Vivian Chan, Founding President of HKPTA, on PropTech Innovation

Vivian Chan, Founding President of the Hong Kong PropTech Association (HKPTA), tells us about her journey within the organization and shares her thoughts on building a PropTech ecosystem.

Many family-owned real estate businesses in this city have not really embraced technology and digital trends, perhaps due to the traditional reliance on human resources. But to stay relevant in a fiercely competitive marketplace, they must embrace innovation.

Growing up in a long-established family that owns and operates a portfolio of offices and hotels in Hong Kong, Vivian Chan understands this necessity all too clearly. Not only that, she is also actively involved in bringing innovation to the wider real estate industry.

Viviane Chan, Founding President of the Hong Kong PropTech Association

A world traveler, lifelong learner and aspiring start-up investor, Vivian Chan has been impressed by the rapid technological advancements of recent years. “The pace of change has been so rapid that we have to be constantly on our toes,” she says. “I wanted Hong Kong and, in particular, the real estate sector to embrace more innovation and new perspectives.”

This led her to create the Hong Kong Proptech Technology Association (HKPTA) last year, an independent non-profit organization aiming to build a collaborative ecosystem bringing together real estate technology players, from real estate developers and technology companies to investors and start-ups.

The wide range of Proptech includes everything that has digitized existing processes, from how a project is planned and built, to the wide range of solutions for buyers and sellers, smart homes, property management, marketing, mortgages and even town planning.

Chan also talks about its great potential to fight climate change and contribute to sustainability, adding that the HKPTA is also driven by the goal of creating an ecosystem that can nurture new technologies, which can benefit society and contribute to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG).

Although she now has what she considers a “dream team” at the helm of her new association, Chan recalls that the first few months were not easy – in fact, the creation of a industry in early 2021 for people passionate about technology, entrepreneurship and driving substantial change in the real estate and environmental sector was a tough undertaking indeed.

During those first few months, she received polite rejections when she contacted several established players in the industry. “In hindsight,” Chan admits, “their doubts are understandable, due to the organization’s short history and a lack of understanding of the potential of proptech.”

Yet, despite initial rebuttals, she did not give up. In fact, Chan’s passion eventually impressed some of the industry’s most respected figures, who later joined the HKPTA as board members and advisors. “Without their support,” she says, “we wouldn’t have achieved what we have today. It was an amazing experience working with them as they went above and beyond the call of duty time and time again. This is an indication that they are truly dedicated to the success of the association.

The HKPTA Board of Directors is made up of a diverse group of people, each with expertise in a different area. However, all have been involved in the industry for years, and their experience and knowledge provide valuable insight. Among them is Charles To, a partner at law firm ELLALAN, who particularly focuses on law as it relates to technology, intellectual property, entertainment, blockchain and data privacy.

Rainie Pan, the association’s chief executive, comes from a management consulting background, Akina Ho is head of digital transformation at Great Eagle, James Kwan is executive director of Jumpstart, Ivan Ho is CEO of Hong Kong of KaiLong Group and Wendy Law brings her experience as Executive Director of Park Capital Group.

The association can also rely on a group of honorary advisors, including Dr. Winnie Tang, Christina Gaw, Dr. Derrick Pang, Andrew Young and several others. A year after its founding, the HKPTA now has five committees, four of which are headed by a board member. Each committee plays an influential role in its defined area, while all rely on each other in a systematic way.

The rationale for this structure is to streamline the entire start-up journey, from proof of concept to connecting with potential investors and partners, and to explore opportunities in the Greater Bay Area and beyond. “We are committed to advocating for sustainability in business strategies that ultimately create a greener environment, a more livable city, and better well-being for us and future generations,” Chan says.

To support decarbonization goals, property developers are increasingly exploring energy-saving solutions for green buildings, while considering the impact of buildings on the health and well-being of their occupants.

When it comes to customers, a new generation of technologies has improved the customer experience in many ways. There are already many smart home devices that offer comfort, convenience and energy efficiency all at the same time.

“I wanted Hong Kong and, in particular, the real estate sector to embrace more innovation and new perspectives.”

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) solutions are gaining popularity. A property can be displayed in virtual reality, allowing potential buyers to see not only what the interior design looks like, but also what it is like to live there. VR solutions can also be used in retail stores, allowing customers to explore different products before buying them.

The real estate sector is ripe for innovation. As the industry evolves, there is still plenty of room for creativity and new ideas. From planning, design and construction to facility management and customer journey, proptech is able to improve operational efficiency, sustainability and revenue. Nonetheless, challenges remain, both for real estate companies to embrace the technology and for technology companies to formulate solutions that address industry-specific pain points.

“That’s why the HKPTA was established,” says Chan, “to raise awareness among businesses of the need for digital transformation, to foster creativity and entrepreneurship among young people, and to support the business ecosystem. proptech start-up The aim is to bridge the gap between traditional real estate companies and innovative technology companies.

Vivian Chan, founding president of the Hong Kong PropTech Association
Viviane Chan, Founding President of the Hong Kong PropTech Association

Mental health is especially important for entrepreneurs because it helps them stay focused on their goals and avoid burnout. Chan understands that her own mental well-being helps her stay motivated and focused on her goals, which are essential for success.

“As long as I’ve done everything I can to make the most of the day, tomorrow is a whole new day full of possibilities and encounters. So work hard, play hard and enjoy every moment we have. Waking up every morning is a gift worth celebrating,” she says.

It also reveals a lesser-known facet of its history. Most people know her as a go-getter, an entrepreneur. But as a trained counseling psychologist, she volunteers to provide counseling services to disadvantaged families served by NGOs whenever she has free time. She knows a lot of people are going through tough times and she wants them to know they’re not alone.

Vivian Chan is a good listener. She wants people to feel heard and understood. And therein lies its charm and strength.

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