VCs explain which proptech startups will do well post-coronavirus – Business Insider

Kitty Sullivan, investor, JLL Spark Global Venture Fund

Kitty Sullivan, investor, JLL Spark Global Venture Fund

Kitty Sullivan, investor, JLL Spark Global Venture Fund


What themes are you watching in proptech? 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it increasingly challenging for startups to raise funds, with the notable exception of companies building highly relevant technologies that meet the current climate’s needs. Digitization of commercial buildings will be crucial in the recovery, alongside the implementation of new tools that support social distancing and increased sanitation. At JLL Spark, we are keen to see how startups adapt or create new products that meet the needs of our new reality.”

“Over the next year, startups will be given the ultimate test in whether they can survive this storm. Now is the time to conserve cash and stretch existing capital to provide at least 12 months of runway. We will be closely watching how the proptech industry adapts and adjusts unique value propositions to meet the current demands of the market.” 


Three main categories: “The technology built for commercial real estate will be instrumental in the return to work and adapting to a new set of standards and increased concern over what used to be everyday practices. Startups that tackle these points of contention are best positioned for success. Breaking it down into three key categories, we predict that the businesses most likely to succeed will provide technologies that increase sanitation, simplify virtual communication, and reduce the risk of contagion.”

Increased sanitation: “To address public concern quickly, companies need to rethink their environments and implement more procedures and technologies that sanitize and safeguard the public. There is likely to be an increased need for HVAC and air quality monitoring systems or even robotic cleaners that eliminate human risk and automate a potentially hazardous job.”

Transparency and communication: “Companies are actively seeking seamless and hassle-free solutions for virtual collaboration and communication, understanding that social distancing precautions will be ongoing. Tenant engagement applications such as HqO, another JLL Spark investment, may become more essential in delivering a timely and clear channel of communication for safety precautions and alerts. Transparency and public trust are essential; therefore, the implementation of seamless communication tools will have long-term benefits, especially during times of crisis.”

“Additionally, the strength stability of retailers’ supply chains is being tested right now, which may result in a need for more transparent and effective technologies.”

Reduce the risk of contagion: “VergeSense, one of JLL Spark’s venture investments, is an excellent example of a startup that has been quick to address concerns related to workplace re-entry and provide a tool that aids in the solution. The company enhanced its occupancy planning tool to create next-generation workplace sensors that help ensure safe distancing between employees in the workplace. In fact, VergeSense’s patent-pending, social distancing metrics can measure the actual distance between employees while maintaining the privacy of each individual. This tool will prove beneficial in understanding how to rearrange and operate offices to meet new health and safety standards.”

“Although there are some pockets of opportunity for startups, touchless technologies such as mobile check-in applications will become more beneficial to hotels and accommodations.”


Co-working and co-living: “Unfortunately, the proptech startups serving hospitality and offering shared co-working/living spaces have been some of the hardest hit. With the need for continued social distancing and increased concerns regarding travel safety, these sectors are likely to be some of the last to fully recover.”


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