Hazelview Investments has launched Hazelview Ventures, a venture capital fund that will partner with early-stage proptech, buildtech and cleantech companies.
“The hope is to find the absolute best companies we can help and that can really help us with our operations,” says Roger Poirier, a chartered financial analyst who co-founded and is leading Hazelview Ventures.
The fund will only invest in companies with tech-enabled solutions Hazelview Investments can use internally to improve operating efficiencies and tenant experiences.
“The hope is by actually getting involved early enough with these companies at the development stage, we can make sure that we’re actually getting exactly what we need and helping them on their growth trajectory as well,” Poirier says.
“We feel that if we’ve got the best solutions for us, others will want to use them as well.”
The focus on proptech, buildtech and cleantech firms will help Hazelview with its operations and could result in cost savings, he says.
As for cleantech, “anything that will help us with improving our carbon footprint or at the same time, improving our energy efficiency is something that makes sense for both our tenants and our investors.”
Hazelview Ventures and Rhenti
Hazelview Ventures’ first investment was $1.5 million in Rhenti, a marketing platform for residential real estate rentals. The VC fund is currently working with two other buildtech and proptech companies to see if there is a fit.
Poirier would not divulge how much the venture capital fund will have available for investments but “it’s not like we’re just delivering money.”
Rather, the early-stage companies the fund invests in will also have access to advice from employees at Hazelview Investments.
“We’re really committed to creating a collaborative environment with our portfolio companies, rolling up our sleeves and making sure we can really deliver a strong product offering. It’s all about getting there early enough to really be impactful and get them on a growth trajectory.”
Poirier says that while there is plenty of venture funding available elsewhere, “I think the entrepreneurs we want to work with are looking for that opportunity to really collaborate with a partner and a customer – somebody who really understands the end market.”
Canadian and international firms
The VC fund prefers to work with homegrown, Canadian entrepreneurs – “it’s something that we’re really excited about” – but would be happy to speak with anyone with solutions that “can really be helpful and impactful.”
Ideally, the fund will invest in tech companies with proven products for small and medium-sized landlords which need help to reach large property management companies, Poirier says.
“We’re really hopeful that by partnering with them and helping them deliver the right solution for us, it should be the right solution for a bunch of other customers and so we really think that by working with us we’re improving their shot at success.”
Since Hazelview Investments is one of Canada’s larger property management companies, “if a solution makes sense for us, we would expect it would make sense for others as well.”
Rhenti, for example, has “a really fantastic platform for simplifying the process for finding the right apartment for renters,” he says. The site, which says it “helps you find the right renter, faster,” streamlines the rental application process as one profile can be used to apply for multiple apartments.
Rhenti has served more than 1,000 property owners who collectively manage more than 42,000 units across Canada.
“Our goal is to help them develop an enterprise solution for the larger property managers such as ourselves,” says Poirier, noting Hazelview is beta testing the Rhenti application for its entire nationwide portfolio of more than 22,000 units.
“We thought they were at the right stage to really help us and for us to help them.”
About Poirier and Hazelview
Poirier has more than three decades of capital markets, finance and M&A experience.
He founded Whiteshell Group, a merchant bank with a focus on venture capital and mid-market private and public companies and co-founded Cormark Securities, an institutional equity boutique, where he held various senior positions over an 18-year period.
He has also served on several boards.
Hazelview Investments manages $9.9 billion in real estate assets and employs a global investment and asset management team of more than 70 in its offices in Toronto, New York, Hong Kong and Hamburg.