Tech Trends: What's in Store for 2022

From an innovation standpoint, the past couple of years were full of dramatic and transformational change and we do not expect 2022 to be any different. We’re particularly excited about the changes happening in PropTech, Health and Wellness, and Retail, as we have been busy engaging new clients in all of these verticals.

PropTech

In PropTech, we expect to see continued emphasis placed on the use of technologies that help customers and businesses visualize and experience their spaces in the digital world (e.g., AR/VR, visualization, advanced 3D rendering). During 2021, we saw the rise of virtual Real Estate as the wider world was introduced to metaverse platforms like Decentraland and The Sandbox, and our opinion is that this was just the start. We believe that advances in AI will allow this evolution to proliferate even faster as development engines and deep-learning algorithms are able to take user-specified metrics and requirements and automatically generate robust designs and finished building environments.

Take our current client Qbiq as an example. The Company utilizes proprietary AI and advanced rendering techniques to design finished office floor plans in minutes, uniquely tailored to a customer’s specific needs. With private investments in PropTech up 28% YoY, this sector is going to continue to explode and Bizydev’s expertise in real estate positions us perfectly to take advantage.

Health & Wellness

On the Health and Wellness front, we know that remaining healthy will remain a top priority for people in 2022 as we cautiously emerge from the COVID19 pandemic. While we could focus on a variety of trends here, we are most excited about the opportunities in the realm of connectedness, on both an interpersonal and technological basis, particularly as we see more and more people transition to remote-work-friendly lifestyles. Ecosystems that enable and support distributed communities by allowing users to stay connected around the globe, interact with specialists and professionals, compete with their friends to achieve goals, and the like, will ultimately lead to better outcomes across an array of disciplines (e.g., fitness, mental health, weight management).

Supporting this will be the continued proliferation of smart, connected devices that enhance the health and wellness experience in the home and provide users useful and impactful data. Whether it be connected fitness (iFIT), smart sleep systems (Eight Sleep), or fitness trackers (Whoop, Oura), we are now able to gain real-time insights concerning all aspects of our daily well-being and performance. It won’t be far off until we see the interconnectedness taken to the next level whereby these devices are all able to communicate and exchange data with one another, effectively comprising a single, holistic platform empowering individuals to live healthy and productive lives with minimal effort.

Retail

For Retail, we anticipate that the convergence between brick-and-mortar and digital channels will accelerate as the broader use of in-store automation and contextual analytics at the edge bring us closer to a unified, and highly-personalized, omnichannel shopping experience. Throughout 2021 and already into 2022, we have seen big-box retailers like Walmart, BestBuy, and Walgreens launch internal retail media networks to capitalize on the burgeoning “store as a medium” opportunity–think targeted ads on digital signage as you pass by or individualized promotions pushed to your phone while shopping all driven by customer datasets comprised of comprehensive in-store and online data–which has been enabled by these new technologies.

Another embodiment of this trend can be seen in the work being done by our client Brik+Clik, who is shaping the future of retail by bringing the convenience of online while allowing consumers to touch, feel, taste and try-on their favorite brands in a real-world environment. The benefit to the shopper is clear, but Brik+Clik is also changing the game for D2C online brands who now have a capital-light, data-driven, white-glove alternative to establishing their own physical retail presence. Instead of Location, Location, Location, for physical retailers, it’s becoming Data, Data, Data.


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Think Twice Before the BCC

Bizydev’s founding was rooted in the idea that business development as a service was an underdeveloped and underappreciated resource in the early stage startup market. Whether companies get their growth and acceleration advice internally or externally (from a source of capital, advisor, marketing/PR firm, etc.), we’ve also come to see that business development can often be overlooked or half-assed. It takes an enormous amount of strategy and effort to expand your reach and market position quickly and correctly.

We work with our clients to service every one of their business development needs and in that effort, one of our most important responsibilities is making new connections for them. We help our clients by providing them with introductions to new customers, strategic partners, capital sources, and others, in a constant quest to build out the pipeline.

As we’ve seen quite often, though, once we make these introductions by email, our clients have been tempted to either remove us from the conversation or “BCC” us. That’s honestly the last thing we want or would expect.

We’re all about B2B relationships and fostering connectivity, but we’re committed to the total success of our clients and want to see these collaborations come to life and flourish at the same time. If you move us from “CC” to “BCC”, you’re limiting the full impact we can bring to the table.

We want to stay engaged with our clients and provide guidance around the customers and partners we bring to the table because we approach business development as more than just an introduction. Biz dev isn’t just about initial meetings, it’s about goals and objectives. We want you to CC us so that we can monitor and steer your business towards those goals. We can’t do that from the sideline. Bizydev wants its clients to consult us on any issue or question pertaining to growth so that they feel like we are truly just an extension of their company and not an outsourced accelerant. 

So, going forward, don’t worry about cluttering our inboxes. Include us and consult us throughout the process because that’s what we’re here for.


CIScount: The Evolution of Pricing Retail Space

Not too long ago, the only retail space was physical retail space – commonly and misleadingly referred to as “brick-and-mortar.” These spaces range from high-end boutiques to big-box stores to everything in between.

Today, there are two types of retail space: the physical retail space and the virtual retail space – aka the websites and mobile applications where so much of modern commerce takes place. Stakeholders value retail space, regardless of whether it’s physical or virtual, because it provides a venue for customer decision-making, brand loyalty-building, the showcasing of products, and the selling of goods.

However, most methods the real estate industry uses for deriving physical retail space value don’t take virtual transactions into account. Instead, they base physical retail pricing exclusively on transactions that are completed inside the physical store. Traditional retail leases utilize either base rent (which is supply and demand oriented) or percentage rent (where a landlord takes a certain percentage of in store sales), which are generally not adapting well to the age of virtual space.

These methods don’t necessarily recognize where new value creation opportunities exist or spaces where value already exists that is not being captured. Commercial real estate stakeholders including retailers, real estate owners, investors, lenders, and brokers who are all involved in structuring leases are all negatively impacted by this problem.

Quantifying the value of physical retail space is especially important in the post-COVID real estate market. During the pandemic, traditional retailers pivoted, enhanced their digital presences, and found a new balance between virtual and physical retail spaces. In the post-COVID world, most retailers who were not able to adjust to changing times either broke their leases, went out of business, or both. As a result, there is now a greater amount of vacant retail space in the marketplace than there has been in more than a decade.

But change is on the horizon. New systems for pricing retail real estate are gaining popularity.

One new method, CIScount, measures customers-in-store via technological innovations such as in-store foot traffic trackers. CIScount is an innovative way of determining retail rent that can work better than either traditional base rent calculations (which have fairly fixed methodologies) or percentage rent calculations (which have difficulty in attribution).

CIScount is inspired by Bizydev’s work with client Dor Technologies, who have developed a cost effective thermal sensing, battery-operated, peel & stick foot traffic counter for retail stores.

Bizydev, which created CIScount, actively works with clients in the PropTech and Retail sectors on business development and growth initiatives. Co-founder Jonathan Fishman has a long history of creating value and growth opportunities for partners in the real estate sphere and of utilizing technology to help traditional industry norms evolve.

Here’s a little bit about what Bizydev sees around the corner:

Better Determining The Value of Physical Retail Space

Steve Dennis, author of the 2021 book Remarkable Retail, notes that digital channels are now a key part of the consumer’s journey. However, Dennis notes that--contrary to the naysayers--people are still shopping in stores.

Even after the disruptive year of 2020, when many customers switched to digital venues, customers still flock to retail stores for practical (seeing products in person, returning purchases, in-store only sales) and experiential (having an experience they can’t have at home or remotely) reasons. This means that in 2021 and beyond, stakeholders must understand just how interconnected virtual and physical retail spaces are.

For traditional commercial real estate stakeholders, the ultimate measure of valuing retailer health was the correlation between base rent, exterior foot traffic, and gross in-store sales. However, with the rise of virtual spaces, traditional metrics for understanding physical space wellness like exterior foot traffic have been thrown by the wayside.

Furthermore, gross sales are increasingly unrealistic for determining physical retail value because we live in a post-omnichannel world. Customers frequently begin their purchase journey in physical retail spaces before completing their transaction virtually, and vice-versa. But this customer behavior doesn’t necessarily translate into how commercial real estate is priced and valued.

While today’s retailers generally understand the impact of customer value on their virtual space, they may not understand the impact of customer value on their physical space. Retailers working in virtual spaces are better able to determine customer acquisition cost, and price their online advertising and marketing spend in systematic and deliberate ways. By comparison, most of the lease structure methodologies used for physical retail pricing don’t afford retailers or retail owners the same flexibility that exists in the online world.

Despite the fact that 71% of shoppers spend more time in physical retail space versus virtual ones (First Insight, 2019), accurately tracking in-store foot traffic, customer in-store behavior, and in-store decision-making has been extremely difficult until relatively recently. But thanks to technological advances like Dor, it is far easier.

This is especially important in the contemporary retail real estate landscape as retailers and landlords determine new rent lease payment structures that they believe better aligns with each of their interests. In 2020, many retail leases were modified to accommodate the pandemic situation by replacing base rent with percentage rent as the premier methodology for calculating rent payment.

For instance, the Wall Street Journal says retailers and landlords are currently clashing over the definition of a “sale” with customers increasingly browsing in-store but completing purchases online. Landlords who modified leases and thought they had drafted the right lease language were surprised to see shortcomings in their attribution methods due to omnichannel.

However, CIScount helps resolve this shortcoming by striking a better balance between physical and virtual retail spaces. While existing metrics and pricing models used in virtual spaces already take conversion rates and non-converting online traffic into account, CIScount is a physical metric equivalent that helps determine both visitor activity and true customer lifetime value. As a metric for lease pricing, it works well for both sides and provides added flexibility for the post-COVID world.

The CIScount not only has the potential to add to gross sales measured by a store’s POS, but also represents future sales for both physical and virtual retail spaces. Whereas an individual store’s gross sales represent just POS sales and nothing more, the CIScount applies to future sales across all of the retailer’s spaces whether physical or virtual. CIScount is simple, straight-forward and not subject to negotiation, interpretation and differing interpretations.

According to retail real estate lawyer Buddy Flateman, landlords and retailers have been struggling for years attempting to properly value retail real estate.  While “sales volume” will always be the defining metric, there is an awakening of a new generation of retail professionals to the dual facts that (1) physical retail space and virtual retail space not only play on the same team, but need each other to generate sales, and (2) it is no longer possible to pinpoint how, when and where these sales are generated.  So while store sales were once a fairly precise measure of the value of physical retail space, that measure is today not only inaccurate but often misleading.  And though CIScount may not tell the whole “value story”, it will not only tell an awful lot on its very first day, but tell more and more over time as retailers learn to correlate the CIScount with their other value metrics.  And moreover, just like POS sales figures from our “prehistoric” past, CIScount is straightforward math – there is no argument over definition or audit over application.

CISCount, Physical and Virtual Retail Spaces

Traditionally, retail foot traffic has been measured outside stores and not inside stores. Heavy foot traffic on busy urban avenues or in shopping malls is viewed as a reliable estimation tactic for customers going in and out of stores, but in-store foot traffic has not generally been used as a metric for retailers or real estate owners determining rent pricing.

Technical innovations change that. Dor’s product, for instance, is a thermal sensing, battery-operated foot traffic counter with peel-and-stick backing for easy installation in retail stores. Retailers place Dor sensors above their entryways, and the sensors then track foot traffic into the store. Depending on individual customer needs, users can track foot traffic stats and trends across store locations, track conversion rates (via simple one click integrations with most POS systems) for purchases based on day or time, and combine Dor’s data with other retail tools. In addition, CIScount data can be shared by retailers and real estate owners so both can better understand the current health of a store and forecast potential rent for the month.

This applies in a wide range of physical retail settings. For instance, Bizydev has a close relationship with Storefront, a company which matches brands with temporary physical spaces.  Both established and newer direct-to-consumer brands selling primarily over the internet have found pop-up stores useful for both generating buzz on social media platforms and boosting sales from customers who would otherwise be on the fence. For pop-up tenants pricing temporary spaces, CIScount is a methodology which can emphasize customer exposure or experiential marketing as opposed to in-store sales.

CIScount in pop-up use cases is especially useful because temporary store openings are often just as much about presence and marketing as they are about selling products in the physical space. If an Ecommerce brand leases a pop-up space for an in-person experience, stakeholders using CIScount are the most equipped to understand the value of a customer-in-store.

As retailers head into a post-omnichannel future where virtual and physical retail spaces integrate seamlessly and delineating specific channels becomes challenging, CIScount makes it easier to price commercial rent and gain market traction.

In addition to retail real estate valuation, Flateman finds an even more compelling justification to focus on CIScount:  A new universe of operating information for the retailer.  For example, CIScount will facilitate decisions involving staffing levels, efficacy of store management and personnel, marketing efforts, signage, store appearance, and merchandise offerings.

As the retail real estate market rebounds post-COVID, value-add acquirers of real estate could end up valuing properties with CIScount-based retail leases in place in a unique way. Instead of underwriting rental growth simply tied to fixed escalations or market improvement, a new owner could project various creative marketing strategies they could implement to drive more customers to the stores and ultimately generate more lease revenue.

Methodologies like CIScount allow retailers and real estate owners to both test out new marketing strategies for driving customers into stores and allow creative teams to retrofit their stores in ways that make brand presences more experiential.

Fixing the Attribution Problem

The retail and real estate industries are at a crossroads where both must find solutions that better align with their interests. CIScount creates that balance, meaning that brands which have calculated the value of a customer online can now begin to determine the value of a customer in store.

Naturally, physical retail isn’t going anywhere. Customers want to touch, try on, and experience merchandise in-person. This has always been physical retail’s advantage, and will always be something that draws customers in. That said, using CIScount, stakeholders can negotiate retail rent which more accurately reflects the value of their properties.

Bizydev is at the forefront of introducing new concepts and methodologies that allow the retail and real estate industry to evolve and adapt. Our work with clients centers on helping technology, product, and service companies accelerate growth and develop the right types of opportunities. We'd love to find ways to work with your organization.


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Emotional Intelligence and Business Development

Judging from my short stint as an associate at a business development firm, this industry is not for the introverted or antisocial. It requires, most principally, the ability to communicate and connect with people across different sectors and over different platforms. If you’re unwilling to do so, you probably won’t make it very far. The business development industry is fundamentally an industry of connections. Thus, successful examples of business development most often come from people willing to engage with others. 

But, there are millions of extroverts around the world, so what separates the best communicators from the average? The answer: emotional intelligence. Naturally, everyone would like to think that they’re as emotionally intelligent as they can be and that they possess all the skills necessary to be a great communicator. In many cases, unfortunately, their self-images are overstated. True emotional intelligence is not only the ability to read, understand, and react to other people’s emotions, but it’s the ability to analyze your own emotions and reign them in or properly convey them.

It seems obvious where these skills would play into business development. In an industry where establishing relationships and networking is paramount to your success, a high level of emotional intelligence is almost a shortcut to the finish line. So shouldn’t a skill that can minimize miscommunication issues, endear you to a necessary business connection, and help you analyze your own goals be developed as much as, if not more than any other skill? I think so.

If you choose to believe that emotional intelligence is a quality that is necessary to successful business relationships, then you might also be wondering how you can improve it. I have found that the best way to develop your emotional intelligence is practice. Make more deliberate efforts to reach out to potential connections, have more coffee chats, attend more conferences. And, while you do so, be mindful of your own behavior. Take note of how you phrase things, make an effort to show that you’re listening, even making eye contact will help you better understand your counterpart. The misconception that emotional intelligence is simply the ability to read others is where most people fall short. Self-awareness is key to productive relationships, and it needs to be a quality more present in the business world. 

Emotional intelligence is an important part of Bizydev’s approach to their service. We maintain that sincere, mutually beneficial partnerships are key to business growth in any industry. By ensuring that our relationships and the relationships that we help establish between other firms are conducted with a high degree of emotional intelligence, we are setting ourselves and our associates on a path to success.


Virtual Reality

From Virtual to Reality

As the world makes the shift away from Zoom meetings and back to in-person activities, the adjustments that we’ve made to our business strategies over the last year and a half will likely be tossed to the wind by most people. Why shouldn’t they be? After all, living room couch to corporate board room isn’t a natural switch. I would posit, however, that we should not overlook the lessons that working and living online for such a long time has taught us.

In the first place, being able to jump from meeting to meeting without leaving your chair has probably taught us some valuable time management skills. It may have taught you that you can squeeze more into a day than you had previously thought possible. Or, maybe it taught you that you need the commute time in between activities to clear your head, gather your thoughts, and prepare for the next meeting. 

Personally, working online has taught me that I need to do a better job of structuring my time. I learned the hard way that online scheduling tools don’t include regular lunch breaks, but also that thirty minutes is all you really need to both connect with someone and brainstorm with them about business. Each of these lessons guided my work habits to a more productive place, and will be valuable as I return to in-person activities. But, not everyone has to come away with some profound wisdom about their time management skills, just analyze the parts of your day that you enjoy and see what you can do to continue them when you’re back in the office.

And, as we return to some semblance of normalcy, we’ll also have to consider how the relationships we’ve formed and maintained over the course of the pandemic will change. If you got a new job, hired new coworkers, or made any sort of connection lately, their perceptions of you are likely informed by the virtual images that you have presented to them. That means your clothes, your cluttered desk, and your kitchen cabinets that have been in the background of your Zooms could be most of what your coworkers think of you. It will be up to you to change or preserve their perceptions by the way you carry yourself when you meet them in person.

Even still, socially distanced relationships have had their benefits. For instance, because we have regular and normalized access to technology that helps us communicate, meeting someone in-person for the first time doesn’t have to be as awkward as it used to be. Whereas we’ve always had the option to Facetime or call before meeting someone in person, it is now less unusual to establish a visual report with someone by having a quick Zoom call before you meet them in person. Clearly, business networking saw what online dating was doing right. People decided that the most efficient way to meet new people wasn’t shaking their hand at a networking event, but clicking on their profile. 

Furthermore, it might be difficult to resume conducting our business in person, but using the lessons we’ve learned over the past year and a half will certainly help. For instance, if you felt comfortable networking and meeting new people in the comfort of your own home, think about what made you feel comfortable and see if it can translate elsewhere. Or, since the distance has forced many of us to prioritize work in our relationships, try to find areas of common interest with people you already know and make your connections more personal. Resharpening our social skills might be a difficult process, but it’s not one we need to rush. 

Because technology has been so crucial to conducting business, we should appreciate the impact that it had on our successes. This pandemic has opened new channels of communication and has shown us that we don’t need to meet in person to get things done. Sometimes a quick Zoom call or slack message is the more efficient way to communicate. And that’s okay. We shouldn’t feel obligated to return to the office or to in-person activities just because we see others doing it. If technology has made your business easier to conduct, embrace it. There is no question that it offers an enormous amount of flexibility to business owners, employees, and customers alike. 

Every business-person should assess whether working in person or online makes the most sense for them. If you prefer the convenience of sitting in your living room and taking notes on your computer during a meeting, so be it. Just be aware that your coworkers, business partners, or competitors might not do the same thing, and understand the advantages and disadvantages of working remotely. 

A clean-break from the isolated reality of the pandemic might be preferable for some. But for others who don’t want to leave this era having learned nothing from their experiences, it would be helpful to reflect on all the things that working virtually has taught us. The pandemic allowed me to capitalize on my communication skills, my extensive network, and my comfort with technology which all helped my business expand, but it also revealed gaps in Bizydev’s strategy that needed to be filled. I would recommend that everyone be equally self-conscious in their analyses of their pandemic experience.


Bizydev

Introduction to the Bizydev Blog

Welcome to the first-ever post in what is sure to be the most prolific and prolonged blog series in business development history. We’re very excited here at Bizydev to accompany you on your business development journey to a place of sustained growth and financial prosperity. Flash photography is permitted, but please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times.

In all seriousness, we’ve created this blog because we believe that our experiences and expertise deserve to be shared with the business community as a whole. It’s a soapbox for us to express all the ideas we’re generating and conversations we’re having internally that might be useful to the broader world. By putting out thought-provoking, informational, and interesting content, we aspire to help anyone who’s interested in entrepreneurship or business development get more familiar with the industry. But, beyond that, we just want to create pieces that are compelling and conceptually accessible to anyone. We hope that you get something out of our content, but if not, we thank you for taking the time to engage with us. Happy trails!