Business, as we have known it, has been disrupted by technology. According to property magnate and co-founder of an online trading portal Quoin Online, Wayne van der Vent, “It’s the future consumer we need to think about.”
It took around two years to get the portal specialising in commercial, industrial and retail property sales going, as technology advances much faster than legislation can keep up.
“We want to move with the pace of technology advancement in using the system for end to end sales and acquisitions, and not just be a shop window to advertise,” Van der Vent adds. “My partner Karen Miller and I partnered with a software developer in order to continuously keep our technology up to date.”
If you’re standing outside a property in which you may be interested for purchase or rental, you no longer need to find out who the agents are and call them for information. You can access it all online and make an offer from your phone within minutes.
“This kind of paperless way of purchasing property, offered by Quoin, is what appeals to millennials (those born between 1982 and 2004) and the youth of today who are the future consumers,” according to Van der Vent.
Millennials tend to buy property to fit their needs for a specific time and if their current property no longer serves its purpose, they will look into a new property – investigating every aspect of it. Key characteristics they search for include digital walk-throughs, shared working spaces, technology and an environmental focus.
“Millennials are also far more focused on sustainable living,” he shares. “They want renewable energy, and innovative ‘green’ spaces. Technology elements like access to tech hubs, Wi-Fi coverage and fibre-optic connectivity are also attractive to them, as well as modern design elements.”
“My extensive experience in acquisition and sales stands me in good stead in terms of what we are doing now,” he further explains. “Through Quoin Online, we’ve combined traditional sales experience with an understanding of what needs to be done in the technological space to create a more forward-thinking service.”
Formerly the head of property investment for the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), he has managed the largest property portfolio in South Africa. His last transaction in his six years with the PIC, during which he grew the property investment portfolio a few million Rands worth of property to R50 billion in assets, was the purchase of the V&A Waterfront with Growthpoint.
Prior to Quoin and the PIC, Van der Vent was a fund manager for Futuregrowth where he built up the Community Property Fund, having started it in the mid-to-late nineties. He was also chairman of Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), notably through the development in the run up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
But constantly travelling and not seeing his three children nearly enough was the push Van der Vent needed to set off on his own venture – and launch into the digital space. And more time with his children, in part, has inspired his journey to move with technology.
“My 16 year old daughter doesn’t go to a shop to buy music or movies. The idea is foreign to her. The way she understands business is the way businesses need to be moving,” he shares. “She wants the virtual tour, transparency and information at the click of a button – essentially the ability to make an offer online at any time of day that suits her.”
“The way we build spaces these days doesn’t always speak to how we live. For whatever purpose – business or leisure – the property industry will remain constant because we will always need a space: a roof over our heads,” Van der Vent concludes. “But it won’t always be as straightforward, as cellular, as it is today – we won’t be looking for those spaces by walking into the office of an estate agent.”