[Editor’s Note: Below, maintaining the tradition started a year ago, we report transparently on the makeup of the GEM and touch on what we’re focused on for 2022. Since it was originally published as an article for members, many links included are to prior members-only articles, so won’t be accessible without a membership already set up.]
Collectively, the GEM is a diverse community of proptech innovators, spanning every axis… role, sector, and geography.
While the biz intel, innovation thinking, and curation are valuable, members are really here for the chance to rub shoulders with other executives making a mark on the world–so we have lofty goals to keep the GEM diverse and interesting. Progress on our priorities is occurring every day, but we are far from perfection. There is still an immense amount of work to do to realize the full potential of the GEM to make an impact.
Without further ado, maintaining the tradition started a year ago to report transparently on the makeup of the community, we bring you… the State of the GEM in 2022.
Total members: 505
…from sectors far and wide
…in varying roles
…representing locations across the globe
Before we dive in, let me note: We’re ⅓ of the way to our cap of 1,500 members. That’s quite a nice milestone. There is a delicate balance to strike—enough members for diverse ideas and networking while a small enough group for meaningful interactions. All the while maintaining the high standard of experience required to ensure everyone remains peers. At 500 members so far, I am confident that 1,500 is the right target.
We are STILL beyond well represented on the residential side. That’ll be our strength in 2022.
We added climate to the list along with several entrepreneurs to represent the category. Jared Hanley shared NatureQuant’s business thesis, and we made climate our central prediction for 2022. Check. Now, we just need to recruit a few more bold innovators working on our industry’s greatest opportunity.
Once again, it’s obvious founders are the core of this community, though that percentage is down a smidge from a year ago. And once again, I’ll say it: That won’t change as far as I can see into the horizon. Where I am hoping to see an uptick, however, is with the addition of product builders, angel investors, and academia/government to round out the unique voices in the GEM.
The top six cities remained unchanged. New York and SF/Silicon Valley are neck and neck in the top spot, Seattle is number two, followed by Los Angeles, Denver/Boulder, and Chicago. We’re committed to regular events in these locations as a member expectation.
While the desire to attract the boldest founders building portals, hardware for smart buildings/homes, and financial innovation from across the globe remained unchanged, we didn’t make much progress on recruiting geographically diverse members. The bright spot is an uptick in our Canadian segment.
We’ve ticked upward in both metrics. Rising to 15.05% from 13.6% for women, and reaching 16.04% for persons of color, up from 13.4%.
Progress. But not good enough. We’ll continue to strive for more diversity in 2022.
EVENTS / NETWORKING
2020 was meant to focus on hosting regular membership dinners and lunches across the country. 2021, same story. 2022 will be the year, for real this time. Unless Omicron or some other variant throws us into disarray again. But I refuse to believe that, foolheartedly or not.
The bright spot of 2021 was October, a month that included traveling to Blueprint and Inman Connect in Las Vegas, and CREtech NYC. Throughout the month, we hosted a 22-person VIP Dinner in partnership with Resident in NYC, two happy hours of 50+ co-hosted with Proptech Angel Group (NYC and Las Vegas), and a 50+ person Soiree in Vegas co-hosted with RealStaq.
We also played a hand with highly curated virtual events deviating from the traditional “discuss a popular industry topic,” to the tune of four virtual wine tastings in partnership with Amo Vino. They went over well, though they weren’t without some logistical challenges (for instance, shipping wines and last-minute cancellations due to schedule conflicts).
Let’s briefly look back on last year’s resolutions:
- No more comping: We implemented a new membership portal (ChargeBee). We’ve put in a ton of work behind the scenes, but haven’t gotten through our entire clean-up process yet. That said, the finish line is in our sights.
- Raising (new member) pricing: We increased prices to $129/quarter in conjunction with the new website launch in the early part of the year. Success.
- The consistent cadence of proptech networking roulette: Draw. We did a few of them, but it wasn’t a monthly staple. This stems from the fact we still haven’t been able to get over the 25 attendee mark. Maybe we should just accept that 25 is a great number, since it’s true that literally everyone who has attended has loved the rapid fire networking opportunities from the comfort of their home office.
- Consistent Biz Intel briefings: We started the Blueprinting Proptech series, but didn’t make as much progress as I’d hoped. We’ve shared the Padsplit analysis publicly as a sample, and Part IV (Rabbu) dropped last week for members.
- Dinners: 12 dinners (or more) will take place. There, I said it. Let’s roll. A dinner hosted by Debra Schwartz already took place in the Bay Area. Orlando at IBS is next up.
- In-person Opportunities: A Seattle Soiree is on the calendar in March, with a dinner to come late spring or early summer. Several events are already scheduled for Inman week, including Part III of our VIP Dinner Series in partnership with Resident. CREtech San Diego and NYC will have accompanying GEM events. And we’ll be at both Blueprint (Vegas) and iOi (LA) in September. The Bay Area, Chicago, Austin, Atlanta, and Denver are on the docket for sure. A couple of other cities will be added throughout the year.
- Diversity: We will increase diversity 5% YoY.
- Workgroups: Blockchain and Housing Affordability are the two workgroups we brewed up for 2022. We’ll focus on those two topics for the time being, but if there is another topic you feel strongly about and would like to help curate a workgroup, let us know.
- Bring back Early-State Fundraising Office Hours + Peer Practice Pitches: The majority of founders are raising capital, constantly. We need to do a better job of helping them in that incredibly difficult process. Are you a VC and interested in hosting a 45-minute session, or a founder wanting to refine your pitch with a small group of peers? Shoot us an email.
- Completion of membership clean-up: We’re committed to getting through our backlog of member migrations to ChargeBee.
- Raising (new member) pricing again: We’re going to raise prices again in Q1 to account for the community’s growth. So far, we’ve actually seen that the more people pay, the more they engage. And more revenue means we can invest deeper in organizing the bread and butter of this group: dinners and lunches.
I’ll end with a question I’ll be using a lot more going forward following my newfound obsession with Disney. What if…every proptech founder had all the connections, peer support, and business intelligence needed to propel their company to greatness?
That would be a grand day indeed. That’s our pursuit.
Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. — Steve Jobs, 1997
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