Gowling WLG has recently announced a joint venture with AI solutions developer, Avail. Can you share with us more insight on what this partnership involves?
It’s fantastic for Avail to have the support of an international firm. Having access to Gowling WLG’s team of real estate lawyers means that Avail can build products more closely focused on the day to day needs of property lawyers, road-testing new ideas and features far faster than it used to be able to. A big problem in the wider legaltech industry is that solutions tend to not actually address the problems lawyers are facing on the ground, built more around showcasing new tech. Gowling WLG’s support means that Avail’s platforms are robustly tested and proofed in a live client environment before they go to market.
Could you tell us what problem Avail is trying to solve? And how does it differ from other solutions out in the market?
Avail’s platform is focused around tackling low hanging fruit in the property due diligence process. It seeks to intelligently review key legal documents in the real estate transaction pipeline, speeding up the purchase/sale of assets and increasing the accuracy of legal advice provided to clients. Unlike other solutions, Avail provides a pre-trained AI, accuracy levels of over 95%, templated reports and is heavily design driven. The last point is actually the most important, as the founding principle of the entire platform is simplicity. All our reports can be generated within 15 seconds, giving lawyers more time to focus on advising their clients.
As an experienced commercial real estate lawyer with a background in high growth tech startups, what advice would you give to PropTech start-ups entering the market?
Remember your target market. Whichever type of real estate professional your solution seeks to help, ask yourself what problems your targets are facing and how you help to solve them. Position your business plan and marketing collateral in those terms, and you’ll already have a big advantage over other start-ups who don’t do this. I’d also advise building a close relationship with a group of reliable testers who are active in the field you’re selling into. Even if you have direct experience yourself in a particular market, robust testing and analysis with a range of users before you launch will prevent you from wasting limited seed capital. Consider the BETA testing phase of your start-up one of the most crucial, and one not to be rushed.
Lastly, where do you see the industry heading in the next 3-5 years?
It’s an exciting time for PropTech. The industry is beginning to mature. As property firms try to get to grips with an ever-expanding playing field, they will start to develop their own collections of ‘stacks’ of PropTech solutions that complement each other. CTOs will be more common in property companies, and with that will come more funding, investment and innovation. Most importantly the launch of 5G in the UK will bring a swathe of new ideas into the market, as the ‘smart city’ concept starts to be realised and new ways of monetising assets emerge.
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