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A European PropTech View with Tzvete Doncheva, PropTech1

18.7.22

Welcome back to ‘A European PropTech View, with Dilan Omari our Q&A focused on European PropTech’s.

Our Q&A series is an opportunity for our European team, headed up by Dilan Omari to discuss all things PropTech, Start-ups, and Career with different founders from across the continent. Each week we will ask PropTech innovators burning questions and quiz them about their product, we hope you find it insightful and enjoy getting to know the founders as much as we have.

This week we have been in touch with Tzvete Doncheva, Investor Relations Lead at PropTech1.

PropTech1 is a European venture capital fund, bringing together leading real estate corporates, medium-sized real estate companies, and innovation-savvy real estate entrepreneurs in a PropTech fund to invest in innovations in the real estate industry. PropTech1 has been designed so that the Managing Partners, Venture Partners, and shareholders all contribute their expertise at every step of the investment process – from deal sourcing and analysis of investment opportunities to long-term smart money support for our investments.

Briefly tell us about yourself.

My name is Tzvete and I lead investor relations at PropTech1 Ventures, a European venture capital fund, focused on early-stage PropTech. I support the day to day communication with the existing and prospective shareholders of the firm and work closely with our investment team to develop our overall internationalization/expansion strategy. Prior to taking up fundraising for PropTech1, I’ve had a mix of experiences ranging from entry level finance-based roles (at an international investment bank and at a single LP supply chain-focused fund) that allowed me to get a practical level of understanding of the investment process deal by deal. My original entry point to the world of venture was via an ecosystem internship at the VC spinout of multinational real estate investment manager Round Hill Capital (Round Hill Ventures). I’m an international relations major (proud QMUL grad!), ex-journalist, former operator (PropTech startup that did alternative co-working), who’s interested in breaking certain stereotypes about women (ie I’m a former beauty queen working in risk capital!). It’s not an either/or game, and girls shouldn’t strive to be one or the other. A cause I’m really passionate about is towards helping young women be financially independent. One way to have greater impact here is to not only expose them to the world of finance early, but empower them with the tools and knowledge to have a meaningful role in it. So that they in turn, can pass on this opportunity to other women. 

 

Which VC are you representing?

PropTech1 Ventures, which is building the the European venture capital platform for transformative real estate technologies . We were one of the first to focus on investing in real estate innovation on the continent, are ESG-compliant and are backed by institutional investors like German RE banks Aareal, Berlin Hyp and Swiss Insurance firm Basler Insurance, who we support to navigate the PropTech landscape.

 

Tell me more about your VC in terms of age, size (in terms of no of employees), fund size, companies invested in, which stage invested in, etc.

PropTech1 launched to market in 2018, went into a formal VC structure in 2019 and closed its first fund at 50 million euros December last year (2021). We’ve so far made 14 investments out of this vintage such as Austrian soonicorn defect management and documentation platform PlanRadar and ecoworks, the first German provider of net zero modernization of residential houses (that recently won the prestigious ‘PropTech of the Year’ award by the German Property Federation, ZIA -> more on this here). 

 

What are your plans for 2022?

Company-wide, expect more investments announcements, activity in new markets and larger vehicles to support the next generation of PropTech entrepreneurs, redefining real estate build the future. Personally, I’m hoping to take more concrete steps (ie plan!) to support the cause I’m passionate about, mentioned above. You’ll also see me a lot more often in London. As I’m trying to rebuild my network in town, I am keen to hear from real estate companies and financial institutions with an interest (to invest) in venture. As well as, I am keen to hear from those with the desire or/and means to change the financial landscape. If you want to see more women on the investor and investee table, do reach out. 

 

We get a lot of candidates that are looking to get into the PropTech VC space. What advice would you have for these candidates?

Be prepared. Do your research, map out the firms, investing in the space you’re interested in (i.e. PropTech), and are active in the geographies you’re looking to develop in. Learn more about the partners of these firms, their teams and portfolio. Already ‘knowing’ the ideal organization you’re looking to work at is one but an important step of the way. And before that of course, do your homework to understand what venture is and the role/job profile you’d like to take in the team.

Find and develop a unique edge. Do you have a unique skill or ability most people don’t? Are you able to crunch numbers better than anyone, connect with people effortlessly or have a natural eye for the latest trends? Hone whatever makes you stand out and try to find how it can add most value to the firm. Think of the freemium version of yourself you can offer your ‘future team’, to get them to better understand what’s it like working with you.

 

What do you love to see in a pitch deck?/ What are your top tips in a pitch?

As I’m currently on the other side of the fence (VCs pitch for funding too!), I’d be better placed to share thoughts from my own experience fundraising, rather than the opposite. So, although there’s a link between the two, focusing on the second bit of your question. To deliver an effective pitch, it’s helpful if you:

  1. Know your audience (who you’re pitching to). When does a one-size-fits-all sales approach ever work? Before you even start pitching, do your research to know who you’re pitching to.
  2. A conversation, not a monologue. A common mistake people make in a sales approach (and I’m pretty sure I’ve been guilty of that too at certain occasions) is to be so eager to share the story and why their product/service is the best, they don’t let the other person speak. How else are you to find out what moments from your story to focus on? Reflecting back on my journalist days, one of the very first questions I (and the fellow trainees) were asked by the senior members of the team was what’s the one skill that makes a good journalist. No need to second guess that, it’s being a good listener.
  3. Emotion, emotion. A good pitch is memorable and makes the other side connect. There’s a ‘click’. If there’s something about your message that resonates, it’s that much easier for it to be passed on.

In terms of deck structure, important slides to have are on the team, timing, solution (what you’re selling) and some sort of third party credibility check (think traction). Whatever helps you explain your edge in a story format, with as little text on the slides possible (for founder pitches, I’m a big fan of using Loom or a creative approach – the format of the pitch is a bit more structured when pitching LPs). For more practical insight, here’s my all time favorite video on how to deliver an effective pitch by the VC guru himself, Vinod Khoshla, founder of Khoshla Ventures. 

 

Without giving away your secret sauce, give us some criteria a company needs to fulfill to successfully raise funds from your VC.

At PropTech1 we’re on the lookout for the most innovative PropTech companies in Europe, revolutionizing the way the real estate industry operates along the entire building lifecycle. We are an early-stage investor who’s active across Europe (sweet spot is Series Seed/ Series-A). In very generic terms, we like to see a good team with a deep understanding of the pain point they’re trying to solve (unique sector-specific experience or edge), a sizeable market with the opportunity for it to grow even larger, and a level of traction to demonstrate you’ve already got key stakeholder buy-in. 

LMRE are specialist PropTech recruiters, if you need help growing your business or making any key hires please get in touch via the form below!

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