12 Questions with Jackson Slavik
Welcome to 12 Questions, a Q&A series where we pose the same set of 12 questions to intriguing folks at the intersection of insurance, risk management, commercial real estate, and digital innovation.
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This week we chat with Jackson Slavik, Institutional Real Estate Technology Evangelist and Consultant, Former Head of Starwood Capital.
1. What is the most interesting idea you’ve encountered in your world lately?
With immediate applicability? For sure Archipelago. While there is so much attention on Proptech, it's amazing to me that Archipelago has been able to find an unloved niche of the industry and bring technology to bear in it to create such a compelling value prop. Folks seem reluctant to deal with Risk, but once you crack that door open, you see how much value it can provide the rest of your business/portfolio.
2. Where do you think no one is looking right now?
I think we need much more attention paid to Blockchain/Web3 technology. We all know that Real Estate is not only behind but has essentially been left in the dust already by tech evolution in the last 20+ years. I'm of the opinion that Blockchain/Web3 applications represent an opportunity for the most innovative firms to not only catch up but also leapfrog a lot of their peers/the firms higher up in the food chain.
3. If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your industry?
Equity. There is an opportunity for new blood in management at the top institutional owners and operators. We also, collectively, need to address Climate Change and, as an industry, we could have an outsize impact on progress. Additionally, I think there are new models to be implemented that share value with tenants/localities (i.e. the cities/neighborhood our assets are in). Shareholder value will always come first, but by including other stakeholders in the cash flows and/or upside of our assets, we can increase their overall value and spread it around. With more equity through the various stacks, more value is unlocked and everybody wins.
4. What’s the most rewarding part of what you do?
Helping founders scale. I love getting my hands dirty with founders and their teams who are trying to solve hard, important problems and seeing the impact it has on their businesses and the lives of all those involved. Oftentimes, that's product-focused. Other times, it's financing/liquidity goals.
5. What do you envision the next 12 months will bring?
Hard to say—that's what's so exciting about our space right now. I hope that some of the uncertainty around new WFH/in-person office expectations shake out and we have clearer, go-forward standards for workers and new opportunities for owners/operators to respond. I also expect the innovation in Blockchain/Web3 to continue to accelerate and to bring real, actionable applications and platforms into CRE.
6. What’s your favorite building?
I'm super intrigued by the idea of RE in the metaverse right now. Lots of uncertainty but I'm keeping a close eye on the space and its accompanying "buildings."
7. Please dispel a myth or misconception about your work.
Venture Capital is the goal/solution for Proptech startups. Slower, responsible growth—while maintaining founder control—is oftentimes the best path forward. Yet, I see too many folks chase the flashiness and headlines of VC-led financings as if that's a win.
8. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Never fail to underestimate your customer.
9. What changes have you made in the last 18 months for a more rewarding and impactful workplace?
Intermittent fasting has made me sharper, so I can be more flexible with locations where I work.
10. What was the last book/article/podcast that made an impact on you?
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor. It was a great reminder to try to remember to keep things simple and that—when you can—those are the things that form a platform and support everything else you do.
11. How do you see your industry/work addressing the need for resiliency in the face of a rapidly changing world?
To be honest, I don't think we're doing enough. Until the capital allocators really hold their portfolios accountable on ESG initiatives, we won't see real change/progress.
12. Nominate 2 people that should answer this next. Why?
Jackson has opted out of this question.
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Written by Jackson Slavik
First Real Estate Tech Innovations Operator in the world. Jackson started at San Francisco's largest multifamily owner/operator (Veritas Investments) and most recently led Real Estate Tech Strategy and VC investing at Starwood Capital.