Behind the scenes of BuildingLink International with CEO Niall Marshall

At the turn of the century, when everyone else was worried about the Y2K bug, a family passionate about property in America were busy building BuildingLink. They combined their industry know-how with technological innovation to create one of the best proptech solutions available for property managers and residents today.

A decade later, the software arrived on Australian soil, transforming the way residential and mixed-use buildings are managed and improving communication and quality of life for residents around the country. Our Australasian CEO for BuildingLink International takes some time to reminisce on the early days of BuildingLink and let us in on his plans for the future…

Tell us a bit about BuildingLink and how you discovered the Proptech solution

I’ve worked in various parts of property management and investment for the best part of my career. It was 2009 when I first heard about BuildingLink, we were trialling our own maintenance management software for the real estate sector in Australia and Asia. I was introduced to the founder and CEO of BuildingLink and learned about their system. Their solution was different from what I had been working on – it was more focused on real-time communication and relationship management between residents and property managers.

Why did you think BuildingLink building management software would work in the Australian market?

Around the time that we heard about BuildingLink, everyone was looking at software as a solution to perceived maintenance issues. But we really needed more than that – real-time communication between residents and property managers and autonomy for residents to manage some of their details was also needed – BuildingLink had that capacity in spades.

The software was originally seen as a way to assist buildings with maintenance as this was perceived as their greatest problem. Nowadays, BuildingLink is seen as a necessary value add to a building or project to enhance the livability of the residence, things like services and offers available to the online concierge. Any building utilising all of BuildingLink’s functionality will automatically add value to the user experience and in turn, return a higher value to the owners and tenants. There is an old saying that’s been revamped for this space: “No one has ever been fired for installing BuildingLink.”

What challenges did you face in the early days of BuildingLink and have these changed much in the past 20 years?

Initially, it was mostly an educational process, trying to get all stakeholders to consider this industry and building management a little differently.

We must have done a good job as everyone wants to copy us today! Challenges have evolved slightly, although, fundamentally, they are about ensuring our built environment keeps up with expectations – and expectations are changing fast! Smart technology is changing what we assume all sorts of spaces can do, expecting them to adapt and respond to our needs quickly. BuildingLink supports that for residential and mixed-use environments.

Have any adaptions been made to the system for Australian users?

We have been able to make regionally specific adaptions both here and in Asia – for example, some of the languages and translation capabilities of the system are testament to the work done in our part of the globe.

What is it about BuildingLink that made you want to move from being immersed in the property sector to becoming involved in a SaaS business (albeit a Proptech SaaS)?

It was an opportunity to enable change on a larger scale.

My former work with the maintenance focused software had an influence on a project or management practice in a microenvironment. However, it was like changing one bad driver at a time! Whereas this is an opportunity to assist a whole industry with a holistic solution for property management.

What are your aspirations for the business and where do you think BuildingLink will be in ten years from now?

Already we’ve grown so much since the first building in Sydney adopted our technology. In the future I see BuildingLink becoming the single source of truth for a building. It will be a crucial part of the real estate ecosystem.

This will go beyond traditional maintenance, administrative, finance and communication into the health and well-being of the environment and the inhabitants of the space. The integration of technology with our built space has so much potential for improving the quality of life – not only within a single building but across the wider community that it’s a part of. It’s an exciting time to be involved in proptech and building management systems.