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Top multifamily operators band together, plan massive investment in real estate tech

Launch venture capital fund with $108 million in the bank

Some of the multifamily industry’s largest operators are joining together to launch a massive push to invest in real estate technology.

Five major multifamily real estate investment trusts, Aimco, Boardwalk, Essex Property Trust, MAA, and UDR, are partnering with private owners Starwood Capital Group, Cortland, and GID to invest more than $100 million in a venture capital fund organized by Real Estate Technology Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm.

The companies have invested $108 million in the fund, Real Estate Technology Ventures I, which will be used to invest in “disruptive real estate technology companies” in the multifamily industry.

According to the companies, the group of investors is the largest single group of institutional multifamily owners of its kind in North America, with the companies combining to own or manage nearly one million rental units.

And now, those companies are turning their focus towards investing in the cutting edge of real estate tech.

The firm leading the charge is Real Estate Technology Ventures, which organized the fund. RET Ventures is led by John Helm, who brings experience in venture capital, real estate and real estate tech.

Helm previously worked as chief financial officer for Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Brokerage Company before building two real estate technology companies: AllApartments/SpringStreet and MyNewPlace.

After selling both of those companies, Helm served as a venture partner at DN Capital in Germany, where he led investments in real estate company Purplebricks and others.

“Our expansive network of major multifamily operators and access to capital offers clear benefits to both entrepreneurs and investors,” Helm said.

“RET Ventures seeks to identify innovative companies founded by strong entrepreneurs that will help our LPs better operate their portfolios,” Helm added. “Our deep industry expertise and relationships with some of the largest and most innovative operators in the industry can help these companies grow rapidly and achieve category leadership.”

Essex Property Trust President and CEO Michael Schall said the company is “excited” to be working with RET Ventures and its compatriots.

“The sheer volume of companies contacting us makes it difficult to identify which new and exciting technologies will both improve our residents’ living experience and our operations,” Schall said. “RET Ventures has created a unique win-win proposition built upon their extensive experience in real estate technology and proven ability to identify high-growth companies.”

One of RET Ventures’ first investments is in a company called SmartRent, a smart home automation platform company for property managers and renters. For more on that investment, click here.

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