The Silicon Review
In the digital world we live in, the commercial real estate segment has lagged behind other financial sectors when it comes to fully utilizing data analytics capabilities. It is a well-known fact that real estate is the largest asset class globally, and there are many investors who consider it as the most efficient way to diversify their portfolios. However, the recent effects of macro conditions including a global pandemic, economic slowdown, and socio-political uncertainties have highlighted the importance of robust data and intelligence in the real estate sector. Real estate investors are looking for ways to deal with such uncertainties, and experts are certain that data is the answer to the issues.
While there are companies that deliver various data solutions for commercial real estate owners,
Prophia, Inc. stands out from the rest. Prophia brings massive amounts of business and tenant information together to empower CRE building owners with real-time, trusted, data and insights that invite action.
In conversation with Cameron Steele, Co-Founder and CEO of Prophia, Inc.,
Q. Tell us about your full range of offerings.
Prophia offers a data platform built exclusively for commercial real estate that tethers data to its source. By extracting BI-ready data directly from its sources and making it available in easily digestible formats, Prophia gives building owners and investors a competitive advantage with a unique opportunity to mitigate risk, reveal business opportunities and elevate decision-making across individual assets, markets, and entire portfolios.
Q. What makes Prophia different from others in the data management space?
Prophia is designed exclusively for the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) sector. The cornerstone of our product development process is the feedback loop we have created with our customers. One of the first things we did early on was establish an Advisory Program that ensures we have a direct channel with customers willing to participate in the design and prioritization of some of our key capabilities. We value the close relationships we have with all our customers. It’s a strength that sets us apart from others.
Q. Why are your solutions relevant in today’s age? Could you give us some context?
Thomas Tull, entrepreneur and CEO of Tulco, talks about the “New Physics of Business.” One of the things that inspired me in that line of thinking was how could we also “take technologies, artificial intelligence, and data science” and point them at CRE – an industry that didn’t traditionally have a lot of innovation and potentially would not have access to talent to build those capabilities. There’s more to this new physics. The notions of velocity, elasticity, data fluency are becoming vital components of new markets and reinvented industries. Prophia is well-positioned to guide CRE companies through this chapter.
Q. Could you tell us about the technologies that power your offerings?
Our core data storage is built on AWS. We use a combination of NLP, OCR, Graph DB and other modern data extraction techniques to mine information from unstructured data sources like PDFs, and documents. We value data privacy and security and we are also in the process of ensuring SOC II compliance across our platform and company.
Q. Have there been any setbacks in Prophia’s journey so far?
As with any startup, our biggest investment is in our employees. Finding and retaining the best talent is always top of mind for me. Knock on wood, we’ve never had setbacks in that area and are firing on all cylinders right now. But I certainly don’t want to jinx anything!
Q. How important are partnerships to your company?
We look at partnerships as one of the best ways to scale our company for sustained growth. We have established programs with industry best practices for attracting and retaining both technology and services partners. That said, we spend a lot of time finding companies that make sense for us – both in terms of business need and overlap and in terms of having sterling reputations. We are in the business of trust – trusted data, trusted services, and trusted relationships. It is imperative that this brand promise carries to our partner relationships.
Q. How have you innovated during these times of the COVID-19 pandemic? How has the pandemic affected the company?
External shocks like epidemics and economic downturns typically have a short-term impact on CRE asset prices and near-to-no influence on transaction activity. COVID has been the exception. In this case, the CRE industry was affected immediately. This was because trade activities and occupiers’ businesses were immediately shut down due to isolation requirements. Liquidity, leasing volumes, cap rates, investments, and operations all pointed down. On the flip side, one thing many CRE businesses have confronted during the pandemic is how they can use technology to increase efficiency. This “new world order” provided a proof point for the importance of our platform as access to data became increasingly vital.
Q. What can we expect from Prophia in the near future?
We are excited to be expanding our capabilities to new customers and new usage scenarios. There’s a lot of work ahead. CRE is a tremendous industry with great opportunities.
Meet the leader behind the success of Prophia, Inc.
Cameron Steele is the Co-Founder and CEO of Prophia, Inc. With over 25 years of experience in software, Cameron was most recently an executive at OpenTable and Booking.com. He was COO and part of the founding executive team at buuteeq, Inc. that was acquired by Booking Holdings/Priceline Group in 2014. Cameron has an undergraduate degree from Stanford and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.