Developer's Boardroom: A review by Richard Watson
Over the past few months I have had the privilege of speaking at two Developer’s Boardroom events on behalf of BidX1. For those who haven’t heard of the concept before, the meetings – either breakfast or supper – bring together SME developers, real estate professionals and investors through strategic connections, discussions and reflections. The events are the brainchild of Alex Harrington-Griffin and provide a platform for bringing together property professionals who are keen to positively shape the real estate industry.
As a general rule, numbers are kept to between 12 and 16 people and include 2 or 3 non-developers, such as myself, who provides industry insight and experience on a particular topic and opens the conversation over a meal.
The first event I attended as guest speaker was a supper held at a well-appointed pub in Marylebone; the perfect setting for a two-course meal and a lively debate. Greeting the guests, it was clear the attendees were all very experienced in the real estate field and everyone was keen to interact with and learn from one another. Once we were all settled around the table Duncan Gunn, from Gunn Associates who was chairing the evening, began the introductions with a relaxed and informative approach, inviting questions and allowing conversation to splinter off into different directions. It was fascinating to observe and learn about the innerworkings of businesses of all sizes.
Then it was my turn. I have spent over 18 years selling property across the United Kingdom, from 100-acre plots in Dunblane and former office blocks with permitted development through to small plots of land adjacent to existing housing. It was clear that the audience found the breadth of sales experience fascinating and I was duly quizzed about how the market was at present, who is selling and buying and what types of assets are being sold.
Needless to say, the audience were interested to learn more about BidX1 and the world of digital auctions. There were questions about the history behind the company and why we have moved from the traditional world of ballroom auctions to a digital, transparent online trading platform. The conversation lasted for the entirety of the main course and whilst, admittedly, I was slightly weary after answering so many good questions, I was equally invigorated. Why you may ask? Well everyone who was sat around the table could see exactly why the team at BidX1 had chosen the path of digital auctions and why we have such a strong belief in our digital platform. Indeed, some of my fellow diners had schemes they wanted to discuss selling off plan, others with a couple of units left within larger schemes that they needed to exit quickly in order to create new developments. Others wanted to use us as a closing platform in order to generate urgency and push transactions over the line; not an easy thing to do in this market. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with the positive response to our digital platform.
The evening continued in much the same way; engaging conversation with all in attendance keen to learn what they could from other industry professionals. The next few days were spent following up with those I had met and the opportunities that had arisen.
I was delighted when I was invited to speak again at an early morning discussion in Victoria, this time hosted by property developer and investor Richard Wombwell. Breakfast brought with it a different mindset (certainly the lack of wine was one!) and a different location attracted different attendees. A similar format to the supper unfolded and guests were keen to learn more about the BidX1 set up in the UK. Eyebrows were raised when I explained how the team consisted of 24 people and that our surveyors have over 280 years of combined industry experience. Some developers were keen to find out more about the BidX1 international footprint in South Africa, Cyprus and Spain and how they could get a front foot when seeking overseas opportunities through online auctions. A method they hadn’t considered before.
I would like to thank Alex, Duncan, Richard and the team behind the Developer's Boardroom events for the opportunity. The conversations on both occasions were fascinating and furnished me with information I would never have received from reading articles. Combined with experienced and enthusiastic in-the-market people who are open to learning new approaches from others, who could ask for more.