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DALLAS-Armed with a new CEO, Octane Ventures LLC is courting others to get with the program in a high-tech drive to standardize wheeling and dealing. Other brokerage firms are being wooed to come on board while alliances are being sought with third-party database providers. “We are in discussions with everyone,” Joseph Fitzpatrick, Octane spokesman, says in an exclusive GlobeSt.com interview. Fitzpatrick will spend today introducing new CEO James Huser to industry leaders at Realcomm 2001 being held in Dallas.

Octane isn’t shooting for the “be all, end all” solution to online trading, but it does want to be the premier player for aggregating the industry’s technology. “If it makes sense to bring other partners in sooner instead of later, we would do it,” says Fitzpatrick.

For now, the focus is on getting the long-awaited platform up and running, an undertaking that Fitzpatrick says is now three times more costly than the founding Octane members had budgeted. The budgeted amount is a closely guarded number, he says. Initially, Octane had said development and implementation could run “north of $40 million.” However, that number has since been downsized from projections some 14 months ago, says Fitzpatrick.

The beta testing of a transaction services platform or comprehensive portal will be rolled out in the fourth quarter. The technology core is in place via the contract with WorkplaceIQ.

Part of the defunct RealtyIQ’s database will be assimilated into the operation. That database, stresses Fitzpatrick, is “scrubbed and cleaned” and has no claims against it from any other company, including Cushman & Wakefield Inc. which had sold its property database to RealtyIQ and now has the original back in house.

Meanwhile, everything’s being fine tuned as Huser builds his team and settles on a headquarters city, which for now is based in the consultant’s office in Orange County, CA. Look for the headquarters to land in a “solid second-tier tech market,” says Fitzpatrick.

Key to implementation will be getting the four founding members’ 3,700 brokers to use the system. Training will be required and so will usage when all’s in place. The built-in incentive will be timesaving measures so more deals can be cut, upping the weighted average of 14 deals per year per broker. Eventually, brokers will have to use the system to collect paychecks faster, reveals Fitzpatrick. “To get real transactions in the marketplace, you have to have a critical mass of users,” he says. Each Octane member will be dedicating two or three employees to the training, education and rollout plan.

The game plan is to eventually set up a fee-based platform that’s available to all brokers, not just Octane members. It’s all about keeping pace with today’s business world. “I think you’re going to see 10 years of drag and lag come screaming forward,” he assesses of the revolution that’s on the horizon.

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