“I’m currently reading Subscribed by Tien Tzuo,” says New York-born Maureen Waters President of Ten-X Commercial. She believes the subscription economy will be part of the 10 year-old global proptech platform’s future. Ten-X manages almost $53 billion dollars of commercial real estate transactions according to its website, and with just over a month as its new president, Waters wants to take it to the next level.
According to RE:Tech, a real estate tech research agency, the proptech industry received over $12 billion dollars of investments in 2017. And Waters is sure that with the growing investment in the industry, more opportunities will be available for women. As an advocate of the Nike slogan, “Just Do It”, Waters believes that her industry is ripe for women ready to build their own unique plan to get in. Just like she did.
Before heading Ten-X, Waters was head of real estate and asset management at Bill Gates Investments. Along with her over 25 years of experience in commercial real estate, including 15 years at Cushman & Wakefield, her experience at Gates paved her transition to leading one of the world’s largest proptech platforms.
Maryann Reid: What are some advantages about being one of the few women in proptech? How does it benefit you?
Maureen Waters: As one of the few female executives in this nascent industry, I have an opportunity to help shape its evolution with a focus on diversity and inclusion. Studies consistently reveal a correlation between businesses with diverse workforces and higher financial performance, which means that having more women in proptech – especially in the C-suite – would benefit everyone.
Reid: What advice do you have for women who want a career in proptech?
Waters: There are fewer inroads for women in commercial real estate and proptech so you have to be prepared to pave your own path. You have to make your own opportunities where you can. Understand the business and the industry, and what you bring to the table so that you can successfully build your plan and strategy and create your own growth opportunities.
Reid: What are you doing to transform the industry to make it more diverse?
Waters: I am currently mentoring four women in the industry and at Ten-X. We’re also setting up a “Women in CREtech” group at Ten-X to provide networking and mentoring opportunities for women across our organization. Our goal is to expand the group beyond Ten-X over time so that we can connect with other women in the proptech space.
Reid: What’s so different about Ten-X compared to other platforms?
Waters: At Ten-X, we’re focused on transforming and simplifying the most difficult part of commercial real estate: the transaction. With Ten-X Commercial, brokers can decrease the time from list to close by an average of 50 percent – a typical 180-day process becomes 90 days. Our technology also helps them automate workflows so they can manage 20 percent more concurrent transactions.
We’ve also integrated data analysis, real-time insight and reporting. Automating the tactical components that are the most time consuming in a transaction, has allowed us to make things more efficient and streamlined, while consolidating the time frame and increasing productivity for brokers.
Reid: Ten-X is a marketplace to buy/sell commercial real estate. If money or time wasn’t an issue, how would that impact how you do business? What initiatives or program would you create?
Waters: One of the interesting outcomes of building an online transaction platform like ours, is that Ten-X has increased marketplace liquidity, enabling and empowering more buyers to invest in commercial real estate. For example, some of our buyers have been able to invest in smaller, tertiary markets or communities that they wouldn’t normally have access to. If money or time weren’t an issue, I would want to expand on that principle and create a greater end-to-end commercial real estate ecosystem that could support more tertiary communities. A broader ecosystem could be a way to bring in new investment into communities that would otherwise struggle without it.
Reid: Who are your role models?
Waters: My mom is one of my top role models as she’s taught me so much and has shaped my personal values including dedication, kindness and commitment to mentoring others. I also really respect Bill Gates for his commitment to giving back to communities, his work in healthcare and all that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has done to improve healthcare around the world. I also admire the way Bill’s success has not impacted his personal values.
Reid: What were some things you learned working at Bill Gates Investments?
Waters: While at Bill Gates Investments, I learned how to integrate personal values into decision making and that if you wouldn’t do something personally, then to not do it professionally.
Reid: What’s next for you after Ten-X?
Waters: I think after Ten-X, I plan to spend more of my time in non-profit type work with organizations like Girls, Inc., where I was a national board member for seven years and continue to be a huge supporter. I’d also want to dedicate more time to helping reduce homelessness through an innovative real estate solution.