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HB News & Events

Welcome to Catalyst 2019!

We're sharing the best of our annual conference Catalyst 2019 over the next few weeks. First up, our CEO & Co-Founder, Riggs Kubiak.

Once Upon A Time

Riggs Kubiak on conversation with former Vancouver BC Mayor Gregor Robertson

In his keynote at Catalyst 2019, Venture Capitalist & Author Scott Hartley recalled his first meeting the Honest Buildings team in 2012 when it was four people in one room with a whiteboard. His comment stood in stark contrast to the 200 leading real estate owners assembled together in lower Manhattan to hear from Lisa Picard, President and CEO of EQ Office, former Vancouver, BC Mayor Gregor Robertson, and leaders from Brookfield, Oxford, Prudential, Hines, Bentall Kennedy, Lasalle, Beacon, First Capital Realty, The We Company, Catalyst co-sponsor Convene, Industrious, and many more.

The collaboration and sharing of ideas encapsulates the rapidly growing Honest Buildings community which gathers from all over the world each year at Catalyst in New York City.

A Shift in Perspective

About 10 years before founding Honest Buildings, I started my career in commercial real estate finance, focused almost exclusively on the transactional elements of real estate; pure-play getting deals done via acquisitions and dispositions. I spent nearly 10 years focused on transactions and asset management of large commercial buildings between my roles at Ernst & Young, Granite Partners (now Savills) and Tishman Speyer.

Looking back, I value every moment I spent in that transactional world. However, what’s changed most is the shift in my perspective, widening to truly appreciate not just the enormous amounts of capital spent in real estate, but how incredible the teams of people are that collaborate to build things together. Not just ground up construction of big buildings, but also spaces where people gather to work, eat, play, sweat, do yoga, and get things done. In addition to the physical space builders, I also now have a deep appreciation for the company builders, founders, CEOs, executives, and leaders that bring people together each day to achieve their collective visions.


We Get to Do This Everyday

Each day at Honest Buildings, we are humbled by our opportunity to enable the largest owners, operators, and occupiers of the built world to execute on their building and project visions through extraordinarily collaborative teamwork; from each owner to each general contractor and subcontractor working on projects to get them completed. The owner’s role in this collaborative process is to create a vision for the space, find capital partners to fund the project and then assemble the team to complete it. Interestingly enough, those are three things that every CEO must do to be successful: have a great vision, find capital partners to fund it, and most importantly, assemble a great team to execute on the vision. Without these three things, the vision never becomes a reality for the project or the company.

We utilized that collaborative spirit to build out our platform. It was hard to believe that the nearly $12 trillion spent on construction each year continued to rely upon analog processes that hadn’t been updated in decades. I made it my personal mission to change this industry. I watched so many projects go over budget before our platform and felt the joy of watching projects complete, like Convene’s newest One Liberty space, the site of our conference this year, which was completed in partnership with nearly 40 vendors working with Convene and Brookfield to complete the 93,000, four floor buildout in just under a year.

Spend and Impact

Projects like Convene’s One Liberty space are taking place all around us, in New York City, across the US, and around the world. Each impacts the way that we interact with the built environment. Real estate owners and fast-growing companies are more conscious than ever not only of their spend but also their impact on the communities. More importantly, they are becoming increasingly aware of the people interacting with the projects they complete.

If you’re a commercial real estate owner, you likely have common stories to tell about projects that have been more complicated than originally imagined, projects taken to completion despite the challenges, and that feeling of pride when new lobbies were unveiled or tenants moved into their stunning new spaces.

We Are Connected

That feeling, that knowledge, and connection to how your projects impact others is what joined us all together at Catalyst 2019.

So, what lies ahead of us? With so much innovation in PropTech, there might not be sufficient space for every existing entity within every distinct niche.  With rapid proliferation come options and narrow specialization. Who will evolve to stay atop of rapidly shifting landscape?

Catalyst 2019 TakEaways

We may not have all the answers, but there were common threads that emerged from conversations at Catalyst 2019. What were the major takeaways?

1. We have overcome the need to evangelize about PropTech. Most everyone in our industry understands that it is mission-critical to scalability and the capacity to respond to a rapidly changing landscape. We have entered the Age of Adoption. The question is no longer, “do I need PropTech.” What we now ask is “how can PropTech best be deployed?”

2. You will hear more about Big Data, AI, and Machine Learning, but it will never be optimized without humans. People will always be the heart of organizations. Leveraging technology will differentiate them, but never replace them. We will always need experience and ingenuity. Technology provides the capacity to get there faster, more efficiently, and with greater value.

We Build Technology That Empowers 

It is Honest Buildings’ mission to build technology that empowers owners and their teams to manage projects and the capital that funds them across the globe. We think about the same things our customers do, all day, every day - creating value.  

Just as we partnered with Convene by providing them the software to track the build-out of this amazing space in which we celebrated Catalyst 2019, we partner with owners and fast-growing companies across the world on their projects - all of which impact the built environment, and in turn, our everyday lives.

We consider ourselves fortunate to have partners who allow us to build a continually evolving platform and an amazing team that uses their tenacious, innovative and curious nature in executing on our mission together.  As long as the built world continues to evolve, so will we continue adapting to support it.




Riggs Kubiak

Written by Riggs Kubiak

Riggs Kubiak is the Co-Founder and CEO of Honest Buildings. Prior to Honest Buildings, Riggs worked in asset management, acquisitions, and global sustainability for Tishman Speyer.

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