Technology is powerful in the tech world, but makes even more of an impact on other industries.

On Tuesday, more than 160 realtors and property developers came to hear from 13 startups at the Real Estate Showcase at the Waterloo Inn.

The showcase, in partnership Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors, brought together two different industries with one thing in common: entrepreneurship.

For an 80-year-old association in an industry that contributes more than $200 billion towards Canada’s GDP, what’s driving such an interest?

For Ted Maulucci, Chief Information Officer at leading property development firm Tridel, the showcase was enough for him to make the trip from Toronto.

“It’s important as a business to see what’s new and have that edge,” Maulucci said.

That edge helps realtors stand out in yet another commodified market, where arguably they all produce the same result: a sale or purchase.

Part of that comes from a big shift in the industry, where agents’ biggest value-add – information – is now easily accessible to the consumer.

“You have to be ahead of the curve, especially when it comes to technology, and embrace those changes in order to offer more services to the consumer,” said KWAR President Mark Wolle.

How realtors differentiate themselves comes from what else they have in their tool belts.

Companies at the showcase included Apartmint, online rental marketplace; Sweep 3D, creates low-cost 3D models; DraftingSPACE, renovation design software; Set Scouter, a marketplace connecting homeowners and filmmakers; and even online payroll company Wagepoint.

They covered a broad range of value propositions, but all were applicable to the region’s realtors.

“The realtors in this area are aware that this is an intelligent area, with places like Communitech, all the great startups and tech companies,” Wolle said.

Like any other service industry, realtors are trying to find ways to delight the customer before, during and even after the transaction.

And companies like Planitar are quite happy to help.

Planitar created the iGuide, an online tool for accurate floor measurements, 360-degree views and floor plans, and has been successful locally.

“K-W is a conservative market,” said Kevin Klages, CEO of Planitar. “So if you can sell here, you can sell anywhere.”

He attributes that conservative nature to the low housing prices in comparison to other markets. This makes it more of a challenge, and more of an achievement, to convince a realtor to spend a slice of their commission on new technology.

Although the region is a great testing ground for startups, it has other benefits.

“You get these people here and they will go out into the world and talk about how wonderful what you’re doing is,” Klages said.

This credibility is carried by realtors when they head to larger markets like the U.S., he said.

But it’s that first introduction that counts.

“Having Communitech here has given us the opportunity to go in and meet with guys like Mark Wolle, and they’re opening doors for us that, if we were in another community, they wouldn’t.”

Maulucci looks at the colliding of the two worlds through a different lens.

“I think it’s important for businesses to come out to these things, because Canada is a nation that is lagging [compared to] the rest of the world, and we need to help the startups because the startups are going to help us.”