Happy New Year! We hope you enjoyed your festive break and are ready to delve into a prosperous 2020 with yet another inspiring instalment of Women in Property Investment.
With technology playing an increasingly major part in property, we catch up with Yasmina Darveniza, an investor at Round Hill Ventures – the leading pan-European PropTech venture capital firm which invests in businesses that reshape the built environment through the use of tech.
What does the role of a venture capital investor involve? What interested you in the role?
The role of a venture capital investor involves finding, investing, and supporting early-stage, high-growth technology companies. I’ve always been interested in the way new technologies and business models can revolutionise traditional industries.
After working in a variety of roles – from co-founding a game development startup, to advising FTSE 100 companies on technology management consulting, to working in real estate investment and operations – I’ve seen first-hand how technology can be used to positively transform the world we live in.
As a woman in a still largely male-dominated industry, have you experienced any barriers in your professional journey?
Having worked in tech, consulting and now venture capital, I’ve always worked in largely male-dominated industries. While I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve experienced any major barriers, I have always found it difficult to find senior female mentors in many of my roles.
I strongly believe that it’s crucial for women to have role models in the workplace to help idealise what they will become and create a leadership pipeline in companies.
Tell us a bit more about Round Hill Ventures? What's it like to be at the forefront of property technology innovation?
Round Hill Ventures (RHV) is a leading PropTech venture capital firm with a European focus investing in early-stage (late seed to series B) businesses seeking to reshape the built environment through technology.
Investors are pouring billions into PropTech and it’s really exciting to be playing (a role) in the real estate industry’s billion-dollar transformation.
As an example, since 2013, annual investment in US PropTech companies has grown at a rate five times that of all investment in all US businesses. In 2019, investment in US PropTech alone is on pace to exceed $10 billion. At this rate, PropTech is on track to become the new FinTech, and before long I expect it will permeate to every aspect of real estate.
What role do you think PropTech has in property investment? Can you give examples?
The real estate industry has traditionally been slow to adopt innovation and many investment decisions in the sector are reliant on personal knowledge and relationships. PropTech solutions can improve both the quality and the transparency of information available to decision makers.
For example, through the use of big data and machine learning algorithms, RHV portfolio company Casafari enables a higher level of efficiency and transparency in real estate. The startup is allowing its clients to access downloadable historical and descriptive datasets for all property cases - and is working to build the cleanest, most complete database in its geography. By using such a tool, asset managers are able to set data-driven rental prices and identify the best time to sell assets and for the most optimal price point.
In the US, Skyline AI has an AI-powered platform that can provide accurate and actionable predictions about any residential asset in the US. Skyline uses its technological advantage to detect and exploit market anomalies, identify superior risk-reward investments, and discover untapped value creation opportunities.
In your experience, is venture capital a level playing field or does more need to be done to encourage women into this field?
A recent report shows that only 20% of venture capitalists in investing roles at UK firms are women. At the senior level this figure dropped to 13%, with nearly two-thirds of firms having no senior women in their investment teams at all.
While there’s not much I can personally do to change this, we have started a #VCLeadLadies workshop series where mid-level women in VC can connect with each other, exchange insights and learn from female entrepreneurs. While it’s a small step, we believe it’s in the right direction.
This is part of an ongoing series focusing on women in property investment, with the next article appearing on January 17.