For many of us, 2020 has been by far the most unusual year in our lifetimes. Even so, innovation and the adoption of technology have continued unabated, and in some cases have accelerated. A prime example of this is the growth of rent tech. In fact, the rapidly evolving world in which we live has helped many real estate-related technologies thrive, as social distancing has increased the importance of tools that support real estate operators and renters and the new socially distanced, work-from-home reality.
After the whole world seemingly came to a chaotic halt in March, the RET team, like many others, took the opportunity to take stock and reflect on our strategic priorities. We assessed the situation — both for our fund and for our portfolio companies — before getting to work developing strategies that would bring success to our growing ecosystem of real estate operators and entrepreneurs in this “new normal.”
As the summer rolled on, we found ourselves as busy as ever, and we backed several exciting companies in the rent tech space during the last few months. These included:
— Engrain, a unique company that creates building mapping technology and visualization software, with a focus on multifamily properties. Engrain builds a 3D map layer for properties to act as a “Google Maps for real estate.” With an open API, they will pursue integrations with other technologies, enabling self-guided touring, accounting systems, facilities management tools, and other asset and property management-related solutions to benefit from wayfinding and location-based data analysis. RET led the $3.7-million funding round in Engrain.
— Kasa, an innovative hospitality company that partners with owner-operators of multifamily and hotel properties to offer business and leisure travelers short-term accommodations. While there are other companies in this space, Kasa is unique in its approach to collaborating with multifamily operators and has invested heavily in its technology stack, which enables it to be more nimble in its operations and provide greater value to its industry partners. Even as the broader hospitality industry has struggled, Kasa has sustained strong occupancy and unit growth through 2020, meaningfully growing market share. RET was proud to participate in both Kasa’s $20 million Series A (which closed less than a year ago) and its $30 million Series B.
— PassiveLogic, a next-gen autonomous building management system (BMS) that leverages an AI-driven digital model infrastructure to reduce BMS installation time by up to 90% and ongoing energy spend by 30%. The technology can improve the insight institutional landlords have into the operational performance of their portfolio, and also provides open interoperability for other software and hardware, making it a welcome next-generation smart building solution for the industry. RET invested in the company’s $16-million Series A raise.
— Falkbuilt, which manufactures offsite fabricated interior construction components and develops software to bring efficiencies to architecture, design and construction. Falkbuilt’s founding team has a wealth of experience in construction, and the company has a robust distribution network of 70 independently owned branches, helping it rapidly grow its domestic and international client base. We were very excited to lead Falkbuilt’s $20 million CAD Series A round.
We also made a still-unannounced investment in the IoT space with a company developing a novel application for microphone-based AI with exciting applications for the real estate sector. We look forward to sharing this with you all soon.
We’re also vetting a number of other compelling real estate tech companies, and will have more news to announce soon!