Technology at Fort Capital
“When I look for inspiration, I don’t go look at other real estate companies.”
— Chris Powers
We are a real estate investment company, and the crux of our business is real estate, but when we think about where our company will be in 20 years, it’s not that real estate isn’t a part of it, it’s just maybe sometimes our desire isn’t to be the biggest real estate company ever. There are more things that we want to accomplish, and we look at real estate as the horse that will get us there. What we think will accelerate growth, where we’re seeing a ton of opportunities, and an opportunity for us to really continue separating ourselves from the pack, is through technology.
Behind the scenes, we’re working on ways that Fort, through time, will become as much of a technology company as it is a real estate company. It doesn’t mean we’re not doing real estate and we’re selling software; it just means the way we function as a company is how a lot of people envision a tech business functioning. We’ve been working on things in machine learning and artificial intelligence, we white boarded yesterday—if we showed you an org chart, you would have thought you were looking at a tech business. Five years from now, we could have as many employees in tech as we do in real estate.
The key is that the world is changing at a rate that most people aren’t even aware of, and they can’t almost even comprehend the rate at which things are changing. We understand very clearly that if we’re not preparing for that inevitability, we’re just not going to be set up for success the way we could be. Since we know that today, we can go ahead and start taking action and putting things in place like F.O.S., our own operating system to implement artificial intelligence, machine learning, and get this thing set up so that it is adaptable, agile, and can move in the future unlike what most real estate companies or any investment company will be able to do compared to what we’re thinking about.
When we think about where the future is going and how this company is going to 10x, it’s taking these steps today that are going to put us in a position to be able to capitalize on the future, which we believe most people can’t see. We’re not fortune-tellers, we can’t see it all either, but we see things that are coming that we can take action on today, which will give us a huge advantage, and we’re doing it.
When I look for inspiration on how to grow this company, I don’t go look at other real estate companies. To be honest with you, I make it a point not to. Real estate has been, traditionally, just a slower-moving game. Not as focused on innovation. When I’m looking for inspiration or for what are best practices, I pretty much look at every industry but real estate to find that. Again, the biggest opportunity in real estate right now is tech. There’s a ton of innovation happening. I respect an immense amount of our peers and the companies we have, but when I’m thinking about growing this company, it’s not looking around at a bunch of real estate companies going, “How do we be more like them?” It’s looking at Amazon and Google saying, “How do we become more like them, and what does that mean in a real estate environment?”
I was saying it earlier, I’m 100% cool with most people not understanding what the hell we’re doing for a long period of time. If everybody understood what we’re doing, then we’re not doing anything that’s cutting edge. We’re not even trying to be cutting edge. We’re just saying we believe this is where the world is headed and dammit, we want to be there when it happens, and we want to be at the front of it.