Venture

JLL Debuts $100M Fund Focused On Real Estate Tech Startups

Last summer, real estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle launched a new unit—dubbed JLL Spark—to promote the development of tech-driven real estate services.

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Now that unit has announced the creation of JLL Spark Global Venture Fund, which plans to invest up to $100 million in startups focused on leveraging technology to improve real estate development, management, leasing, investing, and the tenant experience.

JLL joins a growing list of real estate companies entering the venture space. In April, I wrote about Redaptive Inc closing on a $20 million funding round led by commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE.

The new fund is being run by co-CEOs Mihir Shah and Yishai Lerner, who previously co-founded a recommendation startup called Mob.ly that was sold to Groupon in 2010.

Shah said JLL Spark was inspired to launch the new fund because Shah and Lerner “see an amazing amount of promising new startups” entering the real estate tech (also known as proptech)  space and believe they can help make a connection between them and JLL’s clients and services.

In March, JLL Spark acquired Stessa, a company focused on the long tail residential real estate investor—helping small-to-medium sized investors manage their residential real estate properties.

“Having been entrepreneurs ourselves, we know how hard it is to bring a new product to market, especially in an industry that has been slow to adopt new technology,” Shah said. “That’s why our goal is to partner with entrepreneurs and help them tap into the resources of JLL’s business lines so they can succeed in rapidly growing their companies while we also create value for JLL’s clients.”

JLL, a Fortune 500 company, specializes in real estate and investment management. It has nearly 300 corporate offices, operations in more than 80 countries, and 83,500 employees.

The new venture fund will focus on seed and Series A investments, as well as “select” later stage rounds. Typical deal size will range from a few hundred thousand to several million dollars.

“We are looking for companies that can quantify their value and have the potential to scale,” Shah said.

For example, one goal is to make buildings smarter with technology.

“If we make buildings smarter, the data coming out can be used to improve the building’s energy efficiency, space efficiency, and could be used to make a material impact on maintenance and the quality of the building,” he added. “In terms of building owners and investors, the smarter their buildings become, the more they save on operating expenses while improving the experience for their tenants.”

JLL Spark Global Venture Fund will focus on startups with products that can be a boost to JLL investor and occupier clients, or that can be used by JLL businesses to better deliver services.

“There are a lot of high-quality tech entrepreneurs in this space, but the challenge is that sales and deployment cycles are really long. From the investor and occupier’s side, there isn’t necessarily infrastructure in place to decide which startups are the best and which ones should they use,” Shah said. “This fund will help build a bridge between those. Our goal is to build deep relationships with high-quality entrepreneurs and help them build their companies while helping our investors and occupiers as well.”

iStockPhoto / VOLHA RAMANCHUK

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