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Apr 9, 2015 7:57 AM ET

Archived: Pi Labs Accelerator Fund – Europe’s first property-innovation focused accelerator

iCrowdNewswire - Apr 9, 2015

Pi Labs Accelerator Fund

Europe’s first property-innovation focused accelerator.

London, United Kingdom


Pi Labs is, to our knowledge, Europe’s first property-innovation focused accelerator. It was founded to identify and invest in the next generation of property related technology startups which have the ability to grow into the likes of Zoopla and Airbnb.

Founded by Faisal Butt, CEO and founder of Spire Ventures, Pi Labs plans to create a £500,000 fund which will invest in up to 15 startups over the next 18 months.

An accelerator programme is a hands on model for funding and accelerating the growth of early stage startups. Accelerator success stories include the likes of Dropbox, Airbnb and Reddit.

The Pi Labs accelerator aims to provide a selected group of startups with office space, mentors, and access to a sector focused network and investor group to help accelerate their growth. Each team will undertake our 3 month programme which will conclude with a Demo Day in which each team presents to a group of London’s top investors.

Pi Labs operates in partnership with global real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield and property venture capitalists, Spire Ventures. This partnership brings an extensive range of sector specialism, contacts and networking opportunities to the Pi Labs teams.

The Pi Labs fund has been set up to provide investment to the companies going through the accelerator programme. At the start of the programme the selected companies will be provided with £20,000 of investment for a 7% equity stake.

At the end of the programme certain teams will be offered follow-on investment of between £50,000-£150,000 for additional equity. This will be subject to the performance of a valuation, necessary due diligence and approval from our investment committee.

By investing in the Pi labs fund you will get a ready-made portfolio of startups selected and supported by a highly specialised and experienced investment team backed by sector professionals.


We have focused on the property innovation space as we believe the UK has one of the largest and most dynamic property markets in the world. However, in our opinion, the property market and all the services that surround it are antiquated and are a constant cause of angst for occupiers, landlords, investors, brokers and other end users.

World capitals such as London attract more and more international capital, putting additional strain on the creaky old ecosystem. We see new innovators entering the market as a counter-cultural reaction to this public angst. Unlike traditional property businesses, this new breed wants to build innovative products that will address customer pain points through innovative approaches and technology.

We believe that such a movement deserves an epicenter, a place in which like-minded individuals can come and share their ideas and innovations in a collaborative and dynamic workspace. We have already seen other established industries disrupted by game changing technologies. Sector specific and corporate accelerator programmes (e.g. in finance, health, digital marketing) have been opening the doors to innovation in their respective sectors. This approach has been highly valuable to both investors and startups. Pi Labs intends to lead the way and create a similar platform within the property sector.


Typically an accelerator will run two programmes a year, each lasting 3 months, with the provision of a small amount of capital to help them get started. The programmes are, however, more than a source of capital. Their primary focus is to accelerate the early growth of these businesses, to mentor them, to connect them to relevant industry contacts and to help them attract top talent.

Founder teams apply to the programme, and are put through a rigorous screening process to ensure the best teams are selected. The chosen startups move into the provided space and the accelerator team works intensively with them to the get the companies in the best shape to attract future investment. Each programme ends with a demo day where the startups present to a group of selected investors.


We will take a mentor driven approach to our programme and believe the strength of our network and the quality of our mentor support will be the key to the success of our startups. Each programme will run for 3 months and concludes with a Demo Day in which each team presents their startup to a selected group of investors, mentors, press and interested community members. Our goal is to significantly enhance the valuation of the portfolio companies by the end of the 3 month programme.

The Pi Labs fund will invest in a minimum of 5 startups, up to a maximum 15 startups (in the case of overfunding), going through the Pi Labs accelerator in 2015.

The fund offers investors who wish to invest in innovative early stage startup companies in the property sector a way to acquire a carefully selected portfolio of investments.


Pi Labs is looking to identify and invest in the next generation of early-stage innovative property startups.

How we see the property sector:


The criteria for selecting the companies to join the accelerator programme are as follows:

  • An early stage business related to the property sector, which is deemed to have an innovative business model. Certain elements of the business model may still require validation and the product may still be in development or in an early version.
  • A founding team of 2 or more individuals that have the technical and business acumen to build a high growth business. They need to be able to further develop their Minimum Viable Product (MVP) during the programme.
  • A business idea where the product or distribution model is technology-enabled or involves an innovative approach not seen elsewhere in the market. The idea must have the potential for rapid scaling and, in the view of the investment committee, have the ability to achieve a £100m valuation within 5 years.
  • A company that has the ability to raise additional funding post programme and will undergo multiple funding raising rounds in order to reach profitability and/or exit.


Pi Labs operates in partnership with global real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield and property venture capitalists, Spire Ventures.


Cushman & Wakefield is a global commercial real estate services firm, committed to providing the most creative and innovative services to its clients. They advise and represent clients on all aspects of property occupancy and investment. Founded in 1917, they have 250 offices in 60 countries, employing more than 16,000 professionals.

Pioneering the Pi Labs initiative puts Cushman & Wakefield at the heart of London’s tech ecosystem working alongside world-class entrepreneurs, tech innovators and creative companies while sharing the firm’s extensive range of industry sector specialisms, contacts and networking opportunities.


Formerly known as Hamilton Bradshaw Real Estate (HBRE), Spire Ventures is a London based property-focused venture capital group. Founded in 2010 by entrepreneur Faisal Butt, Spire Ventures has grown from strength to strength as the firm’s reputation for its relationship based approach continues to attract the most talented entrepreneurs. Investments include emoov, Hubble (formerly Spacious), 90 North and Accouter.

Spire Ventures follows a rigorous investment process and invests in the very best management teams innovating in the property sector, both in startups and existing businesses. Their approach is tailored to each business and involves the building of ‘dream teams’ to help accelerate their Founders’ growth plans.

For Spire Ventures, Pi Labs is a natural next step after their most recent investments in property technology companies such as emoov (the UK’s largest online estate agent) and Hubble (an online platform for sourcing office space).

Pi Labs underlines Spire Ventures’ and Cushman & Wakefield’s commitment to progressive innovation in property and technology. Pi Labs’ vision is to drive the next generation of technological innovation with in property by investing in the best teams in the sector.


Faisal Butt – CEO

Faisal Butt is an entrepreneur and investor based in Mayfair, London. He is the founder and CEO of Spire Ventures (formerly known as HBRE), a property focused venture capital firm he founded in 2010.

Mary Criebardis Singh – Programme Director

Having spent 6 years at Colliers International in Canada and Brazil as a Senior Consultant Mary then undertook an MBA at Insead. She used this opportunity to shift her focus and follow her passion for technology by joining several tech startups in London. She has held various operational positions, most recently as Operations Director of Believe.in a crowdfunding platform for non-profits.

Rebecca Hooley – Investment Director

Rebecca has over 10 years of experience in the finance and real estate sectors. Rebecca is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has an MBA from Cambridge University. She started her career at Ernst and Young before becoming Finance Director for a resort developer and more recently an Investment Manager at Spire Ventures.


Juliette Morgan – Partner Cushman & Wakefield

Juliette leads the tech initiative for Cushman & Wakefield in London. She has 15 years of experience in the US and UK. She is an urban-tech specialist and the Head of Property at Tech City UK.


Below is small sample of the mentors who will be joining us on the Pi Labs accelerator programme. Please visit www.pilabs.co.uk for the full list of mentors.

  • Eyal Malinger – Corporate Development Director, Countrywide (UKs largest Estate Agency Group)
  • Matt Atkinson – Former Chief Marketing Officer, Tesco
  • Oliver Knight – Leasing Director, Land Securities
  • Tak Lo – Director Techstars
  • Brett Akker – Co-founder & Chairman of Lovespace (former Co-Founder & Joint CEO of Streetcar)


We strongly believe that the unique partnership between Cushman & Wakefield and Spire Ventures will empower the property startups by providing state-of-the-art space, access to investment, high level networks, and property sector strategic support.

Providing the team’s access to mentors from the largest property companies in the world will help them position their businesses appropriately. It will also allow them to test their products and develop their network. We feel that this combined with access to expertise from the tech world and high calibre investors will give these businesses the highest chance of success in the future.

The founders of Pi Labs have a track record in selecting strong management teams and building high growth businesses in the property sector through Spire Ventures. By investing in the Pi Labs fund you will get a ready-made portfolio of startups selected and supported by a stellar investment committee of investment and sector professionals.

For eligible investors SEIS/EIS relief is also available on your investment.


We’re raising £500,000 from investors across the property, tech and investment world. We are looking to attract investment from both corporate entities as well as individuals. We have provided two types of investment vehicle; an EIS Fund for individuals looking to take advantage of the SEIS/EIS tax benefits and a Limited Partnership Fund for corporate investors. Both of these are contained within this Seedrs campaign.


The Pi Labs fund will cover investment in a minimum of five startups going through the Pi Labs accelerator in 2015. An overfunded campaign would allow us to invest in more teams, up to a maximum of 15, going through the Pi Labs accelerator in 2015. The fund will invest £20,000 in exchange for a 7% equity stake in these early stage startups.

After demo day selected teams will also be offered follow-on investment of between £50,000-£150,000 for additional equity subject to the necessary valuation and due diligence being performed and approved by the investment committee.

On each programme we will offer one place to a later stage company which has already raised capital. These companies may be offered follow on investment, subject to approval from the investment committee, but no initial investment will be made. Having a later stage business in the space will allow learning opportunities for the early stage startups.

The minimum investment amount is £100.


Investors’ funds will be held in escrow by Seedrs until the startups are selected by the Pi Labs team. Seedrs acting as nominee will then invest directly in each company in exchange for the equity, subject to their strict legal due diligence. Seedrs will then hold your shares as nominee (in the same way that it does for all startups that raise money through its platform).


Investors’ funds will be held in the Limited Partnership under the management of Seedrs until the startups are selected, and then Seedrs in its capacity as the appointed FCA authorised agent will invest the funds from the Limited Partnership directly in each company in exchange for the equity. The Limited Partnership will then own the shares.


All investment amounts discussed above are presented net of fees. On each investment round Pi Labs charges a one off fee of 10% of the investment amount, with a minimum fee of £10,000. The Seedrs fee will then be paid out of this.

A performance incentive equivalent to 20% of the return will be deducted from your profits. There will be an 8% hurdle with respect to the Limited Partnership Fund, but not with respect to the EIS fund. This 20% performance fee will include the Seedrs carry fee.

Contact Information:

Faisal Butt
Mary Singh
Rebecca Hooley

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