20/20 Vision: the future of residential real estate
Faisal Butt, Founder & CEO of Pi Labs, Europe’s first and most active proptech VC

Faisal Butt, Founder & CEO of Pi Labs, Europe’s first and most active proptech VC

July 8, 2021

Faisal Butt, Founder & CEO of Pi Labs, Europe’s most active proptech VC, shares his journey in proptech and venture capital with Guy Westlake.

 

Faisal is founder and CEO of Pi Labs, which he launched in 2015 after leading the first round of investment into PropTech start-ups Hubble and Trussle as an individual investor. The Pi Labs team have since built a portfolio of over 55 proptech companies across Europe, North America, and Asia. Alongside Pi Labs Faisal is also founder of Spire Ventures, a personal investment vehicle investing in more traditional property companies. After graduating from UCLA in Business Economics and Computing, Faisal left California in 2008 to study for an MBA at Oxford University’s Said Business School. Today he lives with his family in London.

 

About Pi Labs

Pi Labs is Europe’s first and most active proptech focused VC having built a portfolio of 55+ companies globally since its launch in 2015. The firm is committed to backing the next generation of proptech entrepreneurs by investing in pre-seed to Series A early-stage ventures that are shaping the future of our built world. This mission has seen Pi Labs invest in various leading proptech businesses including Landtech, OfficeApp, Hubble and many more. Pi Labs also runs a world-leading annual 15-week accelerator designed specifically for a carefully selected group of proptech startups solving the property industry’s biggest challenges. For more information visit www.pilabs.co.uk

 

In this episode Faisal shares:

- How he caught the entrepreneurial bug when he was 25 years old and what he learned from his first ecommerce startup.

- How an MBA at Oxford University created an opportunity to work alongside celebrated British entrepreneur (and ex-Dragon’s Den star) James Caan.

- How early investments in Hubble and Trussle led him to develop the core investment thesis for Pi Labs.

- UK success story Landtech’s stellar journey to becoming one of Europe’s leading proptech startups.

- The research-led rationale behind Pi Labs' core investment themes: future of work, construction technology (ConTech), future of real estate investment management and the emerging vertical of legal tech.

- How the Pi Labs portfolio performed during the pandemic, the glut of investment opportunities in the market right now and the challenges faced by investors.

- What makes a successful proptech entrepreneur and the key traits that Pi Labs looks for when making an investment.

- The leading role played by VCs in seeding and promoting diversity & inclusion within real estate, and what Pi Labs is doing to make an impact.

Sarah Liu, VP at Fifth Wall - the world’s leading proptech VC

Sarah Liu, VP at Fifth Wall - the world’s leading proptech VC

July 1, 2021

Sarah Liu, VP at leading proptech venture capital firm Fifth Wall, shares her journey in VC and proptech with Guy Westlake.

 

Sarah Liu is a Vice President on the US Real Estate Technology Investment team at Fifth Wall, where she leads much of the work on deals across the residential, construction, and transaction spaces. Prior to joining Fifth Wall, Sarah worked at McKinsey in San Francisco where her work spanned Financial Services, TMT, and Retail and included private equity due diligence, M&A strategy, and corporate transformations. Sarah was born in Shenyang, China, grew up in Toronto and currently lives in Austin, TX. She graduated summa cum laude and Beta Gamma Sigma from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

 

About Fifth Wall

Founded in 2016 and based in Los Angeles, Fifth Wall is the largest venture capital firm focused on technology-driven innovation for the global real estate industry. A certified B Corporation with approximately $2.5 billion in commitments and capital under management, Fifth Wall connects many of the world’s largest owners and operators of real estate with the entrepreneurs who are redefining the future of the “built world”. Fifth Wall is backed by a strategic consortium of more than 70+ corporate investors from 15 countries - representing one of the largest groups of potential partners in the global “built world” ecosystem and providing a framework for game-changing investments and collaborations with promising portfolio companies. Focus sectors include retail, residential and multi-family, commercial, industrial, hospitality amongst others. For more information visit www.fifthwall.com.

 

In this episode Sarah shares:

- How her experience at McKinsey equipped her for a career in venture capital.

- How as a VC she gets professional fulfilment working alongside inspiring entrepreneurs who are shaping the future of the planet

- The personality traits and characteristics that make a great VC, and the challenges of hiring during a pandemic.

- The similarities between proptech and fintech, and why big valuations and exits (like Stripe) are only ~5 years away.

- The “paradigm shifts” that have occurred over the last year, and the sectors/technologies that have most benefited.

- Key learnings arising from the pandemic - including the fundamental flaws of the “master lease” model and the hybrid future of work.

- The primary reasons why proptech entrepreneurs fail.

- The very sad state of equality, diversity & inclusion in venture capital, real estate and technology, and her recommendations for how companies can make measurable progress.

- What it means to be a B Corporation.

- Her advice for other women aspiring to build a career in venture capital.

- Shouts out to Fifth Wall portfolio companies Assignar, Industrious, Notarize and Blend

Bella Peacock, Managing Director Investment Management & Operations, Greystar Europe

Bella Peacock, Managing Director Investment Management & Operations, Greystar Europe

June 17, 2021

Bella Peacock, Managing Director Investment Management & Operations at Greystar Europe, shares her industry experience and insights with Guy Westlake.

Bella is a key member of Greystar’s European leadership, heading up the Asset Management and Operations teams across Europe (France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and UK). She’s ultimately responsible for execution across their student and multifamily portfolio - and, looking at her earlier career, it’s clear she’s ideally suited to the job! Bella's built deep experience across all of the major institutional residential asset classes; initially student accommodation at the UNITE Group, and then serviced apartments, PRS and BTR/multifamily at Native. Alongside her day job she’s an active member of the Urban Land Institute, Real Estate Balance and The Class Foundation, and recently became a mum. Bella has an MA in Geography from the University of Oxford, and an MSc in Real Estate Investment and Finance from Henley Business School.

About Greystar:
Greystar manages and operates over $220 billion of real estate in ~200 markets globally with offices throughout the United States, Europe, South America, and the Asia-Pacific region. It is the largest operator of apartments in the United States, managing approximately 729,000 units/beds, and has a robust institutional investment management platform with approximately $39.8 billion of assets under management, including over $18.3 billion of assets under development. For more information visit
www.greystar.com.

In this episode Bella shares:

- How as a recent graduate a job offer from the UNITE group opened up a career in real estate, trumping other avenues in HR and consumer goods.

- How she deftly juggles work and home life, and why parenthood has accelerated plans to move to the country.

- How the significant under-supply of professionally managed student accommodation has fuelled Greystar’s re-entry into more regional markets.

- Why the increasing amenitization of space doesn’t necessarily impact affordability, and why scale operators have an unassailable advantage.

- Her views on the state of equality, diversity and inclusion in real estate - what the industry can do more of and better.

- The paradigm shift at an industry level to talking about and solving for customer experience.

- How the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology in real estate, and the growing importance of flexibility and convenience.

- Why the institutional sector is set to grow, and the real life opportunities and challenges that VCs should be investing in to solve.

- Why our time and energy is better spent building upon our individual strengths vs. trying to solve for personal weaknesses.

Harry Hill, former Chairman & CEO of Countrywide, co-founder of Rightmove

Harry Hill, former Chairman & CEO of Countrywide, co-founder of Rightmove

May 4, 2021

Harry Hill, former Chairman and CEO of Countrywide and co-founder of Rightmove, shares his journey in real estate with Guy Westlake.

Harry is one of the legends of UK estate agency, considered by many to be the original proptech pioneer. Over his 20 year tenure as CEO of Countrywide, Harry built the company into the world’s largest group of estate agents offering integrated property services, eventually selling the business to US private equity firm Apollo Global Management for £1bn in 2007.  In 2000, whilst at the helm of Countrywide, he led the formation of Rightmove and served as the company’s Chairman until 2008.  Today Rightmove is the UK’s leading property listings portal with a market capitalization of £5.3bn.

Harry has held numerous non-executive roles at both public and private companies, including Hunters, Learning Technologies Group and Lavanda.

In this episode Harry shares:

  • How failing to get into the army led to auctioning cattle in Yorkshire, which in turn proved to be a springboard to a stellar career in property!
  • How building an estate agency business of scale was a vehicle to cross-selling high margin products like insurance and property services.
  • Why digital adoption in real estate has been historically slow, but why that is now set to change fast.
  • Why 90-95% of proptech businesses are destined to fail due to lack of product market fit.
  • How he believes the next seismic innovation in real estate will be making the process of buying a home as simple and straightforward as buying a car.
  • His admiration for Alex Chesterman (founder of LoveFilm and Zoopla)  whose most recent start-up Cazoo is now mooted to be going public at a valuation of $7bn.
John Hitchcox, Founder of Yoo Group

John Hitchcox, Founder of Yoo Group

April 14, 2021

John Hitchcox, founder and chairman of YOO Group, shares his journey in real estate with Guy Westlake.

John is one of the residential industry's most influential and respected entrepreneurs. He founded YOO in 1999, and along with business partner Philippe Starck, the celebrated designer, built the company into one of the world’s leading placemaking and design brands. Today, YOO operates across 36 countries globally. By combining design, architecture, development, investment, marketing and branding, John Hitchcox and YOO are the driving force behind some of the world's most innovative and creative residential and hotel developments.

 

In this episode John shares:

  • How he stumbled into property despite his mother wanting him to pursue a career as a musician or conductor.
  • The serendipity of meeting Philippe Starck in Paris and together developing YOO both as a concept and proposition.
  • Regenerating swathes of London over the years, culminating in YOO's £1.3bn regeneration of Olympia into a world-leading cultural destination.
  • How he expects the way we work will change post-pandemic, and the likely impact upon businesses.
  • How YOO is adapting to capitalise on opportunities coming out of the pandemic.
  • Some of the technologies and innovations he believes are driving the industry forward.
  • The important role that music plays in his life outside of work.
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