Head over to the Crowdsourcing Week Global 2016 hub for more insights, expertise and passion of the thought leaders and innovators speaking at this year’s conference. Join us 11-15 April in London for a week of fresh ideas and insights on the global Crowd Economy. Register here for exclusive pricing, available only for limited time.

From Marketing Intern to Chief Operating Officer, James Scott’s passage at The Collective is as good a story as the organisation’s journey itself. Pitching themselves as “not your average property company,” the young, London-based outfit makes a bold statement of intent in its mission to “redesign the world around our generation.”

Like a calling card to a swathe of ambitious, creative millennials, The Collective has since 2010 done the hard graft of getting to know its market—the young people it is creating work and living space communities for—as James explains, “We build physical places for people to come together to live and/or work, and facilitate interaction among our members in these spaces to create a community. By responding to their needs and wants we’ve been able to create a new form of housing, thus disrupting the property market.”

Currently spread across nine London boroughs, the fortunes of The Collective’s disruptive model comes from seeing its industry and market in a different light from traditional property firms. Responding to the need for affordability and trust from their market, James says, “With shared and serviced economies now established as mainstream, the idea of a community as a product is the next revolution in industry.”

He adds, “A community product is about creating value from an engaged community. It’s about looking at the community you create and seeing them as your value proposition and finding ways to monetise, creating value from the fact this community trusts your brand. How you maintain this trust is by offering them things that add value to their community, making it a self-perpetuating cycle.”

With a deeply creative approach to building communities and staying involved with their members’ journeys, James shares The Collective’s alignment in recognising the power of the crowd. He says, “All organisations should embrace the crowd because it has the power to add value to long-term growth through repeat use and brand loyalty. Technology has made the crowd accessible in way that wasn’t possible before–giving us more access to data, insights, target market and crowd funding.”

Like any disruptive group within a traditional industry, James recognises that challenges lie in areas of expertise. “The biggest challenge facing us is the war for talent,” he says. “In an increasingly competitive market you need to stand out from everyone else and invest in recruitment and HR in order to attract and retain the best. The better the talent, the better the product—which in turn attracts more talent.”

Looking to the future, asked what the single most important step the property industry can take toward embracing the crowd economy in the next five years, James says, “I think the property market has the opportunity to adopt crowdfunding and use it massively to its advantage.

“Property has always been a tangible investment opportunity to the every man. As an asset class it’s becoming more and more unaffordable and barriers to investment are much higher. Therefore people wishing to invest in property need lower barriers to investment and crowd funding is one way of doing just that.”

Photo credit | Fiona Hanson

Join James on the opening night of Crowdsourcing Week Global in London on 11th April, as The Collective will play our hosts for the evening