And with that, let's go back to our regularly scheduled programing.
-Ben Godfrey, GEM Crystal Development
Collectively, the GEM is a diverse community of proptech innovators spanning every role, sector, and geography.
While the biz intel (such as our new Proptech Index), innovative thinking, and curation are valuable, most members are here to rub shoulders with peers making a mark on the world—we continue pushing the ball forward to facilitate curated connections across the country.
Without further ado, maintaining the tradition started four years ago to report transparently on the makeup of the community, we bring you: The State of the GEM Diamond in 2024.
Total members: 609
...from sectors far and wide
…in varying roles
...representing locations across the globe
Before we dive in, let me address the fact that we did, indeed, plateau. We’re up a net of 4 members from a year ago, from 605 to 609. While we welcomed 168 new members, 161 canceled. I chalk most of that up to macro dynamics: Many big companies are cutting every cost possible, and early stage startups are in survival mode with shrinking runways and poor funding prospects. I know the sentiment is one that many experienced in 2024. Packy McCormick at Not Boring, a writer I really respect, saw a similar situation with Not Boring. I agree with him when he says it wasn’t a bad year, but it was an extremely hard one. Especially with a growth lens. 60% of the way to our cap of 1,500 members, we’re ready to get back to growth in 2024.
Our New Years ask: Tell us what you’d like to see more of from GEM Crystal in 2024: set up a 15 minute feedback session, and receive three months free.
Now, let’s get to it…
The roles makeup remains largely the same year-over-year. Still heavily, heavily founder-focused.
The roles makeup remains largely the same as a year ago.
Our top US hubs remained unchanged.
Female: 15.76% (down from 15.87%)
Persons of Color: 24.14% (up from 20.17%)
EVENTS / NETWORKING
Pre-charging for dinner seats has been a boon for producing dinners in more locations and with less friction. We upped our happy hour output as well. Our second GEM Community Dinner at Blueprint saw more than 40 attendees. Across the board, I’ll classify the in-person side of GEM Diamond as a win.
For the virtual events side, it’s a draw. While I don’t think we did a particularly bad job, there is certainly room for improvement. We let up on the gas toward the end of the year in organizing office hours, and I’m disappointed with the lack of adoption we’ve been able to generate for our Proptech Roulette networking initiative.
Let's briefly look back on last year's resolutions:
- Test and incorporate generative AI tech: Win. We’ve been consistent with our image generation iterations to complement radar entries and transmission essays.
- Ecosystem Intelligence for affordable, accessible, or sustainable housing: We did make considerable progress updating sector resources, but not specifically focused on those three areas. The home sharing sector can be classified as affordable housing, so I suppose we can call it a draw.
- Successfully migrate remaining Paypal users to Chargebee: Draw. While we made a dent, there are still 60 subscriptions lingering on Paypal.
- Develop more integrated internal systems and reporting: Win. We’re spent the past year homing in on monthly and quarterly KPI’s that offer us a good snapshot of the vibrancy/health of the community.
- More dinners: Win. We missed the mark on a 2023 founders dinner in Seattle. That said, we offered 15 dinners throughout the year and have been successfully pre-selling seats so that there are fewer day-of variables to account for.
- Proptech Roulette launch and roll-out: Draw. We did a decent job facilitating monthly matches through the first part of the year, but fell off at the end.
- Raise (new member) pricing: Lose. It was a tough year in the macro funding environment, with lots of new budget constraints. Thus, we chose to hold off on a price increase.
Overall 2023 Score: 3-1-3
- Build up four local chapters: We’ve seen a few occasions this past year of local GEM members getting together and hosting events without Drew or the GEM staff formally initiating. We commit to facilitating more opportunities like that in 2024. The first goal is ensuring quarterly opportunities to connect in our largest markets: New York, Seattle (already happening), San Francisco, and Denver. We’ll leave Southern California alone for the time being, given its wide geographic spread—we’ve historically found it the hardest place to get people together, though we co-hosted a fantastic soiree in the OC in 2023. If you’re interested in being a chapter leader, please shoot us a note.
- Streamline event management: Our gatherings are quite popular (we sell out nearly every dinner and have a waiting list for our larger ones), but we can find better ways to manage RSVP’s, billing, and notifications.
- 20 GEM Dinners: We aspire to continue increasing the number and quality of our core member engagement experience, our dinners.
- One international dinner: In 2024, we will curate one dinner outside the confines of our core US market—most likely in London in May, either before or after CREtech London.
- GEM Crystal newsletter growth: Deliver consistency, in the form of weekly proptech index updates, curated digests, and long-form essays. Plus, a quarterly proptech earnings radar. Grow the paid audience from fewer than 50 to 275 paying readers, and the free audience to from 1600 to 2100 subscribers.
- Expand Crystal readership in GEM Diamond organizations: Gain 50 subscribers by providing discounted rates to colleagues of GEM Diamond members.
- Migrate 30 Paypal subscriptions: If it takes two more years to rid ourselves of Paypal subscriptions entirely, that’ll be a win. 30 down in 2024, and the last 30 in 2025.
- Proptech Getaway Success: We’ll treat inaugural participants to a multi-day immersion of networking, conversation, and relaxation. We already have commitments for 15 of the 22 available dinner seats, so the risk here is extremely low. The big question is: How much overflow do we serve?
- Real estate data intelligence: We’ll complete at least three parts of the ❇️recently announced biz intel series ❇️.
- 12 Office Hours with VCs and Angels: We know there is value in the virtual office hour sessions, for both investors and founders. ❇️Our early poll results validates that ❇️. In the coming year, that’s even more likely to be true. If you’re a VC or Angel investor interested in participating, let us know.
It’s going to be another turbulent year ahead. I think it’s safe to say that we’re all hoping interest rates drop, and funding activity ticks upward in a big way. It really does all come down to public market comps. They have to go up in order for investors to have confidence that liquidity (with good returns) is a possibility.
We’re long on the intersection of proptech and community. For those willing to engage, we know that there is no better collection of real estate and built world C-level operators to draw upon for feedback, advice, and insight anywhere in the world.
On the path towards building to 1,500, there are two big things working in our favor. First, as AI is increasingly used to create a sea of low-quality content, human curation becomes infinitely more valuable. More noise means more time is needed to sift through it to uncover the kernels of actual value. And second, those who succeed in this relationship-driven industry we operate in are the ones that double down on long-term relationships. Not short term transactions/deals. The best product or service won’t win without depth of relationships to drive distribution.
We will continue emerging from the noise as the bridge between real estate and tech, sharing insights that spark curiosity for aspiring proptech minds.
Through thick and thin, our pursuit remains to deliver proptech founders and executives the connections, peer support, and business intelligence needed to transform how we buy, sell, live in, and invest in the world's largest asset class.
Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. — Steve Jobs, 1997
As always, links surrounded by the ❇️ emoji indicate exclusive GEM Diamond content. If you would like to have access to all links, please consider GEM Diamond membership.