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BLUEPRINT 2021 with Vik Venkatraman, Matthew Boras and Nima Wedlake


The Propcast: BLUEPRINT 2021 with Vik Venkatraman, Matthew Boras and Nima Wedlake

The Propcast talks to Vik Venkatraman, founder of Blueprint, real estate’s premier event for tech startups, VCs, and industry players to connect. Blueprint is hosting an in-person live event this autumn in Las Vegas! They are joined on the podcast by Matthew Boras, from RXR Realty and Nima Wedlake, from Thomvest, both of whom are speakers at the Blueprint 2021 to find out what to expect from Blueprint 2021, who is attending, and some top tips for PropTech pitching to investors. Get your ticket for Blueprint here!


Key Insights From This Episode

  • (Blueprint 2021) is going to be a gathering not to miss – Vik Venkatraman
  • We are bringing together what we believe is the very best, the very brightest, the most active, the most prolific collection of folks who are on the technology side, the investor side, and the industry side of real estate – Vik Venkatraman
  • We are focused on and excited to meet entrepreneurs that are building companies which ultimately serve as the backbone of the industry – Matt Boras
  • This has been a very interesting time for the built environment, but we have also seen a lot of amazing advancement, adoption, and strength from the technology community – Vik Venkatraman
  • At events like this, the density of connections you can make is really valuable – Nima Wedlake
  • We are excited about the opportunity that tech is unlocking across all aspects of the industry – Matt Boras
  • There’s always stuff to learn and that’s one of the pleasures of this role is that I get to learn from talented entrepreneurs on a daily basis – Nima Wedlake
  • One-to-one networking is a really important part of Blueprint – Vik Venkatraman
  • My recommendation for folks is, be proactive about reaching out and making connections – Nima Wedlake
  • Knowing your metrics as a founder and knowing where to invest your resources as a company in order to achieve your goals for growth is pretty important (when pitching) – Matt Boras
  • There’s no replacement for tenacity. I think in this game, just sticking with it can take you a really long way – Vik Venkatraman
  • By almost any metric there’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur – Matt Boras


About Our Guests

Vik Venkatraman

Vik is a strategy and innovation management consultant, and a seasoned general manager. He currently serves as the general manager for Blueprint – the preeminent platform at the intersection of tech, venture, and real estate. At Bionic, he worked with a team of serial entrepreneurs to create and go after huge opportunities with F500 c-suites. He has lead multiple teams through the deployment of dozens of ecommerce sites, built multiple B2B sales & outreach machines, designed 2 hardware IOT products, and evaluated models ranging from SaaS to Marketplace. Vik has played a key role in building the $50MM Business Insights unit at American Express, and engineered the savings or growth of over $50MM in value for clients at Deloitte Consulting. Additionally, he built a beverage company, Star Power, to a business with over 500 accounts on no outside financing, and even published a book, Inspired! (Wiley, 2008). He graduated with honors from Columbia University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering.


Nima Wedlake

Nima Wedlake is a Principal at Thomvest Ventures, focusing on investment opportunities across the real estate & financial technology verticals. He currently serves as a Board Observer at LoanSnap, a mortgage technology company, Wholesail, a B2B payments network, and Singular, a marketing attribution provider. He also spearheaded Thomvest’s investments in Ribbon, Tala, Blend, Mynd, Obie and PeerStreet. Nima was previously a Board Observer at Vungle (acquired by Blackstone in 2019) and DataXu (acquired by Roku in 2019). In 2020, Nima was recognized as one of 25 Rising Stars of Fintech VC by Business Insider. Prior to joining Thomvest, Nima worked as a management consultant advising technology clients on issues related to go-to-market strategy with the firm ZS Associates. He was also on the founding team at Sponge, a venture-backed customer engagement platform, where he led product development efforts. Nima is originally from the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied Business Administration and Operations Research.


Matt Boras

Matt serves as Senior Vice President on the Investment team at RXR Realty and leads the RXR digital ventures investment strategy. RXR offers a dynamic array of innovative investment products across the risk spectrum for its investors. Coupled with a rich history of office and industrial development, our funds benefit from our strategic increase in the construction of residential, storage, telehealth and transportation facilities across the US. Prior to this Matt was Vice President a Colony Capital, VP at NorthStar Asset Management Group, and Associate at Five Mile Capital.


About Our Host

Louisa Dickins

Louisa started her career in property working at a well-known estate agency in London. Realising her people skills, she moved over to Lloyd May to pursue a career in recruitment. She now is a Director at LMRE, who are a specialist recruitment firm driven by PropTech and recruitment professionals, and Louisa oversees their 5 core areas. Louisa co-founded LMRE and provides a constructive recruitment platform to the new disruptors in real estate. Louisa is also on the board of Directors at UK PropTech Association (UKPA).

About LMRE

LMRE believe there is a better way to recruit. LMRE focus on a more comprehensive, client led focus delivering exceptional talent to the place at the time. They are passionate about the industry and passionate about people’s careers. LMRE spend time with each client to become and an extension of the business, and their transparency and core values help them grow with the sector. LMRE simplify recruitment and innovate with our clients and evolve the people driven, PropTech community.


Resources Mentioned

LMRE website

Blueprit website

Blueprint October 4-6 2021 event – get your ticket HERE

Blueprint list of event speakers

RXR website



Episode Transcript


Hi everyone and welcome to The Propcast. My name is Louisa Dickins, host of The Propcast and co-founder of LMRE, the global PropTech recruitment and search consultancy. In this podcast we will explore how the digital evolution of the real estate industry is impacting the property market. The aim of each episode is to introduce you to a PropTech innovator and discuss how their work has created a shift in focus when it comes to digitizing the built environment. On today’s podcast, we will be hearing about Blueprint 2021, and it has been two years in the making and is set to be one of the most impactful gathering of the leaders changing real estate across asset classes under one roof in Vegas. Blueprint is the intersection of the startup, VC and real estate ecosystem across asset classes and supports all of the ways that technology is affecting the space, from sourcing through to broker tech, mortgage tech, insurance, leasing payments and much more, which we’re going to hear about later from our guests who are joining us today. Our guests, there’s three of them. So we’ve got Vik who is the GM of Blueprint, Nima who is a Principal at Thomvest Ventures, which focuses on investment opportunities across the real estate and financial technology verticals. And we also have Matt Boras, who serves as an SVP on the investment team at RXR Realty and leads the RXR digital ventures investment strategy, which we will hear a little about in a moment, but welcome all of you.



Excited to be here, thank you



Likewise thanks for having us



Great to be here thanks.



And now on today’s show, Vik will talk us through the Blueprint event, the key speakers and topics, Matt and Nima will explore a bit more about what we should be watching out for in terms of VC and tech companies, and a few of the businesses that they are showcasing. And for those who have never been to a conference for Vegas, I haven’t and I’m so excited, we’ll give you a taste of what to expect. I think this for a lot of you listeners listening in now, this is one of the first in-person events which we will be attending. And without further ado, Vik please can you talk us through it? Because it’s been in the making for a couple of years, tell us a little about it, who you are expecting to join, what’s the mission?


What is the Blueprint 2021 real estate event about?


Yes, absolutely. I appreciate the question and to your point, this is one that we have been chewing on for what feels like quite a while. Certainly the past more than a year and a half has been an interesting time to be thinking about, talking about building a live event. I’ve got to start with, we take very seriously safety considerations, safety protocol, certainly we hope and expect to have Blueprint be as safe or safer than what most people would encounter in their regular daily lives. There’s a variety of ways in which we, with a third party as well as with our venue, are making sure that a place is clean, ventilated, fully vaccinated. Blueprint is still happening, fingers are crossed. But as long as the state of Nevada stays open, we’re all getting together. And I for one am personally very excited to meet some of the great friends that we’ve made in this community along the way.



Beautiful. Well, I know we can’t wait as well. So you have some incredible speakers, I don’t know what the final amount is, but they completely vary from the startups, the VCs, agencies, consultancies, which is a difficult balance to get all at one event. So who is joining us?



Oh, absolutely. So of course, present company included, Matt, Nima, Louisa, very excited to see you guys at the show. We are bringing together what we believe is the very best, the very brightest, the most active, the most prolific collection of folks who are on the technology side, the investor side, the industry side of real estate. Forward-leaning folks from industry forward-leaning folks from tech, including the CEOs of Industrious, Doug Salaman, Side, Common, Blend, Hippo, Doma, Roofsteck, VTS, at least five folks who in the past several months are now public company CEOs. Interesting folks exploring IPOs as well as of course folks up and down the stage. Startups at the seed stage, startups at the middle stage, folks that are really making an impact in the space. And of course, the companies, the investors who are backing them, writing the checks, helping them develop, getting them into market. This has been a very interesting time to say the least for the built environment, but I think we have also seen a lot of amazing advancement, adoption and strength from the technology community. And we expect Blueprint 21 to be the place where we’re able to really ask some of these big questions and explore them on our stage and in our rooms.



Yes. There’s going to be some speakers and a huge amount for all of us to learn and take away from that. Lots of us, whether it’s the VCs, consultancies, tech companies, we’re all looking to do some networking as well. I feel like the power of networking online has been great, but what about, in-person, what should we expect in terms of networking?


What should we expect for networking at Blueprint 2021?


Oh, absolutely. so I should start by saying we are aiming at over 750 folks from our community getting together live in Las Vegas, in person meeting one another, doing some of the things that are just really difficult to do virtually. This is a space where, as you guys know, many companies in real estate are private. But we’re also going to have north of $6 billion in fundraise from the startup community, pretty close to $400 billion of market cap from the enterprise. And that doesn’t include folks from private companies, family offices, interesting people who probably own hundreds of millions of square feet of real estate across asset class that are really thinking deeply about their businesses and the where the future takes us. And we expect Blueprint 21 to be the place to meet partners, talent, new investments, acquisition opportunities, customers, partners, ways in which that we can really move the needle, both for folks on the technology side, and for folks on industry side.



Brilliant. Well, like I said I can’t wait. And Matt and Nima, I briefly introduced you both to the audience. Matt, what are you most excited about with the event? Are there any topics or technologies that you also are looking out for or interested in?


What topics are you most excited about for Blueprint 2021 PropTech event?


Yes, sure. First of all, I just want to say that I think Vik and his team have done an incredible job in getting a great group of people together across all aspects of PropTech.  And just for context, at RXR we are generally focused on investing in early-stage companies across the value chain within all types of real estate, both residential and commercial. So in terms of what we are most interested in, we cast a relatively wide net within our vertical, which is obviously real estate, but are generally focused on and excited to meet entrepreneurs that are building companies which ultimately serve as the backbone of the industry. So whether that’s software that digitizes workflows and transactions, like as an example VTS one of our portfolio companies, which is focused on digitizing the commercial leasing processes, is a good example of this. Or marketplaces connecting supply and demand, obviously Airbnb a company that went public earlier this year is a great example of this. So we’re generally excited about the opportunity that tech is unlocking across all aspects of the industry given what the majority of the industry has to offer it’s a very analog way, and especially within areas like construction as another example.



Yes, and Nima what about you? What is most excited about for Blueprint?



One of the primary things I’m excited about is just being able to see people in person again and not on a zoom call. That’s going to be quite exciting and especially in Las Vegas, it’s a great place to do so. And Vik also nailed it in his description of the event. I think that the companies you mentioned, the breadth of categories those companies operate within across the real estate value chain, I think that’s what gets me excited. At Thomvest we focus primarily on the residential side of the real estate coin. And a lot of what we’ve done has been at the intersection of housing and finance. But if you look at the scope of companies that are participating at the conference, it goes way beyond that across commercial real estate into construction. And at events like this, the density of connections you can make is really valuable. And that’s what I’m excited about doing in October.



And for various startups looking for their first investment, Matt and Nima are going to be there and a bunch of the teams will be as well, so here’s your chance to approach them. And I don’t know, maybe pitch to them, get your name out in front of them. And Matt, you mentioned some areas of PropTech that you’re interested in, how are you dissecting and analyzing the technology on the show? Do you guys have like a stand or something, are you expecting people to go up to you? What are the key things that you’re hoping to come away with from the event?


How will you be connecting with different PropTechs at the event?


Yes, we certainly hope to come into the event with a lot of meetings scheduled with folks that we already knew prior to the meeting, but then also plan to come in with a bit of free time and give ourselves an opportunity to meet new people doing different things. As Nima touched on, an event like this can be pretty impactful in terms of forming some of those new relationships, just given the density of all the different types of people that are going to be there across the industry. And I think in terms of how we think about opportunity, we certainly look for opportunities through the lens of what we characterize as secular trends or companies with tailwinds behind them.


But we generally try not to come at things too much from a top-down perspective. So, businesses focused again on things like process automation or software platforms that are generating all types of data, online transactions within payments and other types of embedded financial services are kind of all areas of interest for us. And also in its simplest form because of the angle that we are coming at things from as a real estate company, we’re really looking for startups that can leverage the RXR reality platform to help accelerate their growth. So the goal for the conference is to hopefully come away with a few new investment opportunities and companies that fit this criteria. 14.33



Yes, beautiful and Nima what about you?



Yes, very similar goals. And I think what’s nice about being focused on a particular segment for investing like Matt is, like I am, is that we come educated on which areas we like, what specific companies are doing, what the competitive set looks like within that particular subcategory of real estate. And there’s always stuff to learn and that’s one of the pleasures of this role is that I get to learn from talented entrepreneurs on a daily basis, but I also just view this as an opportunity to meet a larger swath of companies that I haven’t had an opportunity to connect with. And so my recommendation for folks and I’ll do the same is, be proactive about reaching out and making connections. This is a unique opportunity that we haven’t had for 15 months in counting. So I’m definitely planning to take advantage.



Yes. And then Vik, for people to make connections or learn about who’s attending, is this all online, is there a database for ticket holders that will be released? What is the best way to map out the market before we get out there?


How do guests find out who is attending and speaking at Blueprint 2021?


It’s a great question. We tend to be very conservative just as a group, certainly we have all been to conferences where people will make public a full database and people’s contact information. Our understanding basically has been that that gets turned into a spam email list. We are not going to be releasing the database of attendees now or ever. That’s one of those things that just as a consideration for ideal outcomes for folks who are attending and participating in Blueprint. But what we are doing and I had hoped to be able to announce this today, but I actually think it’s going to be next week,, we are rolling out the event application. We always do this across the event portfolio connective a month or so in advance of the event to get people kickstarted on setting up their calendars, reaching out to folks one-to-one.


One-to-one networking is a really important part of Blueprint and I think a really important part of the way we expect our attendees and participants to really get the most value from it. So the best way to do this actually is to hop into the Blueprint app, which we’ll be rolling out to everyone that has a ticket next week, hold me to that. You’ll be able to get in there, reach out to folks, and start setting up your calendar so that by the time you actually land in Las Vegas at Blueprint, to Matt’s point you could be as set up with the calendar as you’d like to be. And we imagine that some people will come there really wanting to take advantage of that and have a full schedule. And some people may come out there wanting to walk the floor or shake hands or bump fists, or the ways in which we’re going to do it. And absolutely we think the commercial networking one-to-one in group is probably the way besides of course getting together live and all the fun that that can entail, is probably the way in which people get the most value out of the event. We’re laser focused on that in our team.



Well I’m coming out from London and for me to get to this States, I’ve got to do two weeks in another country before, which right now is Mexico or the Caribbean, which lets me in. So not that I’m complaining guys, but yes I’ll be getting all my meetings set up before I arrive to make sure that LMRE gets the most out of it as well. I genuinely can’t wait to meet people in person like you said, speaking with your current clients as well, having a drink with them as well, seeing how our life has been like for the last like year and a half. This is another question some of the listeners they vary from being that real estate folks, the technologists, to founders looking for investment. What advice you can give for startups that will be showcasing that technology at the event when they’re looking for potential investments? Is that a right way or wrong way, what’s the best way to approach it?



Yes a couple of things that come to mind, certainly when we’re talking to founders I think knowing your metrics is probably a good one. So venture is obviously a milestone-based business. So knowing your metrics as a founder and knowing where to invest your resources as a company in order to kind of achieve your goals for growth is a pretty important one. And also I think at an event like this, I would say do your diligence on us as investors, especially during a time when I would argue capital is somewhat of a commodity, I think it’s good to understand the type of value that an investor adds and who is actually a good fit to help you build your company.



Thanks for that. Nima anything else you’d like to add to that, any top tips?


Top tips for start-ups looking for investment opportunities?


Yes, definitely. In real estate, there’s the common phrase, location, location, location. In venture, we like to talk about team, team, team quite often. And I think that’s the best thing that an entrepreneur can highlight is their unique experience and their team’s unique experience and why they’re uniquely positioned to capture the opportunity they’re going after. I think in PropTech, the confluence of skills required to build a successful startup are quite interesting. You need to have some sector specific knowledge and a network of operators within the real estate industry. You need to be a technologist, you need to understand how to build a product that gets utilized on a frequent basis. And so we tend to hyper-focus on the quality of the team when making an investment decision and to the extent that as an entrepreneur you can showcase that, I think that that helps guide the conversation and leads to better success in an investment process.



Vik, you mentioned it’s been two years in the making, hundreds of companies, startups, investors are all flocking to Vegas after years spent behind zoom calls, how big a party can we expect? What happens after hours, are any companies hosting my extra events?


What happens after the daytime events of Blueprint 2021?


Oh, this is going to be a gathering not to miss. But certainly we are ourselves are hosting a kickoff party and a closing party. The closing party is at the beach at the Mandalay Bay, which is a spectacular venue, also fully outdoors. And we’ve got an A+ list musical performer, going to be one not to miss. But also, I’ve been flattered as so many of our friends in the network are themselves hosting many privately without necessarily a big announcements lunches, happy hours, dinners, get togethers. There’s going to be no shortage of ways in which to meet and find interesting awesome people within this community. So many of us I think who have been really excited to get out there and in front of people and certainly for the built environment, which I think has faced such a roller coaster as past two years, this is our coming out party.



Awesome. Well I can’t wait let the countdown begin again. Now the final part guys, is the L M R E part. So L is touch on any major lessons you’ve learned in your career, M is mention anyone or product or service, a shoutout. R is what has been most rewarding part of working within the space. and E what are you most excited about in terms of the future of PropTech? So, Vik what’s one of the major lessons you’ve learned in the event space?


Lessons learned in the PropTech event space?


Oh, this has absolutely been a learning experience and a learning journey for me, probably the very top lesson that I’d want to shout out is there’s no replacement for tenacity. I think in this game and in many games, just sticking with it can take you a really long way. I’ll definitely mention, and I have to shout out our top level sponsors, heartfelt thanks from the Blueprint team to our friends at CherreNavigator CRE and Lab Ventures.Certainly we couldn’t do this without some of the folks that are behind us and it’s going to be awesome.


Easily, the most rewarding part for me has been so many of the amazing people that I’ve met as part of this journey. And I think the folks that are working on their real estate and tech sides, both of which are interesting, analytical, challenging festival living spaces tends to draw really cool people. And it’s been awesome to meet you guys included, so many of the cool folks as part of this world. And I know I am personally excited for the ways in which the various asset classes are really adopting tech, really getting in front of it, they’re really taking this as an opportunity to push the technology component of these businesses forward. I’m excited about that. I think the world over the next two years, over the next five years is going to see a very different technology ecosystem around the built environment. And we’re going to be front and center for that.



Yes, I echo that, thank you so much for that. And thank you so much for organizing one of our first major events. Matt, why don’t you go next, what’s the main lessons you’ve learned throughout your career?



Yes, I don’t know if this is really a lesson, but taking more risks and I mean that in a career sense, and definitely not as an investment advice! Something that I think that has become somewhat obvious by now, is that by almost any metric there’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur or phrase differently the risk of failure has never been lower. And so if you have conviction over an idea, I think in some ways there is actually more risk taking the “safe route” and pursuing a traditional career path than there is to join a startup or start a company in this area. And then I would like to mention to people across the organization at RXR that I have the opportunity to work with every day and especially my colleague whose name is also Matt that works with me on the venture strategy. It’s really refreshing to have the opportunity to work with such a talented group of people come from such a diverse set of backgrounds across both technology and, and real estate. And then I think Nima touched on this a little bit earlier, but what’s been really rewarding for me working in PropTech is learning from really smart people and founders every day who are taking risks and are ultimately I think, responsible for moving the industry forward.


And so for me being in a position to listen and help founders succeed in their mission is really rewarding. And what I’m excited about, I think we are still in the very early digitization of the largest asset class in the world. And I’m excited about the opportunity that lies ahead generally speaking from an investment perspective, I’m also excited to see some of the more mission-driven companies out there succeed, who are helping tackle some of these really big societal issues like climate change or access to affordable housing. I just think beyond the enterprise value that has been created, this type of impact will be exciting to see.



I echo all of that Matt thank you very much. Right Nima, obviously sounds like the other two prepped for these questions fairly well, what’s the main lesson that you’ve learned for your career?



I’ve been in a venture role for five years at this point, COVID was a very interesting moment in time for all of us, myself included for a while there I thought how could you invest over zoom? Would the industry continue operating? And obviously it did and is now going gangbusters. And I think one lesson coming out of that, and just generally in my venture career is just always be willing to challenge a previously held beliefs or assumptions. That’s particularly true in PropTech. What’s happened is all of a sudden driven by COVID in many ways, there’s been the rise of the technology driven approach to managing real estate, purchasing real estate etc and startups are filling the void that that was caused by COVID. And so a willingness to challenge my previously held beliefs is something that’s served me well, and I think we’ll continue to do so. For the M mentioning someone, I’d like to shout out my colleague as well, Lauren Weston who will be at the conference and is excited to meet folks across the real estate value chain and so please say hi to her if you see her in Las Vegas. Also a shout out to Vik and the team for traversing through this period of unpredictability and putting what I’m sure will be a great event together.


On the rewarding side I’ll echo Matt, I think that interacting with entrepreneurs is such a great part of the job, actually today is demo day at Y Combinator and I have 10 meetings lined up with entrepreneurs after this. And it always provides a lot of energy having those conversations with particularly companies at the earliest stages, a few months old. So that’s been a fun and rewarding aspect of the job. And then what am I excited about? I think one area that we’ve been exploring a lot recently is more focused on the supply side of real estate. So if you think about the last 10 years posts great financial crisis, we’ve chronically under built by almost a million units annually. And if you look at the state of the housing market today, and the fact that prices are increasing 20% plus year over year in some markets, in many ways that’s a by-product of the supply constraints that have manifested over the last decade. And so I think now’s a really interesting time for companies in the construction space, and those looking to increase the supply of real estate. And so we’re excited to spend more time in that segment of real estate.



Thank you so much all of you for joining me on the podcast, looking forward to meeting you guys. And those who want to get tickets or want to know more about it we’ll be sharing all the details of it. And you can catch them all on LinkedIn. If you’re looking to set up a meeting, obviously do it through the Blueprint website once you bought your ticket and I’m looking forward to catching up you all after the show, but thank you again for joining me.



Absolutely. So thank you so much.



Thanks for that.



Thanks Louisa



So thank you both for joining me on the podcast and looking forward to catching up the after the show. Thank you for joining us this week on the podcast and a big thanks to our guests and our sponsors CREtech and Reimtech. Make sure you visit our website where you can subscribe to our newsletter, keep up with our industry news and events or if you’re looking for your next career move it’s all on there. The Propcast can be found on iTunesSpotify and YouTube where all good content is found. Whilst you’re at it, if you found value in the show, we’d appreciate if you could spread the word and tell and friend about it or even write us a review, and I’ll catch you next week.

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