Property Innovation Labs (Pi Labs) is Europe’s first venture capital platform to invest exclusively in early stage ventures in the property tech vertical. It was founded in 2014, by entrepreneur Faisal Butt with the idea to identify, mentor, invest in and accelerate high-calibre startup ventures within the property innovation ecosystem.
Since its launch, nearly 1,000 companies have applied to the Pi Labs Accelerator, but only 5 per cohort were selected, to take part in the 13-week accelerator programme designed to fast track their growth.
This year’s cohort started on April 26th and will culminate on July 21st 'Demo Day' where the startups will pitch to a room of carefully selected angel investors, VCs and Private Equity groups. The companies participating are:
- Candarin Home, a platform for Chinese and other international students to find accommodation.
- Industry Hub, a startup that enables developers to discover the professionals behind projects they admire and crease online notebooks.
- Office App, a tenant engagement platform that links office workers directly with services.
- Urban Intelligence, a startup that enables developers to instantly identify what risks and opportunities are posed to projects by the planning system.
- Insight Residential, a platform that uses big data to identify trends, risks and opportunities across the market.
We’re very excited to introduce Pi Labs’ Third Cohort and to meet with Managing Director, Dominic Wilson, to learn more about the programme and this fantastic initiative.
Dominic has a wide background in Private Equity Real Estate having worked with both AEW Europe and Savills Investment Management and transacted over €3bn of deals across Europe. Dominic has a Law with French degree from the University of Birmingham and an MBA from the London Business School.
eOffice: Can you tell us more about Pi Labs mission?
Dominic Wilson: Pi Labs is a venture capital platform that invests in and supports early stage ventures in the Property Tech (PropTech) sector. We invest through our fund which has two investment channels. The first is our in-house accelerator programme where we invest in the companies for small amount of equity as well as work with them closely to aggressively build their businesses. Our second channel is an ad-hoc seed to series A value focus where we back companies who are looking for further investment to drive their current businesses forward and take them to the next level.Our mission is to uncover the best proptech companies from across the globe. Whilst we are of course financially driven, at our heart we are looking to democratise the property industry in terms of making property more accessible and transparent. This applies to social housing portfolios as much as it does to residential mortgages – we have already invested in businesses tackling these two areas.
eOffice: How is Pi Labs helping increase awareness of Proptech?
Dominic Wilson: We were the first investor in Europe to exclusively target proptech ventures and one of the first globally. We currently have proprietary deal flow from Australia South Korea, Singapore, China, India, Europe and the USA so our brand and focused approach on this vertical has encouraged entrepreneurs to come to us from many different sources. We also have done some thought leadership pieces for the press as well as speaking engagements to spread the word and increase awareness that this is an emergent and very exciting investment thesis. Fortunately, we have been very well received.
eOffice: How do you select your candidates for the investment?
Dominic Wilson: We spend a lot of time looking for the right investments. We have invested in under 2% of the total opportunities we have seen and evaluated. We are looking for a solution that is underpinned by technology. The tech needs to be at the heart of the innovation in question and so we are looking for ventures with a credible product roadmap to meet this objective. On top of this, we are looking for a product to make a big difference and have a large addressable market, preferably with a plug and play strategy overseas.
However, the key ingredient we look for is an outstanding management team who have the tenacity to execute under pressure and deliver against their vision. That is an incredibly rare mix and we work very hard to assess it.
eOffice: How do you bring support to female founders?
Dominic Wilson: We don’t treat female founders any differently – all of our founders get tremendous support and resource from the Pi Labs team and our wider network of mentors, advisors and real estate and tech experts. There are terrific women in venture capital at the moment like Sonali de Rycker (Accel), Reshma Sohoni (Seedcamp) and Eileen Burbidge (Passion) and we are keen to build on that legacy if we can. In our last cohort, 40% of the CEOs were female because they and their business ideas were outstanding. If we can get that kind of combination again, then we will definitely make another investment. The reality is that gender is irrelevant for us. In our view, great companies tend to be gender and geographically agnostic.
eOffice is proud to partner with Pi Labs and is pleased to be offering a FREE MyeOffice40 package to the startups taking part of this year’s cohort. The package is valid for a three-month period and includes: business address in one of our eOffice Central London locations, telephone number and answering service on their company name, 40 hours of hotdesking per month inclusive of Wifi and coffee, 4 hours of free meeting room space per month, access to over 200 centre locations worldwide and discounts with a number of service providers.