There are some cool innovations in the world of proptech, but when six companies have to share £25,000 (in a competition administered by the University of Strathclyde), it’s pretty damning of their chances of developing anything of use.
It’s why I’ve been so impressed with Ed Mead and Marcus de Ferranti of Viewber: they’ve raised sufficient capital, recruited sufficient Viewbers, marketed to and secured sufficient customers, and have built the technology and hired the support staff to look and feel professional, and to operate in a professional manner.
In short, they have set themselves up to win.
To satisfy my curiosity, I quietly signed up as a Viewber.
It seemed fitting given my first-ever job in the world of property, as a weekend sales assistant.
Viewber recently sent a communication around saying that they would lower the minimum £20 payment for a viewing, if an agency provided a whole day’s worth of work.
And very quickly you can see how this simple service – on-demand people for the property industry – can expand.
Agencies now have two options: hire for one viewing or one day’s worth of viewings.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is too simple to be game-changing, but that is exactly why it is transformative for the industry: why would you ever put a notice on the door advertising for weekend sales assistants, when the people Viewber recruits are vetted, rated by other people and cheaper than hiring a weekend sales assistant?
This all speaks to the original vision of taking property professionals from an agency fixed cost to a variable cost. Why would you employ people to sit around all day when the better buyers and renters want to view in the evenings and on weekends?
I planned to tell you all about my experience as a Viewber – but there’s really not much to say: it just works.
It’s actually pretty amazing how fully functioning the technology is and how professional and speedy the support staff are.
Viewber didn’t even exist a year ago, yet today there are this many Viewbers
Apart from the one-person monopoly of Northern Ireland and the lack of a unique Viewber map-pin, the Viewber coverage is strong. I would presume usual network effects apply: as more people Viewber, more agents will sign up to try it out.
Viewber report that 45% of viewings are for high street agency customers each month, with Ed saying that auction and online agencies “were the first to recognise the benefits to them and take up the service”.
I had initially put this story off as Ed writes for EYE, but this is the most fundamental change the industry has seen since online listings gave agents a new advertising option.
Just as ‘the cloud’ has made it simple for anyone to get a website running, Viewber will make it so that there is an explosion of competition in professional property services.
Viewings are the tip of the iceberg that the good ship High Street Agency has been sailing into and scraping its sides against.
Right now Purplebricks needs to spend a lot of money recruiting, training and maintaining its pool of Local Property Experts – just like those website servers people needed before the cloud.
In the future, every agent will have a business that looks like Purplebricks – just without having to be a trailblazer and take the risks that Michael Bruce did. They also won’t get his rewards.
It puts into context the efforts that Countrywide, the Guild and others have made.
These former leaders of the industry have been spending a lot of time and money on trying to copy Bruce, yet here comes Viewber which makes this all simple and cost-effective.
Fitting, isn’t it? That the two innovative companies that followed the portal wars would be captained by Michael Bruce and Ed Mead – people you could rightly say are each “one of us”.
By the way, I conducted five viewings and I believe I have a five star rating. So if you need my professional services in the vicinity of SE25, head over to Viewber.