Today is a special day.
A day we could not have imagined just over three years ago.
Today is the day that Property Tribes comes of age and moves to its own bespoke platform, rather than being hosted on a generic one.
From a small but philanthropic idea that was born on 18th February 2009, something special has emerged.
Back in 2009, I was already a prolific poster on forums.¬† I recognise that I am an opinionated person and I LOVE property & Landlord-ism, so am always happy to share my thoughts and experiences and support others on their journey both on and off-line.
I had been a regular poster to two forums, LoveProperty.com and Singing Pig and had posted over 6,000 posts on those two forums.
But there was a problem.
In fact, there were several.
For Landlords to grow intellectually there must be more a range of forums.¬† Each forum will have a different culture and different agenda.¬† That is healthy.¬† It is the responsibility of every forum owner to act in the interests of the community and be aware of how diverse the community is.
We saw some of the issues with other forums, and as they didn‚Äôt meet our specific needs, Nick decided we should create our own.
That is how Property Tribes was born.
There was no plan, no strategy, no desire to monetise it, nothing.
Other than we decided to create a place where professional Landlords could network and share for the greater good of the community.¬† We wanted a place where we could learn and grow ourselves, and create a network of like-minded people.¬† We wanted to create a destination that was friendly, supportive, and valuable in terms of resources ‚Ä¶ both content and people.¬† A place that would not allow defamatory comments, personal abuse, or flaming behind anonymous avatars.¬† A place where people could post with confidence.
Nick set up Property Tribes on Ning (a free social networking platform) on 18th February 2009.
We invited about 30 of our property friends to come and join us.
We had no marketing budget and, because of that, the forum was left to grow organically and very slowly.¬† But that was okay with us.¬† We were busy doing other things and were learning ourselves about the power of community and how to manage it.
On 19th November 2011, Property Tribes topped 3,000 members and today, as we move to the new platform, we are approaching 4,000, so the growth is accelerating.
In late 2010, Nick realised that Property Tribes needed to be taken to a new level.¬† We were very restricted by Ning with what we could do to improve the site, so we came to the decision that we needed to ‚Äúown‚ÄĚ the code of the forum, rather than rent it.
Nick set about soliciting members views on how to improve the site.¬† We had great input from the community, especially John Corey, ¬†who all gave very detailed feedback about how to make the new Property Tribes a ‚Äúsuper forum‚ÄĚ.
The most important thing we realised is that, in order to be successful, the new Property Tribes needed to provide a far more ‚Äúpersonalised‚ÄĚ experience.¬† We are entering the era of ‚Äúmass customisation‚ÄĚ where people can customise their technology and inputs to suit their specific needs.¬† The new Property Tribes needed to be able to be customised to each member‚Äôs specific interests ‚Ä¶ both topics and people.
Says Nick ‚ÄúWe know only too well that people are bombarded with huge amounts of information on the web 24./7.¬† The new Property Tribes had to address this, and help manage it via personalisation, curation, and validation.¬† Each member‚Äôs Home Page can be customised, so no two members will have the same Property Tribes experience ‚Ä¶ it will be completely personal to the individual‚ÄĚ.
So that was what Nick focussed on achieving.
In December 2011, we finally secured funding from a private investor to start the coding work.
Nick has worked tirelessly through the six months, along with our Technology Officer Ralph Stenzel to create the new site.
One of the biggest issues for us was not to lose all the hugely valuable content that had been contributed to the old PT.¬† So Ralph created a ‚Äúpage scraping‚ÄĚ programme to migrate all the content across to the new site.
With the new site comes new costs, especially maintenance and this was something we needed to address without compromising the original ‚Äúnon commercial‚ÄĚ ethos of Property Tribes.
Nick has therefore devised a subtle & targeted promotional add-on for businesses, along with sponsorship of the main forum and sponsorship of the individual Tribes.
In order not to compromise the integrity of the forum, it will be completely transparent how it is monetised.
So that is how we arrived at the new Property Tribes, launched today.
But it‚Äôs not about us, it‚Äôs not about code, and platforms, and binary.
It‚Äôs about people.¬† Meaning YOU, the reader.
The launch of the new Property Tribes dedicated to our tribe – our dear friends, associates, peers, and learn-ed people who chose to support us in supporting you. This is not about the individual, it is about the community.
It is about the power of friendship and community.
It is a tribute to the fact that sharing people is as important as sharing information.
It is a testament to the fact that “none of us is as smart as all of us”. ~ Kevin Kelly.
The social web is fed by “people power”. The business success stories of the future will be those people who appreciate that contributing¬†to the web and community, not taking from it, is the way forwards.
Financial wealth is important, but emotional wealth (through friendship, support & community) is priceless. ¬†Property Tribes endeavours to be a portal to both.
From myself and Nick, a heartfelt thank you to you all for supporting us and inspiring us.¬† As each new member joins the tribe, we have new experience and connections to add to the mix, and we all become stronger and grow as a result.
The new Property Tribes can accelerate that process ‚Ä¶ making learning and networking bigger, better, faster, smarter, and more.
There will be teething problems and change always affects some people more than others.¬† We will lose some members through the change-over.¬† That is regrettable, but to be expected.
But change is healthy and promotes growth.
‚ÄúThe comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there‚ÄĚ is a great quote.
We have to change Property Tribes to make it a better place for all.¬† We have to grow and bring in new members and new experience.¬†¬† We have to reach out to the 1.2 million or so Landlords in this country, many of whom work in isolation.¬† We hope you will continue the journey with us.
Follow me on Twitter:¬†@4_walls
Vanessa Warwick is a former TV presenter, turned professional Landlord, consultant, and speaker. Along with her husband Nick Tadd, she founded¬†Property Tribes, which is now the U.K.‚Äôs busiest on-line Landlord and investor community. Nick and Vanessa have just launched their new tech product,¬†Yulpa, an on-line ‚Äúproperty office/filo-fax‚ÄĚ that helps you organise and manage your entire property life in one place. It comes with an iPhone app that does auto due diligence on any property being considered for purchase.
Vanessa and Nick advocate the use of technology and digital and social communications in property, and speak at events all over the U.K. as well as consulting for the BBC on property. They invest mainly in flats London and family houses in the South East and are also big advocates of holiday lets, having two upmarket holiday lets on the South Coast that achieve above-average occupancy thanks to the couple‚Äôs web efforts and vertical marketing strategies.