Why constant innovation matters

SearchSmartly recently became the first property search platform in the world to show air quality data around properties to prospective renters and buyers. SearchSmartly is a 2018 LBS Incubator startup founded by Taha Dar MBA2018. Taha shares why he thinks it is important to innovate continuously.

Taha Dar
Taha Dar, Founder of SearchSmartly

While this new air quality search functionality was months in the making, the timing of our release happened to coincide with one of the greatest crises of our times – COVID-19. Given the latest research showing that increased air pollution worsens COVID-19 outcomes, the importance of our recent innovations has been rapidly heightened. This had me introspecting about just how true the old adage is about how luck and timing play such an important role in the path of a startup. But it had me thinking that you can make your own luck.

Our mission has always been to empower our users to find the best homes for their unique needs. Transparency through data, technology, and trust is how we deliver on that promise. We know that in the stress and time that property search consumes, it’s easy to miss out on things that do matter. With congestion growing in cities, and with a growing global focus on reversing century-long trends in air pollution, we knew that we had to do the right thing for our users by helping them understand the health impact of their decisions on where they live. This mission to put our users first also put us on a head-on path to incorporate air quality data into our platform. The subsequent occurrence of COVID-19 was of course completely unseen, but by continuously innovating to deliver on our mission, our product was ready at just the right moment in time.

Changing trends

This experience has also reiterated to me the importance of continuous innovation. The principles behind SearchSmartly – understanding what truly matters to people when moving home and building a product to answer these needs – were spurred through on observation of how consumer needs have changed since the incumbent property search portals were founded in the 2000s. These incumbents have not kept up with these changing trends, because in the grand scheme of these business’ strategies, these changes seem too gradual, too small. Every macro trend and every sub-segment of the market seems small enough to ignore, until it isn’t. What’s more, crises often accelerate these trends, and only through continuous innovation can businesses stay ahead of this curve. Incumbents in each industry should only ignore this at their peril.

While we are proud to be the first property search platform that not only leads with the user’s lifestyle needs in mind, but also their complete wellbeing, we have a very, very long way to go before we can challenge the behemoths in our industry. But through a firm mindset around true innovation, we are convinced that it is only a matter of time before we get there.