Kylie Davis: (00:00)
Welcome to The Proptech Podcast. It’s Kylie Davis here, and I’m delighted to be your host as we explore the brave new world where technology and real estate and property collide. I passionately believe we need to grow and create a sense of community between the innovators and the real estate agents and property owners, and sharing our stories is a great way to do that. Now, the aim of each episode is to introduce listeners to a proptech innovator who is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and to explore the issues and challenges raised by the tech and how they create amazing property experiences.
Kylie Davis: (00:34)
Now, if you are like me and millions of others of homeowners out there, you have a drawer in your kitchen that is overflowing with old receipts, manuals, and warranties for all of the equipment in your home, plus a few old remotes, flat batteries, and pictures that the kids painted in kindie a lifetime ago. My guest this week is Trish Mackie-Smith, CEO and co-founder of inndox, a proptech that is a digital property logbook and was the winner of the Most Innovative Property and Facilities Management Startup Award at the PropTech Awards hosted by the Proptech Association of Australia.
Kylie Davis: (01:10)
Now, Trish has a very impressive professional background that qualifies her in this space. She is a former property lawyer and co-founder of Australia’s most awarded building consultancy. She is the winner of the HIA 2019 Women in Building and Construction Awards Business Development Professional, and has led a campaign to improve seller disclosure for property buyers that is currently before Parliament. Trish started inndox with her husband, Andrew Mackie-Smith, who is actually Australia’s most awarded building consultant, having won the Master Builders Queensland Building Consultant of the Year in 2017 and 2018 as well as Your Investment Property Magazine Best Building and Pest Business in Australia in 2018. Now, here to tell us all about inndox, Trish Mackie-Smith, welcome to The Proptech Podcast.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (02:00)
Thanks, Kylie. Thanks for having me here.
Kylie Davis: (02:03)
I am really excited about this interview. Congratulations on being a finalist in the PropTech Awards. That’s awesome.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (02:09)
Yes, thank you.
Kylie Davis: (02:10)
To kick off, we always start with our elevator pitch. So tell me what is the elevator pitch for inndox?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (02:16)
Sure. Well, like you have a logbook for your car with all the service history that passes from owner to owner, inndox provides digital logbooks for your property so that everything is in one place, and it helps with easy maintenance throughout the entire life cycle and passes from owner to owner.
Kylie Davis: (02:38)
So I love this idea because I think every property owner has a drawer underneath the tea towels where you put all the-
Trish Mackie-Smith: (02:47)
Kylie Davis: (02:50)
… warranties and the-
Trish Mackie-Smith: (02:52)
Kylie Davis: (02:52)
… bits of… Then they die or they get broken, and then you end up with this drawer full of junk, basically, that none of the things that are in there actually are in the house anymore, and when it comes time to sale… Where did you get the idea from?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (03:12)
Okay. I think with my background as a property lawyer and doing conveyancing and seeing that there’s often issues around the time of purchase or sale. Getting all that information together, that can often lead to a lot of stress and delays. Then if a future owner comes into that building or property, often with very little information, they don’t have a clue about how to manage that property, if there are any warranties in place, if they’ve expired, who are the contacts for trades. Then tenants don’t get much information either, and this leads to buildings being neglected, not kept in proper condition, and it affects the value of the asset. So I just thought, “There needs to be a better way to manage your properties.”
Kylie Davis: (04:17)
This problem, how big a deal is it? Do you have any kind of idea in terms of size? Or how many deals have you seen as a lawyer that handles conveyancing be delayed due to problems with being able to follow up documentation?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (04:34)
Just about everyone, unfortunately. Yeah.
Kylie Davis: (04:39)
Yeah. I can imagine it’s becoming a bigger and bigger issue too because more and more of our homes are being digitised, like from the air conditioning, or the heating, and security systems, and roller doors for the garage, and solar panels, and all of that stuff. So much of the things in our property need the documentation sitting behind it.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (05:06)
Yes. It’s becoming more and more important.
Kylie Davis: (05:09)
Trish Mackie-Smith: (05:10)
Yeah, and we’re relying on so much technology. We don’t know how to manage it, and then things break and that causes more stress. So, yeah, it’s-
Kylie Davis: (05:19)
And you can’t remember the pin number that you had when you first installed it so you can’t tell your new owner what that is. So you’re almost buying a property that you’ve bought for all of these features, but actually, a lot of those features are redundant because of the sake of a four digit pin code, right?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (05:34)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s right.
Kylie Davis: (05:36)
Yeah. Awesome. So once we’ve solved this problem, once we have this idea of a logbook, and I guess it makes complete sense because we’ve been keeping logbooks for our cars for forever, what does that open up to us? What other things become possible if we’ve got a good digital logbook for our homes?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (05:59)
Well, it means that it can speed up the due diligence for buyers when they go to buy a property. If they can access the information, the history of the property, the approvals are there, the certificates are in place, they know that the termite treatment has been kept up-to-date, that gives buyers confidence to then proceed with the purchase. Then they are willing to pay the right price because they know that the value of the property. So that improves transparency and trust in the system and confidence for people to be able to go ahead and buy that property knowing that everything’s there.
Kylie Davis: (06:49)
But I imagine it’s not just something that benefits you at sale time too. I mean, it’s quite a relief to know that you’ve got a spot to put all of that information as you’re doing it, like when you’re renovating, when you get the-
Trish Mackie-Smith: (07:03)
Kylie Davis: (07:03)
… invoice from the builder, when you get the quote, or when you get the certificate from the termite guy. It’s one of those horrible things, pieces of adulting, isn’t it, that you are supposed to just know what to do with that stuff? I remember saying to my dad, “What do I do with this?” He’s like, “Ah, put it in the filing cabinet.” I was like, “What?”
Trish Mackie-Smith: (07:29)
And yet this could be a million dollar asset. We know hardly anything about it. You buy a car, a $50,000 car, you’d only buy it if it had a logbook.
Kylie Davis: (07:39)
Trish Mackie-Smith: (07:39)
You wouldn’t buy a car without one. So, that’s where I think the same should apply. The other thing that I’m very passionate about is seller disclosure. There’s a lack of that because with the buyer beware law, it doesn’t protect the buyer. It’s all about protecting the seller. Therefore, sellers don’t have to provide the information upfront. So I’m very passionate about having this in place. Seller disclosure becomes the norm. People can see exactly what the condition of the property is and can trust in that. Unfortunately, around Australia the buyer beware law is in place, except in the ACT where they do have a form of seller disclosure. But the trend is, if you look over around the world, seller disclosure is coming, and there’s going to be consumer protection in place eventually. But until that happens, I’m looking at technology to step in and protect buyers.
Kylie Davis: (09:02)
Yeah. It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it, that this is one of the biggest purchase decisions you make in your life, but you actually have more protection if you buy a $50 watch at David Jones?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (09:12)
Yeah. You can take it back.
Kylie Davis: (09:14)
Yeah, you might.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (09:14)
You cant take your-
Kylie Davis: (09:14)
Trish Mackie-Smith: (09:17)
You can’t get a refund for your property.
Kylie Davis: (09:17)
“I bought this thinking it had solar power, but I can’t make it work.” Yeah, yeah. “I can’t get the garage door to go up and down, and now I have to buy a whole new device for it.” I really find this extraordinarily interesting. So tell me, Trish, how does it tie-in with real estate agents? How can real estate agents use this tech?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (09:43)
Okay. Well, again, it should help with speeding up the sales process and the due diligence. They can share the information, that when they get the listing they ask the seller for all the information that the seller has to go on to the inndox. That could include the floor plans, the contract for sale, the certificates and approvals. So all of this can then be shared with potential buyers online. So I know that in the future more and more properties will be bought online and sight unseen. So this enables the due diligence to be conducted online and very quickly.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (10:38)
So it can operate as like a selling tool for the real estate agent to set up an inndox, share that information at the time of due diligence. Not only that, they can provide extra information there for down the track, their network of contacts, mortgage brokers, conveyancers, all of that can go in the inndox, that can help the buyer. Then at the end it can be like a gift provided to the buyer instead of giving them a bottle of champagne, or flowers, or balloons, or whatever. You can provide this like a gift for the owner to have everything for free to help them better manage and maintain their property with all the alerts in there, the warranty alerts, the maintenance alerts, and contacts.
Kylie Davis: (11:34)
How awesome. So who are your clients at the moment? Are they real estate agents bringing sellers to you to say, “Look, we need to upload all of your documents using inndox as part of the sale process”? Or are they homeowners who are saying, “I don’t want a filing cabinet or a junk drawer with all of the old out-of-date warranties in it anymore. I want a central spot to put it so that it’s somewhere useful”?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (12:09)
Okay. That’s our goal to market to the property owners eventually, but we entered the market to attract builders and property developers, to help them with their handover to property owners, to digitise that process. Because, as you said, the handover is usually paper form, 90% still provided in manuals full of paper that go into the kitchen drawer. So we help them digitise that process. There’s more legal obligations now, that they must provide information to the property owner at the time of settlement. Instead of providing paper that goes missing, we help them collate all that information, package it up, and then provide an app to the property owner. Then that can be transferred to future owners.
Kylie Davis: (13:11)
Okay. So at the moment you’re working predominantly with new properties and builders and owners to digitalize.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (13:20)
That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. We can do established buildings. We have that capability, but we’re looking at getting quality data, and the best data is right at the beginning.
Kylie Davis: (13:33)
Trish Mackie-Smith: (13:33)
We’ve got a good set of-
Kylie Davis: (13:35)
Before it gets lost-
Trish Mackie-Smith: (13:37)
All of the [crosstalk 00:13:38]-
Kylie Davis: (13:37)
… over time.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (13:37)
… and everything are there and you can rely on that. So, that’s where we’re going. Also, there is a pain point that we’re solving for the property developer and builder. The laws are a bit patchy all around Australia, and it will become uniform eventually. In fact, recommendations have been made. The federal government is cracking down on what builders should provide because of all the issues with the cracking in buildings and the flammable cladding and all of that. So we guide the builders to provide that information, the right information, and then they can meet their compliance.
Kylie Davis: (14:22)
Awesome. Okay. Well, look, when you need some test subjects for a beta of property owners, let me know because I am so up for that.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (14:31)
Oh, sure. Yeah.
Kylie Davis: (14:34)
I have got a pile of things that I don’t know what to do. So would you scan them or photograph them through your phone and load them into the app? Is that how it works? [Crosstalk 00:14:43].
Trish Mackie-Smith: (14:42)
Yeah. You can do either, but most people just photograph with their phone and upload it. It’s very easy. We’ve got a brilliant UX designer, and so that it’s all very intuitive and logical, and it’s easy to use and a joy to use, I think.
Kylie Davis: (15:02)
Yeah, fabulous. We love easy tech.
Kylie Davis: (15:05)
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Kylie Davis: (16:15)
So how long have you been going for, Trish? How old is inndox?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (16:21)
Inndox, well, it was launched in 2018, just a soft launch to test the market. Since then, oh, look, yeah, we’ve been attracting builders and some quite big property developers all around Australia, predominantly in Victoria and South Australia. That’s where they seem to be the most innovative. Because a lot of these companies are very traditional and have legacy systems, and it takes some convincing for them to use technology, but it’s starting to, yeah, become more acceptable.
Kylie Davis: (17:13)
Yeah, cool. But you’re based in Brisbane. So you are getting a big following in Melbourne and in Victoria and South Australia?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (17:21)
Kylie Davis: (17:22)
Awesome. Okay, cool. Now, you mentioned before that your background is as a lawyer and a conveyancer. So what led you to set up inndox? Was it just that you got fed up with chasing the material?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (17:39)
Kylie Davis: (17:39)
Or what was the aha moment?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (17:42)
Oh, look, I think I realised that, “Why hasn’t this been done before? There should be an easier way. You get a logbook for your car.” I wanted to investigate the laws about, well, protecting buyers who have bought lemon properties. I think that’s probably what really got to me, I saw injustices and over time. I’ve also been involved in a consultancy, a building consultancy, for the last 20 years with my husband, who’s also a co-founder of inndox, and he’s a commercial builder and a certifier. So together we came up with this concept of inndox and using technology to provide all this information, yeah, and overcome the lack of transparency, and so that buyers know what they’re buying and hopefully lift the standard in the industry.
Kylie Davis: (18:56)
Awesome. So shout out to Andrew, who is your co-founder and partner in life.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (19:03)
Kylie Davis: (19:04)
So you started in 2018. How big are you now, Trish?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (19:08)
Yeah. Well, we’ve got over 2000 users.
Kylie Davis: (19:11)
Trish Mackie-Smith: (19:14)
Yeah. We’re growing. We’re always, yeah, getting calls and onboarding. But as mentioned earlier, we can serve real estate agencies as well. So we’re currently onboarding some. One agency is using us who’s international, and they love it. They love the idea that it can be provided as a gift. And also building inspectors. So we’re rolling out with the National Inspection Company at the moment across Australia. So, yes, we are growing. There is a traction happening. It’s all very exciting. Yeah.
Kylie Davis: (20:02)
How big is your team?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (20:04)
Well, we’ve got six in the core team, and that includes three devs, developers and engineers, the two founders, Andrew and myself, and a marketing person, but I think we’re going to have to put on some new staff soon. Yeah.
Kylie Davis: (20:22)
Awesome. Awesome. So what’s your business model? How do you charge? Is it a SaaS? Is it a subscription service? Yeah.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (20:32)
Yeah. It’s business to business at this stage. So the end user property owner gets it for free. If the builder or property developer, real estate agent inspector provides the inndox, they sponsor it on behalf of the owner by paying a monthly fee, and it starts at just $39 a month. For the bigger developers, and we’ve got a few who are huge enterprises and need multiple users and multiple layers of sub-accounts, then that starts at $899 because they need a lot of extra guidance and templates and customization.
Kylie Davis: (21:14)
Okay. So just to get clear, is that $39, is that per property? How does that-
Trish Mackie-Smith: (21:20)
No, that’s per month for up to 10 properties.
Kylie Davis: (21:25)
Got it. Okay.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (21:25)
Then we’ve got a tiered system.
Kylie Davis: (21:27)
Trish Mackie-Smith: (21:27)
So the more properties you put on, then you-
Kylie Davis: (21:31)
The cheaper per property.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (21:31)
… go to the next level.
Kylie Davis: (21:32)
Yeah, okay. It just sounds like a fabulous idea. If I was a real estate agent, looking, who had been in an area, farming my area for a while, I’d be coming to you and saying, “Right, I am…” Because, leads are so hard to get at the moment. I would be offering this to all of my past clients to say, “Look, it’s been a while since we sold. And so, look, I’m going to give this to you now as a gift to say thank you for selling with me or buying or selling with me in the past. Here’s where you put all your stuff so that when it comes time to sell, it gets real, it’s not hard.”
Kylie Davis: (22:10)
So we know that the psychology of selling, there’s so many things that turn people off, which are, “I have to get the house ready. I have to kind of coordinate all of that with the kids and school and weekend sport. And we have to find somewhere else to live. And, oh my god, after all of that, we have to do all the paperwork for it.” It is, it’s so much adulting. It’s absolutely hideous. So all of those things build up the picture of, “Oh, maybe it’s just too hard. Maybe we’ll just cope with it for a bit longer and we won’t really worry.” So a lot of the optional sales don’t happen just because of that mental load that goes on around it. So if I was an agent, that’s what I’d be doing. I’d be going out and offering it to my top potential leads as a great gift to say, “Off we go. Let’s kick off.” Anyway, [crosstalk 00:23:04]-
Trish Mackie-Smith: (23:04)
Yeah, I like that. I think it’s possible that could happen down the track. We do help with making it easy for them with templates and everything. We understand the processes. We’ve been in the industry for a long time. So we can certainly guide them, and we’ve got all these great online tools to help to make it really simple and quick and easy to do. So, yeah, I welcome more real estate agents coming on board.
Kylie Davis: (23:37)
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Kylie Davis: (24:07)
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Kylie Davis: (24:48)
Trish, you’re in this interesting phase that covers conveyancing and law and building and real estate. What do you see coming up in the next five years in that space? What’s your crystal ball tell you about what’s going to change in how all those three things come together?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (25:10)
Well, I think there’ll be more of a demand by property owners for transparency and seller disclosure, and the laws are coming anyway, but I just don’t know when. This is where technology can be there, can fill that gap. Once it gets known, then my vision is that every time someone looks to buy a property, they’ll be saying, “Where’s the inndox?” So, that’s how I think it’s going. Everything’s going digital. People, companies, everybody expects to be able to access all the information on their phone. So transactions will be taking place more and more sight unseen, and the due diligence and everything will be conducted online. There will be smarter buildings, smart homes. Actually, I can see that with Alexa Home and Google Home, you’ll be able to talk to them and ask, “Okay. I need to repaint the kitchen wall. What was the paint colour?” and then it accesses the inndox. So we’re collecting all this data to make it possible to have these smart homes, and yeah, like magic, I think it will happen one day.
Kylie Davis: (26:44)
Yeah. No, look, I think that day is only around the corner. So what does the future look like for inndox? What’s on your roadmap for the next sort of 18 months, couple of years?
Trish Mackie-Smith: (26:55)
Well, we’re at the moment rolling out across Australia with building inspectors. So that can bring a lot of awareness for inndox and rapid traction. They can put 5,000 reports a month onto inndox or more. Then going across to New Zealand, they’ve got franchisees, over 17 in New Zealand. So we are looking to expand into international markets and then also the UK. We’ve had two trips over to the UK and there’s definitely an established market there for us. So, yeah, it’s looking quite exciting and, yeah, I’m very excited about what the future holds.
Kylie Davis: (27:42)
You’ve obviously got your real estate play over here to build out further and also B2C.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (27:48)
Kylie Davis: (27:48)
Trish Mackie-Smith: (27:48)
Kylie Davis: (27:53)
Fantastic. Well, look, Trish, it’s been fantastic to talk to you and hear about inndox. I think it’s a fantastic idea. It’s always hard work getting a startup up and running, so congratulations, and congratulations on being a finalist in The PropTech Awards.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (28:11)
Thanks, Kylie. Thanks for launching that, the first Australian National PropTech Awards.
Kylie Davis: (28:19)
Yes. Well, I’ve questioned my sanity many times since then, but it’s going to be awesome.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (28:23)
It’s really, really good, good for the industry. So, yeah, that’s been a fantastic initiative.
Kylie Davis: (28:31)
Thanks, and thanks so much for being on The Proptech Podcast.
Trish Mackie-Smith: (28:34)
Kylie Davis: (28:36)
So that was Trish Mackie-Smith from inndox, a proptech innovation that I think every homeowner needs. Now, while Trisha and Andrew are currently focusing their sales energy on builders and developers, I see huge potential in this piece of technology and its ability to make life easier for homeowners across so many facets. Now, like I mentioned in the intro, every homeowner has a junk drawer, or a cupboard, or a filing cabinet, or a box where this stuff goes, and that’s not a great system. In fact, probably system is an exaggeration.
Kylie Davis: (29:07)
At sale time, all the important things that you need to hand on to the new owner always seem to be missing, and if you’re relying on that paperwork for replacement with an insurance claim, well, if your house is flooded or burned down, it’s very likely that the drawer has gone as well. So having a centralised cloud-based system to place and capture all of the data for your home makes a lot of sense. Sure, look, we could all save those documents ourselves in a Google Shared Drive or Dropbox, but do we? And like we saw with COVID check-ins, having a centralised system or app that captures important data and makes it infinitely easier to share and provide access when we need it to.
Kylie Davis: (29:45)
Now, property logbooks have been a concept that’s been on the radar for years and years. When I was at CoreLogic, Graham Mirabito used to hold court around this idea of digital keys for properties, which was a really similar concept, and I’ve had other founders talk to me about this idea. But inndox is the first that I’ve heard that have actually got a functioning model into the market. I think that’s because the proptechs that are B2C have found it really difficult to win market share. That’s where inndox have been really clever in targeting it at builders and developers in the first instance. Real estate agents are a natural fit for growth in this market. So well done, inndox, and as soon as you have a B2C offer, Trish, let me know and sign me up because I would love to get that kitchen drawer back.
Kylie Davis: (30:30)
Now, if you have enjoyed this episode of The PropTech Podcast, I’d love you to tell your friends or drop me a line via email, LinkedIn, or Facebook. You can follow the podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple, and Anchor. I’d like to thank my audio support, Charlie Hollands, and the fabulous Jill Escudero, and our sponsors, Direct Connect, Smidge Wines, making exclusive wines in limited quantities and available only via the Cellar Door at smidgewines.com, and ActivePipe, helping you make engaging content for your email marketing.
Kylie Davis: (31:02)
Now, do you run a proptech business or are you the founder of a proptech? Well, make sure you join the Proptech Association of Australia. It’s Australia’s new not-for-profit association made up of tech people who are passionate about the property industry and committed to improving experiences in how we buy, sell, rent, manage, design, build, and finance property. Joining will give you access to events and networks across Australia and globally that will help you promote and grow your business. So go to proptechassociation.com.au and check out our membership page. Thanks, everyone. Until next week, keep on propteching.