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Tell Frankie – Why industrial property needs special solutions [Transcript]

Kylie Davis:

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 collide. I passionately believe we need to create and grow a sense of community between the innovators and real estate agents and property owners and sharing our stories is a great way to do that. 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 can create amazing property experiences. This week is one for commercial agents and property owners in the industrial sector with an interview with Georgie Fenwicke from Tell Frankie. A new property and facilities maintenance Proptech that focuses on the unique needs of industrial property.


Kylie Davis:

Now Tell Frankie is a New Zealand Proptech, and we seem to have a few of those at the moment. And Georgie has a fascinating background having worked in consulting at Deloitte New Zealand, and then for four years after that at Uber in the UK in its early days. Tell Frankie was born during the pandemic, but has got some impressive runs on the board already because of the unique nature of industrial property. And it’s important to us, not just as an asset class, but in the role that our industrial buildings play in keeping our economies running. So here to tell us more Georgie Fenwicke, welcome to the Proptech Podcast.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Thank you very much for having me today.


Speaker 5:

No. It’s great. Now, before we start just tell me, is the name of your Proptech Tell Frankie or just Frankie?


Georgie Fenwicke:

So it’s a combination of the two, so it’s Frankie industrial property software because we look after industrial properties. And then the whole idea is that property managers can Tell Frankie about the issue that they’ve got or tenants can Tell Frankie about the issue that they’ve got and it becomes a key behaviour.


Kylie Davis:

Okay, cool. So what’s the Tell Frankie elevator pitch?


Georgie Fenwicke:

Yeah, so we build tools to maintain industrial properties to largely prevent breakdowns and to deploy OPEX and CapEx over time. We really focus on communications with contractors to make sure that everyone’s on the same page with the works that are scheduled and all of the reactive breakdown issues that come up as well. It can be pretty hectic on a day-to-day basis in a warehouse or logistics centre.


Kylie Davis:

Yeah, I guess because when you have an industrial property is almost a workhorse, isn’t it? It’s not just all of the air con’s not working and that’s a bit inconvenient. This is stuff that can actually really affect production.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Totally. If there’s a roof leak that leaks into some core medical products or food, or if there’s a roller door breakdown that prevents throughput out of an industrial property, it can massively affect revenues as well as obviously the cost of repairs as well.


Kylie Davis:

Okay. So why do industrial buildings need their own special maintenance software? How big is this as a problem?


Georgie Fenwicke:

Yeah. So it’s been really cool developing out with our core customers here in New Zealand. Industrial properties just as we’ve just talked about, require maintenance for operational reasons. And it’s not just the one property that’s usually maintained and looked after by an industrial property team, a network of warehouses usually service either a supply chain business or a manufacturing one. And so what we aim to do is… and they’re usually pretty spread out. So across networks in Australia, you might have a warehouse in Sydney, Brisbane, and maybe Gold Coast as well. And so for property managers, it’s all about centralising the operations in the one place and then helping them to deploy OPEX and CapEx over time as well.


Kylie Davis:

Right. So I imagine you don’t really want to be repairing an industrial building after something’s gone wrong, ideally we want to get to this place where we’re being a bit more proactive about recognising when things are going to wear out or break down.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Absolutely, and that’s where we’re focused as a company. So to give you a bit of an insight into the customer experience, we work with the property team to set up a network of properties, and then we’ll go into actually working with their contractors to say, “Okay, what are the preventative works that are taking place?” And where are the potential gaps. We’ve seen major issues from plumbing and drainage issues in attenuation tanks, where a company has lost a few hundred thousand litres of water through leaks and repairs and all of that sort of thing, right through to those roller door and roof repairs as well. So getting everyone on the same page and then actually focusing on a preventative schedule is where we always start.


Kylie Davis:

Right. So there’s the damage that something going wrong in a building can do to the produce or whatever’s happening inside that building. There’s also the damage, I guess, that… or the time and costs that a broken building or an issue inside a building can cause not just to that factory or that industrial site, but others in the supply chain. And then there’s also, I guess, the unnecessary costs that damage could be doing in the running of that building in terms of the resources that it’s using.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Totally. And all of those are our problems space, and we’re just really excited about the blue ocean opportunity here, because it’s all about starting to rethink existing ways of doing things. And that’s the exciting part about going in and working with our customers, is actually there’s an opportunity to experiment that they haven’t had before, because they’ve just been so busy doing the reactive fixing. Yeah.


Kylie Davis:

So, how did you get into it, Georgie? What’s your background?


Georgie Fenwicke:

Yeah, so it’s an interesting one. So I started out at Deloitte in the consulting team here in New Zealand and very, very quickly after starting, I got sent out to one of the largest construction companies here in New Zealand to look at a number of problems that are facing across supply chain and transport networks and that sort of thing. So I got this amazing opportunity to be a fly on the wall and understand the building products and construction industry here in New Zealand. And then a couple of years after doing that, I moved over to the UK where I started in the operations team for Uber and was in the company there relatively early and saw the… just how quickly an operational business and the transport space can grow out.


Kylie Davis:

And so what’s your background? What’s your training in?


Georgie Fenwicke:

Training is in business and arts actually.


Kylie Davis:

Okay. Okay. Cool. So, how big a problem is it like? How much money does Australia and New Zealand industry lose because of downtime or issues with the premises?


Georgie Fenwicke:

So that’s a huge question. And one that we can only really talk to at the moment in terms of the facilities management market, we’re still learning all sorts of different things about the problem. And it’s a hard one to define because a lot of the stuff doesn’t get very much attention. It goes into OPEX or surprise CapEx budgets, and that sort of… or unplanned CapEx budgets.


Kylie Davis:

Yeah. Surprise.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Yeah. It’s just something that businesses have to deal with, it’s an unforeseen cost. But certainly in the industrial space in New Zealand, it’s about a $700 million market for facilities management and then it’s a few billion in Australia.


Kylie Davis:

Yeah, I bet. I bet. And that’s just facilities management of industrial, that’s not anyone else out there. That’s just the industrial sector. Okay, awesome.


Kylie Davis:

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Kylie Davis:

How does your technology work?


Georgie Fenwicke:

So our technology is a cloud application that’s successful via mobile phones and desktop. And what we’ll do is we’ll sit down with the property team of the network that we’re working with, understand how many properties they’ve got and who their underlying contractor basis. And then we’ll go ahead and work through all of the existing preventative works that they’ve got across their portfolio of properties.


Georgie Fenwicke:

And we’ll work really closely with the property managers or operations managers on site to essentially get that schedule set up and then send out and communicate really closely with the contractors who are coming to do those repairs, and then it becomes a workflow tool. Once you’ve got the property network setup, and so it’s all about scheduling or responding to reactive issues that come through and working with the property teams to send those out over time. Now we’re really passionate about communication and making sure that people have the right information at each stage of the process. So there are all sorts of things from the ability to attach docs, complete inspections, see where the issue is on the floor plan with photos and that sort of thing. So we’re pretty bullish on bringing all of that information to both the contractor and to the property manager as well.


Kylie Davis:

And this is one of the things we see in commercial and industrial I’m assuming too, isn’t it? This… we were building buildings or we’ve got a whole lot of established buildings out there and the asset data that we’ve got around the life cycle or the life stage and the condition that they’re in, it’s not necessarily very up-to-date or in any real order.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Totally. And it’s a really interesting thing for when it comes to handing over a property, whether it’s at a sale point or whether it’s an operational handover where there’s been a change in the team, somebody has been promoted and moving to a different city and they have to hand over all of this knowledge. And a lot of it it’s in paper folders, spreadsheets, calendar reminders, and email. And so what Frankie aims to do is really enable a team to pass the ball to themselves in future or to somebody else in the business that says, “Cool, this is what’s happened in the past. This is the plan for the future.” And anyone can jump into the tour, whether it be a board member, the head of property, the CEO, or the property teams themselves to actually understand and get a transparent view of what the plan is.


Kylie Davis:

What’s the reaction been from your clients? Do you get any objections or do people just go, “Oh my God, thank God I got you here. Here’s my factory place.” What sorted out?


Georgie Fenwicke:

Totally well, as you can imagine it’s all sorts of different responses. Over the last few months it’s been a really, really cool response. We’ve just been building like crazy from a product perspective. There is a bit of a time commitment just to get the [crosstalk 00:13:00] yeah. To essentially get the data in there and get everyone aligned. But I think it offers the most amazing opportunity at the same time to rethink operations, as we were talking about before and say, “Cool, we’ve got this planned, what’s the gap?” And all of that sort of thing, and Hey, it can be the… there are peaks and troughs in an industrial property as you go through seasonality and that sort of thing. And if the decision’s not right for right now, we can come back in three to six months and have the through the setup then.


Kylie Davis:

Right. Okay. I guess you’re working with what? Surveyors and things to capture the information that’s inside their reports into your software, or are you…


Georgie Fenwicke:

Absolutely. Quantity surveying firms are brilliant to work with, particularly after they’ve done a condition assessment or they’ve just completed a building. It’s the perfect opportunity to jump in and say, “Okay, what’s the schedule like to maintain the condition or actually set a bit of a CapEx budget at the same time.” There’s an element to actually saying, okay, once you’ve broken down a building…


Kylie Davis:

I wanted… just lost you for a second there.


Georgie Fenwicke:

There’s an element to say, once you’ve broken down a building, say your key risk areas are plumbing and drainage, roofing and the foundations. And those are the areas that you’d see greatest unexpected cost. It’s about saying, okay, what’s the best OPEX and CapEx profile for us to look at over the next five years and then work with the finance team to say, okay, how do we finance this? And what are our options here?


Kylie Davis:

Yeah. Okay, fantastic. So did you play a role in making industrial buildings smarter?


Georgie Fenwicke:

I see that as a massive future opportunity. The idea of IOT is just such an interesting one. I have a bit of background working, obviously for Uber and Workflow and Transport Check, but also spent a year working with a computer vision team and understanding machine learning and AI, and that sort of thing. The IOT space I think is potentially being overused at the moment, but I think once we work out where the real use cases are and preventing building leaks or understanding where they are early on, or predicting the breakdown of an HVAC unit, I think those things at scale can really change the way that cities and industrial parks operate.


Kylie Davis:

Okay. Fantastic. So, how old is, Tell Frankie? How long have you been around for?


Georgie Fenwicke:

Yeah. So we launched in February of last year.


Kylie Davis:

Oh, wow.


Georgie Fenwicke:

We incorporated right in the depths of about two or three weeks before New Zealand went into full COVID lockdown. Okay. So we’re just over a year old.


Kylie Davis:

Wow. Fantastic. So, what’s your growth trajectory been like? How big are you now? Or what’s some… give us something that will help us understand how many clients you’ve got or whatever.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Absolutely. So we’ve been in market in the industrial space for about eight months of that time. We took a bit of a breather just while COVID was disrupting the world globally. And we’re actively hiring in Tikkun ops, we’re very… in New Zealand is this huge industrial space in Auckland, the White Ghetto and town called the Golden Triangle. And we’re onboarding customers all the time in those areas and then have some really strong growth aspirations to move to Australia and the US in the next 12 to 12 to 18 months.


Kylie Davis:

Fantastic. And so are your clients… you said before they’re property and facilities managers or they’re property owners, or a mix of both. Who’s driving, who’s saying, oh God, we need this?


Georgie Fenwicke:

Yeah. So a mix of all of those profiles. So we’re seeing property managers, construction teams, and organisations with a facilities function. We’re seeing food safety and mechanical engineering firms reach out just in terms of the compliance associated with processing lines [crosstalk 00:17:28] good thing as well.


Kylie Davis:

So I was talking to Wayne Herbert from AI Assets recently, and he was saying too that with what the work that they do, which is identifying the assets and pulling them into a cloud based elements so that they can and I guess, hand over to check like yours to say, all right, well, here’s all the data now you got to do with it. But he was saying too, that, yeah, this whole compliance stuff, because everything has been manual for so long. There’s these whole different sectors and many sectors of industries that are there around specialisation of… around compliance for the different elements of buildings like these.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Totally. I think… the whole property industry, and it’s been talked about a lot in terms of how much penetration technology has in the property sector. And I think that’s why it’s so exciting that there are associations like Proptech Australia, Proptech New Zealand, and then others around the world starting to spin up because it talks to the maturing of the market. And just how open people are to say yes, we believe that technology can start to help us with these workflows. So yeah, there’s a huge amount of opportunity in the space.


Kylie Davis:

Yeah. Fantastic. So do you think that in time Tell Frankie’s going to start to actually impact on property valuation? Whether… I guess knowing the history of property maintenance and management and how that’s gone, which you’re capturing that both through the data and also the communication side of it and the IP of what’s happened. Is that going to be backed up almost like a log book for a building?


Georgie Fenwicke:

I think yet to be determined, but I can see the connection there. So I think we’re at it’s core, should solve the operational workflow problems and make life easier for the operations team or the property team working with contractors, that’s the core aim of it. But yeah, I think over time where we can see the history of the building and understand, Hey, yep. It’s been well maintained over its lifetime and there’ve been few operational issues, that talks to the strength of the tenancy landlord relationship over time. And then I think increasingly we’re also seeing some really interesting carbon profiling in the market as well, and that would probably start to come in as well.


Kylie Davis:

So tell me more about the carbon profiling.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Yeah. So I had this great day at the Inci GBC Green Summit a few weeks ago, put on by the property council here in New Zealand and it was all around embedded carbon profiles within property. Steel and concrete obviously being large aspects of them and it’s our firm belief again, we’re proving it out over time, but that if you maintain the profile, whether that be a roofing profile or the concrete foundations, you’ll see these huge gains and embodied carbon savings over time, because there’ll be less replacements in this. And yeah, the building products should last longer.


Kylie Davis:

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Kylie Davis:

So if I’m a property owner. If I’m a landlord and I’ve got a… or a property owner and I have all of my properties using a product like Tell Frankie, in the next five years, how am I going to be ahead? Or how am I going to be stronger as… what’s my advantage going to be over someone who is still doing it the old way.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Time and rhythm. I think that the key thing that… so Uber was a fascinating company to work for in the sense of… it said, “Okay, what do we need to do to empower drivers, to increase their earnings, to have an easier access to jobs and bookings across the city.” When they wanted them and when they wanted to work. I think there’s a huge opportunity from a property manager’s perspective and efficiency game to look after more properties and increase the size of their own business if you’ve got tools to do more. At the moment it’s hyper manual, there are spreadsheets or paper forms that you have to fill out all the time and we just asked the question, what if you didn’t have to do that? What if you could? What if you could open the same task and get exactly the same information through a link on your phone?


Kylie Davis:

Yeah. And everyone’s like, yes, no, I should definitely do that. That’s awesome.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Totally. Absolutely. And…


Kylie Davis:

Or would you like to hire three more people?


Georgie Fenwicke:

Yeah. Well, it comes down to, you can hire those three more people. Absolutely. Because now you’re doing and looking after 500 properties as opposed to 50 properties, which is awesome for any business.


Kylie Davis:

Yeah. Fantastic. So, what’s the competitive landscape like? You’re… I haven’t heard a lot around Proptech in the industrial space now that might be that might be I’m a little bit behind the times, but what’s the competitive landscape like?


Georgie Fenwicke:

So I think competition exists absolutely everywhere. There are a number of American players in the market and then a lot of the accounting softwares. Oh no, I’m going to start again. So I think competition exists everywhere, which is absolutely fantastic and through organisations like Proptech Australia, we’re starting to see some awesome technology come through. The exciting thing is that because the space is so open, there are a whole range of different opportunities for different companies to learn from each other. And so we’ve been inspired by other similar companies. They’ve been players like Upkeep in the US. We’ve got Maximo from IBM. We’ve got the likes of Beams here in New Zealand, which has been operating for a long time and even Released as well here in New Zealand. It’s just… everyone’s understanding that there’s this big opportunity to help people do more in less time.


Kylie Davis:

And are all of those guys specifically in industrial or are they’re broader?


Georgie Fenwicke:

Way broader, which is really interesting. So yeah. More in the office and retail space.


Kylie Davis:

Yeah. Okay. And we’re always seeing that aren’t we? That we’re seeing that check is of going an inch wide the mile deep in being specific around things, but then linking up to other platforms that can provide the adjacent services in the same inch wide mile deep expertise level.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Totally. And that’s the very cool thing it’s just fascinating to see what else is out there in the market. Bridge, the marketplace in Australia is super interesting from a residential property perspective, just very blown away by what they’ve done over there.


Kylie Davis:

Yeah. So what do you think… so in this industrial space that you guys are specifically in, what do you think the future holds for that, Georgie? Where do you see it going?


Georgie Fenwicke:

Well. So industrial is the backbone of a city. So it’s a really fascinating asset class. And there are a few different trends that we see in the market, both globally and then in Australia and New Zealand as well. There’s the obvious one of the rise of e-commerce. So cloud kitchens being located closer to the city fringe so that you can dispatch more parcels to homes and apartment buildings is a huge one. And then for Western economies, we’re looking at needing to rebuild a lot of the core infrastructure in cities. I don’t know what it’s like over in Sydney at the moment, but in New Zealand, we’ve got some water infrastructure too. We’ve got roading, rail in the states it’s… Biden’s being very bullish on an infrastructure plan. So I just think it’s going to be a really fascinating industry to just essentially participate in and assist.


Kylie Davis:

Okay. Sydney was built on a system of kangaroo trails. So yeah, a little bit like Auckland, I think so. Not necessarily kangaroos, but goat track are off to certain areas and then suddenly a whole city turned up so.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Totally. Well, Most of the roading network in Africa is actually old elephant migration lines. So yeah. They built the road on top of the elephant tracks unfortunately, which is not good for the elephants because of long memories.


Kylie Davis:

I know, and they don’t necessarily go in a straight line. So, really lots of stuff going on in the industrial space where we’re seeing, I guess, improved efficiency, improved infrastructure I’m imagining a lot more environmental and green and energy efficiency elements coming in, which add to the complexity of building management.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s what we’re really excited about for the future of Frankie. We’re just punked, starting a company and working in an operational environment just gives you the opportunity to experiment with their customers, their contractors and on what the right maintenance mix is. What reporting they need to see, starting to think about, Hey, what do we need to do to represent carbon profiles? Experiment with mechanical engineers on processes it’s just a huge way to open space and I think that’s what we’re super excited about.


Kylie Davis:

Okay. So how many people are in the team now?


Georgie Fenwicke:

So we’ve got about five.


Kylie Davis:

Awesome. Okay. Well, that’s not bad for your first year. That’s a good sign. And so what does the future looks like or look like for Tell Frankie or for Frankie?


Georgie Fenwicke:

I think just that. So we’re excited about expanding and continuing to build out our product to service industrial property portfolios here in New Zealand. We have global ambitions. So we’re excited to get over to Australia and the US. The jab is super exciting so if we can get vaccinated and then hit out into the rest of the world, it’ll be very exciting.


Kylie Davis:

Are you working on any factories that are creating vaccines?


Georgie Fenwicke:

No. I think… So, the brilliant thing is Australia has a number of factories where you are producing the vaccine, but I don’t think there are any… correct me if I’m wrong, I may get in trouble for this, but I don’t think we’ve got any here in New Zealand.


Kylie Davis:

Oh, okay. I don’t know that.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Australia has been very kind with vaccination treaties to New Zealand and the Pacific islands. It’s been great, but we just need more of them.


Kylie Davis:

Just need more. They need to crank it up. Look, Georgie, it’s been absolutely wonderful talking to you. And I’m so fascinated. I’m so excited also to see a woman working in, I guess, a very blokey area of industrial Proptech as well. So that’s great as well.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Thank you. I’m just about take it out for beers with a bunch of guys. So it should be quite a good evening.


Kylie Davis:

Well, it is part of the job description, isn’t it? In Proptech.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Oh. Definitely. That’s where you get the most creative ideas.


Kylie Davis:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, look, it’s been absolutely wonderful talking to you. Best of luck with Frankie and thanks for being on the Proptech podcast.


Georgie Fenwicke:

Well. Thank you very much for having me.


Kylie Davis:

So that was Georgie Fenwicke from Tel Frankie, a new property and facilities management platform that specialises in the unique needs of industrial properties. I’m going to confess that I never really thought about the importance and issues that industrial properties face, when something goes wrong it’s not just the inconvenience of something in the building not working. It’s the fact that that can impact on production, on stock quality, on logistics and profit, and that can have huge flow on effects to other businesses. So it’s great to see a bespoke piece of tech being built to reduce the pain points for landlords, property managers, and tenants in industrial, which in turn I imagine is only going to improve property value. So great work, Georgie and the Tel Frankie team.


Kylie Davis:

Now, if you have enjoyed this episode of the Proptech Podcast, I’d love you to tell your friends. Drop me a line, either via email, LinkedIn or Facebook, or you can follow this podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, [inaudible 00:32:02] and Apple iTunes. And we’re coming up to our 13,000 download, which is not too bad for such a niche space. I’d like to thank my audio support, Charlie Hollins and the fabulous Jill Escudero and our sponsors Direct Connect, making moving easy. Smidge Wines, exclusive wines made in limited quantities and available only via the cellar door at smudgewines.com and ActivePipe, helping you make engaging content for your email marketing.


Kylie Davis:

Now, do you run a Proptech business or are you the founder of a Proptech? Well make sure you join the Proptech association. 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. Go to proptechassociation.com.edu. Thanks so much everyone until next week. Keep on prop ticking.