Preparing for the Future in a Slow-Moving Industry

Stan Zaslavsky knows the future — or at least the part that new tech will play in the real estate industry. For Stan and his team of 3D imagery specialists, however, just because it's new doesn't mean you should immediately hitch your wagon to that star.

WORKetc Eagle Vision Property

Businesses usually spring up where there are gaps in the marketplace. Take WORKetc, for example. The lack of easily available and complete business management tools for small businesses was a particularly egregious gap, and so we stepped up to fill it.

Stan Zaslavsky saw a similar gap in the marketplace. Throughout his years of working in property development, he noticed that there were only two extremes when it came to marketing property developments.

“One area was where overseas suppliers were supplying 3D imagery cheaply, but operating with them was extremely risky because of communication barriers and all sorts of issues,” he explains.

“On the other side, there were a handful of high-end 3D visualization companies in Australia that were producing really high-quality work but had priced them rather prohibitively at $4,000 upwards per image.

“I thought there probably should be a way to create a bit of middle ground,” he recalls.

Just like any number of successful entrepreneurs, he didn’t wait for somebody else to come along. In 2008, he founded Eagle Vision Property and filled that gap himself, taking the best aspects of the two extremes and turning it into a 3D imagery company that’s on the verge of hitting the 400-project mark since starting up.

The 24-hour micro-multinational

On the surface, Eagle Vision is just like any other company in its industry. Project developers hire it to either create stunning 3D visuals of proposed developments or planning-level-accurate composite images — Stan says they call them “photo-montages” — of future properties. Those images are then used to secure approval from either the local government council or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

What sets the company apart is the strong operational process that Stan and his team have built. Their projects typically have tight deadlines (the 3D images have to be sent to the council and everyone else involved at least 28 days before the hearing) compounded by constant requests for changes from the architect or the property developer.

“What I wanted to achieve was an operation that could take advantage of time instead of being weighed down by it,” Stan says. “What we now have is a dedicated team of render artists all around the world in different time zones. We’re now essentially a micro-multinational company operating non-stop.

“This is where our real advantage lies. We’re doing things simultaneously, and we’re effectively working on a project 24 hours a day.” The image below, for example, was knocked out in record time—a mere seven days.

worketc-eagle-vision-02-thumbClick for full view.

“Sometimes we’re working under intense pressure, where if we were to work within our given timeframe and do everything locally, it just would not be possible,” he continues.

“The keys to it are that the risks and variables are taken out as much as possible and as quickly as possible. We’re dealing with so many stakeholders: we’ve got the clients, the architects, the planner, barristers that might have opinions, and all of their opinions need to be satisfied.”

The brains of the operation

As you can imagine, close communication with their clients is vital to Eagle Vision’s continued success. To help keep track of everything they need for each project they take on, Stan and his team turned to WORKetc.

“WORKetc is essentially our brain,” Stan declares. “Before WORKetc entered the picture, I had to deal with a CRM and a project management system—we tried a whole lot of them. I had two completely separate operational systems: CRM was in one place, project management was in another.

“I also used a lot of Google Docs and Dropbox, and all these sort of different technologies, but nothing was really integrating together. It was a matter of coming up with a system that let us combine as many apps or functionalities as we could so we could operate at a much faster pace.”

WORKetc let them combine those key elements of CRM and project management. As Stan explains, the app helps Eagle Vision streamline the whole process from start to finish without their having to operate on separate systems.

“With the Gantt chart, we can see the process, we can set up critical milestones, we can set up how the whole thing needs to be turned around, and then we can identify stages where we can optimize those areas that can be optimized to speed them up.

“We’ve also recently gotten onto G Suite, so all the emails that are coming back from our clients into our Gmail systems, we can attach them into either the leads or the projects so that multiple team members can view operations at different stages of the process.

“Imagine a large seven- or eight-storey apartment tower that has a lot of stakeholders. There’ll be a lot of different comments from different people. Everybody’s got a voice; everybody’s got an opinion. The Gmail widget helps us keep track of all of these.”

WORKetc Eagle Vision Property

Fast-paced company in a slow-moving industry

No bones about it: Eagle Vision is a digital company. This presents an interesting dichotomy for Stan and his team, however: they’re positioned right in the middle of a space where the fast-paced digital world intersects with the slow-moving behemoth that is the real estate industry.

“I’ve been around the computer space for a long, long time,” Stan says. “The digital space changes very fast. Real estate, on the other hand, doesn’t. Real estate is a very slow moving industry. However, the space that we’re in is a bit of a blend between digital and technology and real estate at the same time, so we need to be able to adapt to the changing needs and demographics of the buyers for different developments by providing the right technological solution.”

According to Stan, the “right technological solution” is shaping up to be something that gamers all over the world have been waiting for for years: augmented and virtual reality.

Stan points to the video above, which showcases the animation side of Eagle Vision’s expertise, to illustrate the different levels of interactivity that he believes will be key to the future of the real estate industry.

“That video is a combination of drone videography, animated CGI, lifestyle videography—and all of that had to be composed by a director, together with a music track behind it,” he explains.

“It’s not interactive at all; it’s guided and storyboarded, all that kind of stuff. The next level up is when technology will bring solutions that allow the user or buyer in whatever age group to go to a new development —be it a website, a mobile app, or a display suite—and be able to view the interior of a project interactively.”

A virtual reality future

Just last month, the eagerly awaited Oculus Rift finally debuted on store shelves. Sony, Samsung, and others each have their own virtual reality gadgets being prepped for release this year. Does this mean 2016 is the year VR conquers the real estate industry? Not exactly, says Stan.

“VR is going to come in, but at the moment most developers that are trying out VR are doing it as more of a gimmick,” he says. “They’re not really using it as a proper sales tool, because the current demographic of buyers are not really able to understand the virtual environment, unlike the generation that has grown up with 3D games. In reality, we can still show the space much better using 3D still imagery than a virtual reality environment.

“I think the time frame is still about two to three years away for the market to start demanding a VR solution. At the moment, it’s more for saying, ‘Look at me, I’ve got this cool trick.’ They need to have effective tools, not gimmicks that might do something.”

That said, it’s not as if Stan and his team are writing VR off as just another fad. Far from it, actually.

“It’s absolutely on our radar, of course,” he emphasizes. “We’ve looked at it quite heavily. I’ve looked at augmented reality and a lot of other related tech within that space. I have a reasonable understanding of that tech right now.

“I think VR and AR will be at some stage really important tools for marketing and projects. It’s just that right now the market isn’t ready for it. They’re not asking for it just yet. But as more and more developers start to try that thing out and see how it works…

“It’s not quite there yet. Like I said, it’s probably about two or three years away until the market says, ‘You know what, without that tool we’re not going to buy your product.’

“And when that time comes, Eagle Vision will be ready to swoop in.”

Lessons Learned

  • Want to start your own business? Take advantage of gaps in the market.
  • Build a strong operational foundation. Take risks and variables out as much as possible and as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t be too hasty with adopting new technology. Do your due diligence. Not everything new is applicable to a given industry.
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