RealTech: Like Father, Like Son, Real Estate is All In The Family

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Tonight Deep Ellum

This is sort of a teaser before I sit down for an interview with John Backes, founder of RealTech, but first  get used to more scenes like this: start-up founders pitching their tech companies to a group of people in an office space that is shared by several different entrepreneurs called co-working.

This happened Tuesday night at The Common Desk in Deep Ellum when RealTech, a tech company that connects startups to the real estate industry, got a cool space (The Common Desk) and open bar and united innovators from technology, real estate, and architecture to build a culture of “creative thinking and extreme value.”

“We are a nexus point for startup founders, real estate professionals, architects, engineers, investors, and anyone with a passion for tech and real estate,” said John.

One of the presenters was Scott Emmons, Director of the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab, where they are working hard to come up with ways to integrate the Neiman’s shopping experience across many channels. Let me put it this way: the internet is killing traditional retail, and these guys are charged with coming up with ways to keep the Neiman’s shopping experience relevant in an era of on-line everything. They are the reason why your sales clerk at Neimans has an iphone and texts you about Thursday’s Last Call, and also the “fling wall”, which allows sales associates and shoppers to “fling” an item from their mobile devices onto a digital display in the store. Now if they can find a way to fling ten pounds from my waist, I’m in.

But the apple sure doesn’t fall far from the tree. John’s dad is Leon Backes, owner of Provident Realty, the guys finishing up that gorgeous Preston Hollow Village and putting up the new Saltillo you heard so much about last year. Sooo much.

This is so cool. Reminds me of the first RE BarCamp I attended in San Francisco at Real Estate Connect (Inman’s) in 2007 when I met all the dudes from Zillow, learned what Twitter and blue sky was, and that an evangelist was not necessarily a preacher. Meetups like this are how young entrepreneurs (and Realtors) are connecting with the like-minded, and co-working spaces are where they are finding affordable work space that brings them out of the isolation of working at home. Like I said yesterday, commercial real estate needs are changing dramatically as millennials import the shared economy concept to office space. 

What’s even cooler about this event is the way you were encouraged to get there —

PARQER  a Dallas valet startup offered free valet. “Pull up, check in on the Parqer app for iOs or Android, tip your valet generously, and you’re done.

UBER – “Leave the car at home, catch an UBER Black (because, would you ride in anything less?), and use this code for $20 off your first ride.” Hey, what about Yellow Cab? At least they carry liability insurance.

DART – “DART is the #1 ride of choice for the Dallas startup scene. Starting February 1 they are giving discounted passes to Dallas startups. Download the GoPass app and take the Green Line to Deep Ellum or if you’re feeling really adventurous, take the bus.”

BICYCLE – “show up on one of these money printing fountains of youth and prove your #dallasstartuplife chops. There’s plenty of space to hang your fixie inside Common Desk.”

I am so archaic: I drove my hybrid, which is so 2010.

The Common Desk opened in late 2012 with about 5,000 square feet to offer . A year later, it added another 2,000 square feet and is one of about thirteen co-working spaces located in Dallas, most of them downtown, but some located also in North Dallas. The facilities are taking off like crazy, as Hanah Cho reported in the Dallas Morning News. The vast majority of users are startups and entrepreneurs, bit now even large professional services companies — accountants, lawyers, oil & ga, are allowing more of their employees to work from remote co-office spaces.

The co-working industry in North Texas is exploding. In the last two years, at least a dozen places have opened to cater to entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers who want to share office space… Developers and entrepreneurs believe there is strong demand for co-working spaces in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, given the region’s economy, changing demographics and increase in startup business activity.

Sounds like a perfect place for a start-up like to park: shunning the traditional long-term lease, co-working members typically pay fees ranging from $20 for a day pass to $1,000 a month for a private office.

Stay tuned for more on RealTech, but you have to see how much John looks like his dad, Leon…




Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature, and, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).

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