Think of one generation ago. Everyone pretty much worked their way up the corporate ladder in a couple of companies. They got married, bought a house, had kids, retired as full home owners and are now smugly sipping sangrias as I type this in a café nursing a cold, over-priced latte. As well they should. Their paths were clear, stable, they worked hard and the system (more or less) delivered on its promises.
The world today looks very different. Technology was already turning all these past realities on their heads around the time that one of the worst recessions in 100 years swept the globe. Large industry moved to low cost countries and automation followed, slashing the numbers of careers for countless people. The cost of finance and restrictions on borrowing mean fewer people can afford homes. And finally, a shaken confidence in the traditional financial industry for efficient (and trusted) capital growth to protect our investments for retirement and our kids.
We are in a perfect storm that has decimated almost all of the past truths we knew about work, living and investments. But what if the storm is starting to pass?
Although many traditional industry careers-for-life have disappeared, technology has unleashed an industry that simply didn’t exist 20 years ago. One that is very close to my heart. Technology and tech-enabled entrepreneurs and SMEs. Never before has it been easier to open and grow a business on a shoe string and those who traditionally needed to get a job as they had no alternative, now find themselves able to run a business on their own terms.
Technology start-ups in the UK increased by 60% last year with over 10,000 technology companies set up in 2017 alone.
The way we work, the way we live and the way we invest are all starting to come together, finding their place in these new societal norms.
Even with technology enabling so much of our businesses, we still want to be part of a community. This gives rise to the breakneck growth of companies like We Work who are now changing the status quo of the entire real estate industry.
As we blend the increase of entrepreneurs/SMEs with the lack of affordable housing, an obvious sector to emerge is combining the two. Instead of travelling 45 minutes in the rain to and from a yoga class after finishing work at 7pm due to a deadline, walk up the stairs from your coworking location and then walk across the road to get home.
Whether it’s crowdfunding for a simple ROI or communities buying and managing a property together, we are finding new ways to overcome affordability and lack of control over our real estate.
These new industries already exist, and their growth is strong.
What I’m excited about is the next generation of this kind of real estate and financial innovation and how these 3 areas can come together.
Imagine a community where you live, where you work and the money you spend to live and work goes into owning a fraction of that real estate. You’re not wasting money on rent, you’re not tied to a huge deposit or mortgage and you are personally vested in the success of the community as it is your home.
This is already happening in small pockets of communities with niche needs, like the residents who came together to buy their building to avoid skyrocketing prices and take charge of the success of their community.
What if we could take this concept and instead of it being a need-based niche, create an entirely new industry that turns the way we think about our work, homes and money on its head?
The best part of this is that all the ways to make this happen are already available. And technology is the great enabler that brings it all together. From building the communities of the future, to supporting the businesses of the future; all enabled by an efficient and trustworthy flow of capital to make it happen. Delivered by the community, for the community.
Maybe the blue skies from that perfect storm are starting to peek through.