Johnny Horgan, Managing Director, BidX1 Europe
Tell us a little bit about you.
My name is Johnny Horgan and I’m the Managing Director for Europe here at BidX1. I’m originally from Cork but I’ve been living in Dublin for more than 20 years. I live with my wife Breffni, who is also from Cork, and our two children Chloe and Zach, who are very much Dublin babies! We’ve recently welcomed a new addition to the family, a Cockapoo called Bailey.
Tell us a little bit about your career prior to joining BidX1.
I did a Commerce degree in University College Cork, and my working life has been spent in Finance and Property. My first role was with NCB Stockbrokers in Dublin, and I stayed there for 9 years, a period which laid the foundations for the rest of my career.
A lot of people take time after school or college to travel and mess around, but I had dived straight into work immediately after my graduation – we’re talking a couple of weeks – and I did start to feel restless after almost a decade in stockbroking. I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to have regrets, so I took off for a year around the world. South America, Australia, Africa; I spent three months on a truck, travelling from Cape Town to Nairobi, bumping along dusty roads with incredible views.
When I returned to Ireland, slightly less pale and with bleached blonde hair, I was lucky enough to meet my wife Breffni in West Cork, and she agreed to move to Dublin with me. My next move was the establishment of Warren Private, a private equity firm that focused on acquisitions and property management for European, Irish and UK assets.
I then became Head of Property at Irish Life Investment Managers… so I have experience at both ends of the scale; setting up a business from scratch and working at a corporate behemoth! In fact, both positions allowed me to gain significant experience with the UK and European property markets, which is key for my role now.
After that, I became Head of Capital Markets at CBRE, where I stayed for five years, before I joined BidX1 in early 2019.
Why did you want to work for BidX1?
I fundamentally believe that technology has only scratched the surface of the real estate industry to this point. Property remains one of the last bastions of traditionalism; very little has changed, and what change we have seen has been too slow.
Do you want to hop on the train or get off the tracks? ...That’s basically what it comes down to! BidX1 is at the forefront of change in the industry, and I’m incredibly excited to be a part of that.
In terms of my own experience, with over two decades in the real estate industry, I know I can add value here. BidX1 is a high-growth business, we’ve entered two new markets a year since 2018, and we’re moving fast.
What are some of the challenges you face in your work?
BidX1 has operations in a number of markets which means I have to travel a lot; that can be a challenge with a young family in Dublin.
What are some of the challenges facing the real estate industry?
How long have you got?! Something that is very much on the agenda for us right now is the lack of regulation on the advisory side in many European markets. Take Spain as an example: anyone can become a property agent, overnight, with zero professional qualifications or experience.
There are thousands of agents selling residential and commercial property who are not qualified to do so.
What are some of the trends you’re seeing in real estate at the moment?
It’s all about data. The ability to aggregate and interpret data is not only providing better insight to facilitate business decisions, but it also allows for smarter marketing.
Many firms have a lot of data, but they don’t manage it very well. Real estate companies which have developed their own in-house software and data capabilities are gaining an edge – they have combined the knowledge of real estate experts who understand client needs with bespoke technology tailored specifically to those needs.
By understanding the buying patterns within each market, asset marketing can be tailored depending on specific demographics and trends, meaning higher visibility, a wider potential pool of buyers and ultimately a faster sale at a potentially higher price.
What do you like most about working at BidX1?
The standards that we set ourselves are very high; my job is made easier by the fact that our people are self-driven. We’re challenging the norm and that isn’t always easy, but it’s a great motivator.
We’re always looking for better ways to do things, and new ways of looking at old problems. That comes from our Founder, Steve McCarthy. He’s a complete innovator, a challenger, and that runs through the whole company.
Most property firms are homogenous – filled with people who went to the same schools, did the same property courses in a handful of universities, and followed the same path through a small number of real estate firms. It’s incredible to see how BidX1 harnesses diversity to drive innovation. Let’s face it, it also makes things a lot more interesting!
Where do you want BidX1 to be in the next few years?
That’s an easy one: the largest digital property marketplace in Europe.
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