In our latest real estate tech entrepreneur interview, we’re speaking with William Sankey from Northspyre.
Without further ado…
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is William Sankey and I am the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Northspyre, a cloud-based intelligence platform that arms real estate development teams and their collaborators with proactive, data-driven insights that predict the effects of planned and unplanned changes on overall project costs and timelines.
My background is in commercial real estate. I used to be a developer and project lead for firms including Madison Realty Capital, Macklowe Properties and Jones Lang LaSalle. I worked on high-profile, multimillion-dollar ground-up developments and major renovations across the city. Through this experience, I learned that the commercial real estate industry was still extremely reliant on convoluted, error-prone spreadsheets and gut instincts to make decisions that have major implications on project costs and timelines. Also, there was no easy way to harness the treasure trove of current and historical project data to make project delivery easier and more predictable over time. So, I learned to code in my spare time and used this knowledge to automate some of my more manual, day-to-day administrative tasks as a developer. These programs informed my vision of how the industry could be transformed by automation and other technologies, and that laid the foundation for Northspyre.
What problem does your product/service solve?
Northspyre transforms project delivery, replacing developers’ gut instincts and disparate spreadsheet data with proactive decision-making technology that leverages digital dashboards, searchable project data that has been smartly indexed, and robotic intelligence to report on a project’s finances, vendors, and timeline. Northspyre helps developers and their collaborators anticipate and plan for any potential challenges or opportunities that may arise during the development process, and allow them to pivot quickly. These automated, proactive insights are generated using advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence. To date, the industry has relied heavily on institutional knowledge and manual data analysis to make important project decisions, which are difficult when the information that informs these decisions is siloed, error-prone and not updated in real-time. Relying on traditional, manual work flows stagnates productivity during the development process, resulting in reactive, less informed decision-making.
Northspyre upends the status quo so that development teams can collaborate remotely and make data-driven decisions when reviewing a vendor’s proposal or negotiating a change order – decisions that can drastically alter a project’s overall budget. It also saves hours that highly compensated developers spend on administrative work and reporting. Northspyre brings predictability to commercial real estate development, increasing efficiency and productivity, and driving better returns.
One client in the southeast is using Northspyre on a near-half-billion-dollar mixed-use development project to be more flexible and proactive. Our software allows the development team to collaborate remotely, eliminate manual data entry, upload and keep track of thousands of invoices into one cloud-based dashboard, expedite monthly cost reporting, and provide real-time visibility into the project’s budget and progress for better, more informed decision-making. This new proxy for collaboration established a single source of truth for the team to operate from and is enabling them to execute on this project within its set budget and timeline – even in the midst of the pandemic
What are you most excited about right now?
I’m humbled by Northspyre’s ability to help development teams deliver projects in the current market so that they can continue building, collaborating and innovating while working remotely. Northspyre has played a very important – albeit unexpected – role in keeping the lights on for development firms and internal real estate teams this year as the industry wrestles with lockdowns and other repercussions brought on by the pandemic.
There’s no question that this unprecedented situation has challenged commercial development teams across the board, but it’s also proving to be a vital time of transformation for many industries. I’m most excited that Northspyre will continue to help this industry – which holds a special place in my heart – get back on its feet and equip project teams with the data and insights they need to confidently address future challenges and changes that will inevitably arise – pandemic or not. It’s exciting to be a part of the technology boom in CRE and see previously tech-averse real estate teams embrace the advanced digital technology that other high-skilled industries (like modern manufacturing and finance) have leveraged for years, with great success. There is a clear appetite for software purpose-built for developers, and we’re motivated to serve the innovative thinkers in our industry who are leading the charge.
What’s next for you?
Northspyre is growing and we have big plans for the future. We saw our highest-ever user engagement this year and grew our staff to more than 30 employees to meet increased customer demand. We’re continuously bettering our software and services to reflect feedback we get directly from our customers. We consider ourselves an extension of our customers’ teams, and we take that role very seriously.
A specific area of focus for us is expanding our enterprise customer base, especially those completing ground-up developments or build-outs regularly with no way to access past project insights that could help them benchmark vendor costs and other key data points to mitigate risk. Earlier this year, we announced the launch of our Portfolio Analytics suite, which was built specifically for this purpose.
What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
I’ve always been very interested in social and environmental sustainability in the context of global cities. This goes beyond real estate development for me; it’s more about how we ensure the places we live, work and play meet the needs of all people, without compromising our environment – how to reduce waste; how to be equitable; how to solve for food deserts or lack of public transportation; how to promote community and share ideas that effect change. This theme is an undercurrent in my daily life and impacts the way I make decisions. I am always thinking about ways to improve quality of life for the majority and how I can contribute to the greater good.
Thanks to William for sharing his story. If you’d like to connect, find him on LinkedIn here.
We’re constantly looking for great real estate tech entrepreneurs to feature. If that’s you, please read this post — then drop us a line (Community @ geekestatelabs dot com).