continues to be controlled by a smaller and smaller set of players. This has ultimately stifled innovation and I truly think there is a significant opportunity available for solutions that have the capacity and desire to look at these problems from different perspectives and leverage the technology and data sources available today and in the future. Markerr is perfectly poised to fill this space and I can’t wait to get started with this great team of innovators.
What led you to the Commercial Real Estate field?
I got my start in commercial real estate very early in my career. After leaving a tech startup that was sold to TIBCO, I joined up with a team of real estate analysts looking to address the needs of decision-makers in the real estate market. In those days, collecting and analyzing the data necessary to make go-no-go decisions on developing, acquiring, or selling real estate assets would often take months with significant costs. Additionally, the analysis was often performed under an NDA and was never successfully leveraged for future use or monetized beyond the original study.
I immediately began looking for ways to leverage technology to address the problems and inefficiencies in data collection, analysis, and delivery. After acquiring the company with a partner, we set off on a mission to become the best online provider of commercial real estate software for market research and marketing in the Southeast U.S. We later sold this business to Xceligent as they attempted to fulfill a FTC mandate to rapidly expand their CRE research and marketing platforms across the largest markets in the US. I joined the leadership team there and ultimately ran the product development group as we sought to improve our customer solutions and our internal research tools.
Since then, I’ve led product development groups in the real estate investment management space for a Charlotte-based startup, IMS and the Richardson, Texas-based, RealPage, which acquired IMS in 2019. This provided me with a great opportunity to work with owners, investors, and operators on the other side of the real estate market and learn more about the problems they face as they manage not only their real estate asset portfolios but also their investors desire for greater investment transparency.
What are some of the biggest opportunities you see in terms of how CRE investors, owners and operators leverage data and analytics?
Getting timely and accurate data continues to be a significant opportunity for the commercial real estate market. There are so many assumptions that go into forecasting for any stage of the real estate life cycle, and the opportunity to get more of them correct will decide the winners and losers in the industry. Speed to decision-making is also key. There are substantial investment dollars coming into the real estate sector from international investors, private investors, and REITs, and all of them are looking for the highest yield they can achieve. Missing out on an opportunity can come at a significant cost — but of course, so can choosing the wrong opportunity.
In addition to speed and accuracy, there are two other big opportunities I see in terms of how data and analytics could be leveraged. The first is in consolidating disparate data sets for internal analysis. Operators often work across multiple markets, which can mean multiple data sources and types of data, as well as multiple property management vendors and datasources. Creating a normalized dataset, particularly for portfolio analysis, can be timely and complicated and often out of reach for SMB owners.
The other opportunity I see is how data and analytics can itself be better utilized within workflows critical to real estate investors, owners, and operators. Enriching these workflows with data and analysis has the potential to transform every interaction within the industry.
As a leader of product, engineering and data science teams, how have you seen the role of data in these orgs evolve over time?
About 20 years ago in CRE, data was viewed as something that should be closely held by key individuals and in many times the data was more qualitative in nature than quantitative. Many owners and operators in the industry didn’t see the benefit of data collection or analysis and it was often viewed as simply a box that needed to be checked when getting underwriting or municipal approval. The industry has slowly come to accept that much of the key data is a commodity that can be leveraged and shared more broadly, although there is still a fair amount of hesitancy here.
Leading firms in the industry have been at the forefront on truly embracing the value of data in all of their decision-making processes. This has allowed them to stay that much further ahead of their competitors, and I expect adoption in this area to only grow further. Additionally, technology itself, has finally begun to be truly embraced by the CRE industry. There are far fewer conversations about technology and data in the industry now that start with “do I really need it” and significantly more of them that begin with “where do I find the best solutions and sources of data.” I’m also seeing that peers in the industry are much more willing to seek out and share their experiences, best practices, and recommendations than ever before.
If we have a company retreat in your home city of Charlotte, NC, what are the must-see, do or eat attractions?
Charlotte has a wide variety of activities and attractions with no one key “must-see” event. Charlotte is small enough to feel comfortable, has an Uptown that feels like it was plucked from a block of Midtown Manhattan, and plenty of places to explore the outdoors. It’s perfectly placed between a 2.5 hour drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains and a 3.5 hour drive to the lovely beaches of North or South Carolina (I won’t get started on which beaches are better).
There are very few “native Charlotteans,” which means our sports teams tend to be everyone’s favorite second team, but the diversity of the region makes it a wonderful place to live and raise a family. Oh, and if you like to raise a glass, we have too many craft breweries to count and they all offer their own unique atmospheres. When in doubt, take yourself to the US National Whitewater Center off the Catawba River, where you can raft, climb, zip-line, kayak, mountain bike, or catch a music performance, all while sampling some of those great local craft beers.