Category: News

11 Oct 2016

EUROPE’S LEADING PROPTECH VC, PI LABS, FORMS STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIP WITH CBRE

Europe’s first proptech-focused venture capital investor, Pi (Property Innovation) Labs, has formed a strategic business relationship with CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services company.

The business relationship focuses on the mutual exchange of property industry expertise and insights into the emerging trends and developments in the rapidly growing proptech sector. Both parties will work closely together on mentorship opportunities with start-ups within Pi Lab’s renowned proptech accelerator programme, starting with the next cohort to join in January 2017.

Pi Labs was launched in October 2014 and has since gone on to support 16 successful proptech start-ups, in areas including planning, social housing and office management. A three-month bi-annual programme provides funding, mentoring and office space for a select cohort of new start-ups.

In addition to providing an accelerator programme, Pi Labs now represents Europe’s only venture capital platform providing investment exclusively in proptech companies that are at seed to Series A stage and are looking to take the next step in their evolution.

Ciaran Bird, Managing Director of CBRE in UK said: “Our relationship with Pi Labs allows us to be at the forefront of proptech, and helps us to identify emerging technologies for the benefit of our clients and the property sector as a whole. Pi Labs has evolved rapidly since its inception and can now provide us with a unique view of the trends and new proptech innovations for all aspects of the real estate sector.”

Dominic Wilson, Managing Partner of Pi Labs, said: “Our strategic relationship with CBRE in the UK will allow a fantastic cross-fertilisation of property sector insights and the very latest trends and innovations in proptech. We are delighted to welcome CBRE to our stable of top tier supporters.”

In April this year, the Pi Labs Accelerator announced a new joint venture partnership with pioneering property start-up The Collective, where the latest accelerator programme is also housed at No. 14, Bedford Square, London. Pi Labs recently announced a strategic funding partnership with Bosa Ventures, the VC arm of Bosa Properties – the largest luxury residential developer in Canada, so that start-ups coming through its accelerator programme will now have access to £100,000 in funding.

04 Aug 2016

Pi Labs enters into a strategic funding partnership with Bosa Ventures

Pi Labs partners with major Canadian luxury real estate development company to facilitate North American expansion for its portfolio companies

Property Innovation Labs (Pi Labs), Europe’s first proptech-focused VC, has entered into a strategic funding partnership for its accelerator programme with Bosa Ventures, the investment arm of one of Canada’s most respected property firms – Bosa Properties, to further its reach globally and create many more opportunities for its cohorts in North America and beyond.

Pi Labs was launched in October 2014 and has since gone on to support 16 successful property technology start-ups, in areas from planning, to social housing and office management. The three-month bi-annual programme provides funding, mentoring and inspiring office space for the most exciting new wave of ‘proptech’ start-ups. In April, the Pi Labs Accelerator announced a new joint venture partnership with pioneering property start-up The Collective, where the latest accelerator programme is also housed at No 14, Bedford Square, London. Last week, five teams comprising the most recent cohort of Pi Labs presented to a room of over 150 investors, seeking seed investment from £500,000 to £1,000,000.

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Bosa Properties is one of largest luxury real estate development companies in North America with a presence in both Canada and the US. Bosa owns, is actively developing, or has transacted in excess of $5B CDN of property assets. Pi Labs will have a strategic partnership with their VC arm, Bosa Ventures, which will provide additional funding via a SAFE or convertible note for Pi Labs companies to extend their runway or close out an existing funding round as they exit the programme. Perhaps more importantly, the cohorts will now have a gateway to North America to both test their products as well as have a partner for North American expansion.

This means cohort companies have access to £100,000 of funding through the accelerator programme before they potentially raise their seed round. All cohort companies will be eligible, though it will be at Pi Labs’ discretion and recommendation to determine which companies should receive the funds. Following on from success stories such as Switchee, Airsorted and Propoly in previous programmes, the teams in Programme 4, which starts in October, will be the first cohort to benefit from Bosa’s involvement..

Colin Bosa, Chairman of Bosa Properties commented on the new partnership that “Our alignment with Pi Labs will allow us both to be on the forefront of new frontiers of proptech, while leveraging the multiple streams of innovation we already have underway in the field of property development and construction”.

Dominic Wilson, Managing Partner of Pi Labs, said of this partnership that, “We are delighted to partner with Bosa Ventures; it’s an incredible opportunity for the start-ups financially and also in terms of global reach. We now also have a close link to North America and a partner to help our companies roll out into those markets. In financial terms, our programme is now one of most competitive in the world and we will continue to source the very best talent and companies from across the globe as a result. And crucially for Pi Labs, it’s also a ringing endorsement for the programme we have built here in London and quality of companies we have coming through. That said, we still believe we have areas to improve upon and we believe Bosa Ventures has a crucial role to play in that process.

Applications for Pi Labs’ Cohort four are open. Apply now at pilabs.co.uk

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17 Jul 2016

A Note to Our Investors, Partners & Portfolio Companies

The last few weeks have created a sense of uncertainty and chaos, as politicians grapple with the reality of the Referendum result. The implications for the UK are far reaching and every industry, without fail, will feel the winds of change.

The Tech industry is no different and we have received numerous requests from media, investors, and portfolio companies as to what we feel the future holds. This note is a specific address to that question, now that we have had the time to properly reflect on and digest this new environment we find ourselves in.

At a basic level, there are two macro factors affecting tech. The first is an attitude to risk. In volatile markets, there tends to be flight to safe haven assets such as gold or gilts. Venture has always been the sharp end of the stick from a portfolio point of view – high risk with very high rewards on offer. Given the volatility in the equity and bonds markets, allocation to venture may well suffer due to the denominator effect, especially in institutional portfolios. However, what is also true is that venture now represents a better investment proposition than ever before. The ecosystem in Europe is increasingly more mature, there are more funds supporting early stage companies than previously and you have a cooperative public sector in terms of state support. Further, compared to more stable asset classes such as equities, bonds and even real estate, venture is now a better risk-adjusted investment offering: it is still high risk of course, but these alternative “secure” asset classes have become more volatile recently, yet without the prospect of higher returns.

The second factor is the status of London as the pre-eminent tech hub in Europe. There have been plenty of other European cities putting their hands up in the last few weeks in order to lure start-ups away. But it is not happenstance that London is at the epicentre of this industry in Europe. It has a rare blend of finance, industry, creativity and arts & culture that serves as a perfect petri dish for innovation and technology. This combination has been years, if not decades, in the making and is not something that other cities can just replicate at a click of a button. Yet it’s the cultural diversity in the capital that is the key ingredient in making this possible and we must work together to ensure that it is preserved. There can be no room for complacency.

Pi Labs is clearly also influenced by the direct impact on the real estate industry. The last week has seen some panic seep into the sector with the closing of various open-ended property funds. Yet, our research and feedback tell us that investors had become circumspect about the pricing in the UK property market well in advance of the Brexit vote. Many felt that the market had become overheated with the influx of foreign capital and as such they had become sellers, not buyers. Indeed, a number of these investors have chosen to invest with us to switch their focus from real estate to tech, albeit with a close nexus to their core sector.

Pi Labs is a global investor in proptech and as such our investment remit extends far beyond the issues surrounding Brexit and the EU. We continue to see proprietary dealflow from Asia and the US; indeed we are in due diligence on two deals in these regions.

Regardless of geography, dislocation in the underlying real estate markets is a boon for proptech companies as it forces asset holders, investors, and owners to be creative in their search for yield and/or value. Property companies and investors will be forced to use new tools to deliver better returns – and technology will be at the front of the queue in terms of the methodologies that will meet this need.

Great companies will thrive in any environment; indeed Uber and Airbnb were both formed in the last recession post the GFC. US based Matterport’s acquisition of Virtual Walkthrough is testament to the enduring quality of the proptech market in the UK, despite recent events. Our portfolio companies all have the potential to be great – that is why we backed them in the first place. Pi Labs remains committed to investing in and supporting the proptech ecosystem and that applies as much to our existing stable of early stage ventures as it does to prospective start-ups seeking investment.

We are very much open for business: we have capital to deploy through our new Fund; continue to make seed investments such as Plentific and are now welcoming and receiving applications for our 4th accelerator programme which starts in October 2016.

The journey may be more precipitous and we must all, together, be vigilant as a result. But we have complete confidence that we are all up for the challenge: We look forward to continuing this journey with you.

 

Dominic Wilson
Managing Partner

05 Jul 2016

The Proptech BOOM: UK Startup Plentific Raises £2 Million

One of the UK’s fastest growing ‘proptech’ startups, Plentific, raises £2m in funding, bringing total investment in the company to just over £2.9m. The latest round of investment includes major backing from a number of high profile angel and tech investors and Property Innovation Labs (Pi Labs), Europe’s first venture capital platform to invest exclusively in early stage ventures in the property tech vertical.

Plentific, founded by Cem Savas and Emre Kazan, is a home services marketplace designed to help homeowners, landlords and professionals with technology-enabled services. The platform has over 75,000 professionals listed across the UK and helps homeowners collect and compare quotes across over 350 services. The company has ambitions to develop a platform that is able to streamline the highly fragmented £235* billion European home improvement sector. The investment will be used to accelerate the development of additional features as well as to increase brand awareness.

Commenting on the investment, Cem Savas, co-founder of Plentific said: “We’re delighted with this investment which allows us to continue evolving our product and to start stretching our marketing legs. We are driven by making home improvements better value by removing the hassle of back-and-forth phone calls, protecting consumers identity, scheduling, sourcing quotes and payments, so people can focus on getting the work done.”

Plentific has earned the trust of Zoopla, Primelocation and the Planning Portal to power their ‘Find a Pro’ pages and will announce further partnerships throughout the year. In March, Plentific was selected to be a part of the Everline Future 50 for Real Business, and have been placed at #35 in the top 100 startups by startups.co.uk.

Commenting on the investment, Dominic Wilson, Managing Partner at Pi Labs, said; “We’re extremely pleased to be backing Cem and Emre in what is a huge market opportunity. The home services market is a key investment theme for Pi Labs given the strong European consumer fundamentals and Plentific’s speed of product development and calibre of partnerships were decisive factors in our involvement. It is an excellent first seed investment for our new fund and represents exactly the type of innovative, tech-enabled product, led by a great management team, we are looking to invest in.”

For Pi Labs, one of the principal investors in the Plentific fundraise, the investment further supports the booming activity in the proptech space with Plentific one of a number of startups looking to shake up this category. Pi Labs recently held a first close on its £10m fund, which continues to attract fresh capital, to invest in other startups in the sector, with Plentific its first seed deal of approximately 20 investments it expects to make over the next three years. Pi Labs is also planning an additional 20 pre-seed investments through its accelerator programme and recently announced the first five for this fund earlier this year.

Concluding on the announcement Emre Kazan, co-founder of Plentific, “Pi Labs was a key VC we wanted to have in the round. They have been operating in the European property market for some time so their domain expertise and experience will be invaluable as we look to realise our ambitions of making Plentific Europe’s biggest home improvement marketplace.”

25 Jan 2016

Our Plans For The Future

It’s been an exciting year here at Pi Labs – we set up and launched Europe’s first proptech accelerator; invested in and graduated 10 proptech companies; and signed up over 110 mentors to work with our companies. On top of that, one of our companies has already raised a Seed round of £350k.

And we have big plans for 2016! Over the next couple of years we will be expanding our platform, increasing the number of investments and driving innovation in the property industry through our accelerator programme and events. In the next few months we will be sharing more information on our next fund and changes to our platform, so stay tuned!

After speaking with over 100 early stage technology companies about the challenges they face as they grow their companies, we have decided to change our investment terms. We understand that living in London is expensive and we are dedicated to ensuring early stage companies have the runway required to properly test their products and get the traction required to raise their Seed rounds. So next year, we will invest £40,000 net in return for a 7% stake in all companies that join the accelerator.

We have also created a way for companies that have already raised a Seed round of investment and have initial traction to benefit from the accelerator. Those companies will be part of the accelerator programme but instead of the initial equity investment they will receive a warrant for up to 5% equity. This means that in the next round of funding Pi Labs will have the right to participate up to 5% of the round.

Finally, we are very excited to announce that starting in 2016 we will invest in Seed through to pre-Series A rounds.  As always, we will continue to focus on companies in the proptech vertical. There will also be post-accelerator funding available for the proptech companies that have gone through our programme.

The accelerator programme structure will generally remain the same. We will run two 13 week programmes each year and accept five proptech companies in to each programme. Over the 13 weeks, the teams will spend time with mentors from the property, technology and investment industries and go through our structured programme which includes weekly workshops, drop in sessions, and speaker sessions. If you are interested in joining one of the world’s leading proptech accelerators, please apply online.

We are very excited to drive real growth in the proptech industry in 2016 and beyond to support companies at various stages of their growth. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, or if you invest in proptech companies and would like to stay informed on what’s happening at Pi Labs, please contact us.

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