Oxford University business school launches ‘proptech’ module in new course

A new programme by Oxford University’s Said Business School promises to “equip participants with the ability to identify opportunities for disruption in the financial services sector”.

While the course is entitled the “Oxford Fintech Programme”, it dedicates a whole module to ‘Proptech and real estate innovation’.

For industry stalwarts it may seem laughable that proptech can be taught – but with so much money at stake, surely sharing ideas and exploring innovation in a classroom setting (albeit online) could be the way to avoid expensive mistakes.

easyProperty and Countrywide serve as a reminder of how much money can be spent plotting a proptech path.

It looks like the course will focus on generating ideas rather than the typical MBA route of looking at past case studies – of which Purplebricks, Rightmove and Zoopla would be key positive candidates.

Examples of what-not-to-do are often heralded by incumbent voices but nevertheless proptech’s graveyard is littered with many an effort to disrupt estate agency.

My wife gave me this awesome stat: on average a 4-year-old child asks 437 questions a day.

Whether true or not it makes you think that children learn because they ask and explore. How many estate agents think about the future, let alone ask questions about the shape of their services?

Well, for £2,500, agents can take this Oxford University course delivered in partnership with Get Smarter, an online learning platform.

Beyond proptech, the course covers wider fintech topics including marketplaces, the future of money, and regtech (regulation technology).

The core focus is disruption, with the first three modules culminating with ‘Tools for disruptors’.

It makes you think about all the comments at the bottom of EYE articles stating ‘facts’ about property transactions and that ‘outsiders’ with no experience couldn’t possibly succeed.

On the other side of the argument you have venture capitalists citing examples of file sharing and Apple iTunes disrupting the music publishing industry, websites disrupting travel agencies and the upcoming artificial intelligence disruption of legal services.

The best defence for estate agents surely has to be better than tens of years of experience doing what they do.

Estate agents, being perennially at the bottom of trusted profession league tables, haven’t traditionally made a good fight of defending themselves.

While Purplebricks cites Trustpilot scores, traditional high street estate agents display no auditable proof of customer satisfaction.

And yet, surely that is exactly what high street agents have: years of successfully selling homes locally for the best prices.

In producing this data disclosure on a constant basis, it would be fairly easy to point fingers and say a company merely listing on Rightmove can’t possibly offer a comparable service.

Or on the other hand, it might prove the opposite.

In any look to the future, having a better handle on answering questions with irrefutable facts and data would put estate agents in a stronger position when others come along looking to “deduce possible future trends in proptech”.

Details of the Oxford University course can be found here:


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