Logan Soya, founder and CEO of Aquicore</a href>, shares what he learned while trying to sell energy efficiency technology to landlords and property managers, and gives some tips to anyone who wants to reach this sector.
In your own words - what is Aquicore?
Acquicore is a combination of hardware and software to monitor Electricity, water and gas consumption in commercial buildings in real time to help make energy use more efficient. Our target customers are commercial real estate property managers and landlords, who want to take advantage of savings and be able to bill tenants for utilities more efficiently. Major retailers are already asking retail landlords to install similar real time metering technology in shopping centers, and we would like to see the same pull coming from office tenants. Our bigger vision is to revolutionize the way information from buildings is accessed and give owners and property managers real time insight about all their building stats.
Why did you start Aquicore?
I come from the telecom space, where we had to maintain a 99% uptime for our systems, and if anything broke down, we needed to figure out very quickly where the failure occurred. I saw a huge opportunity to do the same thing in the commercial real estate world for systems in commercial buildings.
You don’t come from a CRE background. How has this affected your ability to succeed in this industry?
In the first year and a half, I made it a point to meet 30 industry people per week: tenant and landlord reps, property managers, and even building service vendors like cable companies, to understand how relationships in the industry work. I quickly learned that while having the initial conversation can be tough, once you’ve made a few connections, people in the industry are fairly generous in referring others to you. Moving forward, we want to build relationships because we are a newcomer to the industry, so we’re doing all we can to delight our customers and turn them into ambassadors for us.
What are your challenges?
Learning the industry buying process was difficult for us at first, since the process is different for every property type. We overcome this by interviewing various professionals, often times as a part of sales process, to understand their pain points. I am still very much involved in sales because I want to understand our customers. We also have a culture of encouraging curiosity - asking the questions and translating the answers into actions. If the customer sees the value in our product but a sale still doesn’t go through, it’s usually because of the customer’s procurement cycle.
Another challenge was selecting a segment of focus. Acquicore is a hardware and software data company, and I initially assumed that the property type we sold to didn’t matter. I later learned that every sector- office, institutional, retail, hotels - was very different, and we would need to create a unique marketing and sales process for every segment. We ended up focusing on Institutional and office properties. choosing office properties was a no brainer; Aquicore can implement the solution and delight the customer in a matter of weeks. With the focus on office, Aquicore now understands the pain points, the hierarchy and the decision making process around purchases in this sector.
Finally, like many technology companies, we are challenged with educating the customer that technology and hardware can yield information that will lead to savings. There are several early adopters, but despite the buzz about smart buildings, not much is being done to implement technology to increase efficiency and savings in commercial buildings. Through our blog, webinars, and partnerships with organizations such as Cassidy Turley, Acquicore is trying to disseminate the message across to landlords and tenants.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs looking to get into CRE tech?
Think hard about your sales process. Your technology can have lots of value, but selling it in the CRE world will be tough, so be ready to spend some time figuring out what segment to focus on. Do not go too broad at first -focus on one sector, because you have to dive deep and understand the customer in order to reach the end of a sales cycle.
Logan Soya, founder and CEO of Aquicore, has designed, implemented and sold multi-million dollar operation management platforms in the IT and Telecom industries. He founded Aquicore in 2011 and grew the company to work with leading commercial real estate companies and local governments. Logan received his MBA at Georgetown University and London Business School, and was recognized by Bisnow Tech as one of the 30 under 40.
Danny Shachar is CompStak's Director of Marketing. Danny loves talking to our users and particularly enjoys cataloging and tagging our community members into CRM sized bits. In his free time he tells the world about CompStak and finds creative ways to stretch our operations dollars. Danny has dabbled in real estate brokerage, development and construction, but being a part of the CompStak team is his favorite. He stumbled upon Michael and Vadim after a brief MBA stint at Carnegie Mellon and never looked back.