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If you call Simeon Garratt and Cody Curley a couple of real estate nerds, you’ll Spark a conversation.

If you call Simeon Garratt and Cody Curley a couple of real estate nerds, you'll Spark a conversation.

The two founded Spark in 2012, creating a new online system for real estate developers to manage and market their projects and properties.

"I grew up in China. I moved to Vancouver six and a half years ago and got into the real estate industry because I speak Mandarin and Cantonese," Simeon says.

"I spent about two years travelling back and forth between Vancouver and Asia, and Toronto, working with different real estate development and marketing firms. All the software being used to develop and market projects was archaic, complicated to use and expensive. It wasn't a good representation of what we were trying to accomplish."

Simeon and Cody teamed up to form Spark and launched its product in January 2015 after spending over 2 years in product development. The goal from the start was to make life simpler for property developers.

"We're looking to solve problems for developers that exist across the board, not just locally, but everywhere projects are being built ," Simeon says.

Spark operates at the back end of a development project. "It's not a consumer product – if you are a buyer, you'll never see it," Simeon explains.

The challenge for developers, whether they are putting up a few units or a large luxury housing project, is to juggle all the complexities involved in creating a built environment that comes in on budget, attracts buyers and tenants, and meets all the laws and regulations it has to follow.

"The developers, sales directors and marketing teams use it to manage all their projects. Spark provides an email marketing platform, the reporting requirements, inventory, contracts, conveyancing – everything that's needed to help sell, as well as determine how a project is going through the development process," Simeon says.

Formula E
(Credit: SUPPLIED)

Spark's innovation is that it offers one-stop shopping. Online tracking has been available for some time, but before Spark, it usually required using several different platforms and applications, which don't always mesh together smoothly.

Spark is different in that it's one of the first platforms to take all the aspects involved in putting together a new development and make the information available to the developer in one piece of integrated software.

"It's the tool for everything, from conception to completion. It can track all the notes, all the phone calls, all the information about the clients, what they're looking to buy, what's available, what's already sold," Simeon says.

Spark is also a valuable customer relationship management (CRM) tool. "All the marketing the clients get is sent out through Spark and it does the overarching analytics too – it will tell you how your project is trending," Simeon says.

Developers can customize Spark's interface across a wide range of variables. For example, a company can install its own branding, colours and dashboard images. Spark can also be customized for different types of users. For example, the marketing manager may track different information using Spark than the developer's administration department might track.

Spark is constantly adding new features. In 2016, among other elements, Spark added the ability for users to see their own company-wide statistics, allowing them to track and compare all built projects or ones on the go.

This can be valuable knowledge. Developers can see how many units in their projects are available or have been sold and also what percentage of their inventory these represent. They can also see the average price of a unit in each project and the average price per square foot – all while Spark is also measuring web traffic and comparing it to previous weeks' traffic.

Spark can also assist developers' own sales and marketing productivity, keeping track of how quickly the sales team is getting back to prospective customers.

The software tracks the time from a new online registrant's first sign-up to their first interaction with a member of the team, then it displays the average response time for the week. It can compare these response times across all projects and their sales teams.

Last year, Spark raised more than $1-million in funding from its Vancouver headquarters. Both Simeon and Cody say the cash infusion is being put straight toward helping Spark's customers consistently improve their own clients' buying experience, as well as getting Spark into the hands of more developers globally.

In its first 18 months, Spark enjoyed average monthly growth of 30 per cent, with customers now in over 65 cities and six countries bringing on hundreds of new home projects.

It quickly attracted interest in both eastern and western Canada, and Spark's client list already includes four of the top 10 new development brokerages in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, a prominent developer in Britain with a large portfolio in central London and a Vancouver developer that expects to build 40 towers within the next 10 years.

As Simeon puts it: "We really are just a couple of real estate nerds."

More information on Spark can be found on the Spark CRM website.

This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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