Panelists included Brian Hirsch, co-founder, Tribeca Venture Partners; Josh Guttman, general partner, Soft Bank Capital; Joanne Wilson, venture capitalist and wife of Fred Wilson; and Amy Wu, senior associate, IA Ventures.
We’ve seen at least one real estate company come out of nearly every relevant tech incubator in the last year, so more vocal engagement from VCs comes as no surprise. Underscoring this point, the WSJ reported last month that four NYC-based real estate tech companies had received a combined $18mm in funding - over a six-week period. So what are these VC’s looking for?
The most crisp and compelling commentary came from Amy Wu of IA Ventures - Wu cited IA’s focus on “foundational investments around big data”. IA invests in firms that use data creatively to make new value for customers – specifically two things:
- Unlocking data for DIFFERENT players in the ecosystem. For example, updater provides a service for consumers through change of address, but also provides aggregated behavioral data to brokers or service providers –
- Designing products that away from just insight, to decision-making tools. “It’s not enough to sell the data – it needs to be packaged to in a way that adds value” at the moment of decision.
Wu nailed it! Clear and spot on - this method articulates the dual business models we’ve been watching and cheering for years – models which have been embraced by the likes of CompStak and View the Space: help individuals with a single transaction for free or at a very low cost – then aggregate transaction data, analyze it, and transform it into value-added business intelligence.
Josh Guttman of Softbank spelled out his firm’s interest in large asset classes underserved by technology – including residential and commercial real estate, fixed income and health care - particularly for teams that have demonstrated consumer behavior change. Johanne Wilson added emphasis on the importance of excellent customer service Brian Hirsch gestured broadly about transparency and disruption, investments to work against the current industry rather that with it, aiming to “free the world, free the market......”
Regardless of which team's strategy resonates the most for you - Three key takeaways:
- Real Estate Tech is a thing – an established investment meme.
- We’ve moved beyond incubators and firmly into the VC domain of the capital stack – expect panels like these at every alternative investment conference to come.
- Data has to help someone in order to be valuable - otherwise it's just noise. Watch for examples of Wu's points - teams, products and services that help AT THE MOMENT OF DECISION - providing help, not just information - which requires an ever increasing degree of understanding and empathy for a real-live consumer.
To learn more re: each VC’s real estate portfolio– check out the links below. Welcome your comments and feedback as always!
Tribeca Venture Partners
- Real Direct
- Field Lens
- Updater (with IA Ventures)
Joanne Wilson, venture capitalist
- Curbed Media
- Working with real estate developers + investing physical assets directl