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Faisal Butt – Pi Labs
Faisal Butt is the CEO and Founder of Pi Labs – Europe’s most active proptech investor, which has invested across the world and across the entire proptech ecosystem, from commercial to residential to meet demand. Faisal attended Said Business School at Oxford University, (MA: Business administration finance).
Founded in 2014, Pi Labs was the first venture capital firm in Europe to exclusively invest in proptech companies. The company positions itself as a bridge between traditional real estate companies and proptech start-ups across Europe. Pi Labs is often the first institutional investor and invests in companies from pre-Seed to Series A, with follow-on investments in later-stage rounds. Pi Labs has built a portfolio of over 55 proptech companies across UK and Europe, making the company the most active investor in proptech start-ups in Europe.
Pi Labs has successfully executed two funds, Fund I (2015) and Fund II (2017). It is in the process of raising its third fund – which already includes well-renowned investors such as GPE and Patrizia – to provide access to cutting edge proptech start-ups in Europe for institutional investors from the US and around the world.
Pi Labs’ investment in Dent Reality reflects its growing global co-investor base, having recently announced Irish multi-family office Elkstone Partners, US institutional investor Gaedeke and Swedish investment firm Europi, amongst others, as LPs in its third institutional fund. Earlier this year, Pi Labs also co-invested alongside former Amazon executive Jeff Wilke and US VCs TenOneTen Ventures and Matchstick in warehouse management platform Fulfilld’s $2.5 million seed round.
Bob Goodson – University of Oxford – Quid
Bob Goodson is a University of Oxford graduate who founded Quid alongside physicist Sean Gourley in 2010 after completing his masters in medieval literature and language theory.
He saw an opportunity to create a platform combining his interests in technology, language and business and Quid was born. The platform was launched in 2014 and Goodson and his team were awarded a patent for entity performance analysis, alongside a Technology Pioneer from the World Economic Forum two years later.
Quid is a private software and services company which has been created to specialise in text-based data analysis. The software is designed to read documents and organise the content visually in order to provide insights. The insights can help customers such as technology firms to analyse investment trends, map innovation and even gain competitive intelligence.
Clients have included corporations across a variety of sectors including consulting, finance, healthcare and government organisations with the company now employing over 120 people. Quid has also been named as one of the World’s Top 10 Most Innovative companies in Big Data by Fast Company and was also presented with the Technology Pioneers award by the World Economic Forum.
The company is currently based in San Francisco and merged with NetBase in 2020.
Grace Beverley – University of Oxford – TALA
Grace Beverley is an influencer and a University of Oxford graduate who has founded an activewear brand, TALA. Whilst completing her A-Levels, Grace began influencing by posting workout routines and creating blogs to build upper following.
As she started university, Grace continued to film and founded her company, TALA. TALA offers ‘sustainable style without compromise’, checking all accreditations of suppliers and only working with those who value sustainability.
Grace also wants her suppliers to maintain ethical practices, ensuring that she understands how her supply chain works to avoid exploitation. Even the tags on her clothing are plantable, filled with seeds and bound in hemp twine to ensure they are completely biodegradable.
Alongside running TALA, Grace us a published author and her book was a Sunday Times #1 Bestseller, titled Working Hard, Hardly Working: How to Achieve More, Stress Less and Feel Fulfilled.
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Thomas Whitfield – University of Oxford – Oxford BioLabs
Oxford BioLabs was founded by Thomas Whitfield, a University of Oxford graduate in 2008. The company was created as a Limited Liability Company by a group of scientists including Thomas, with German based Research Facilities. The company focuses on the research and development of a range of health and beauty therapies, with the most well-known being a hair growth product.
The founders, NESTA and the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship bootstrapped the company, which specialises in manufacturing and distributing dietary supplements. The supplement which has received the most media attention is TRX2, named after the Greek Trichos for hair with the 2 referring to the fact the supplement is second generation. It is designed to reduce hairloss through engaging potassium channels, allowing them to reabsorb the nutrients which are essential for growth.
The product did not need to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration because it is not technically deemed as a drug. All products offered by Oxford BioLabs are designed to help customers avoid signs of ageing through scientifically tested and drug-free nutraceutical products. The team’s research is conducted by world-class scientists with therapies and ingredients deemed to be natural.
Kabir Bali – University of Oxford – Jumpstart
Jumpstart was founded by Kabir Bali, a University of Oxford graduate who has set up the company with the aim of helping recent graduates to enter the world of start-ups.
Jumpstart is the only graduate start-up programme to exist within the United Kingdom, and graduates can apply to the scheme in under 30 seconds.
The scheme runs every two months, and helps graduates to decide which role they think will suit them best with over 40 hours of hands on training offered. Jumpstart also runs start-up spotlights, where start-up companies have the opportunity to explain to recent graduates why they should join their company. This is designed as a unique experience and almost reverses the job hunt, as those seeking employment usually have to explain to potential employers why they are the ideal candidate. The start-ups featured are deemed to be the most exciting available, sought out by Jumpstart.
Jumpstart also supports diversity in the workforce by actively encouraging applications from minority ethic groups and women.
Aron Gelbard – Bloom & Wild
Aron Gelbard founded Bloom & Wild after graduating from the University of Oxford. Bloom & Wild has grown to become one of the most popular flower delivery services in the United Kingdom. The founders believe that both sending and receiving flowers should be a joy, which has driven them to create an easy to use yet beautiful service.
The founders of Bloom & Wild are also inspired by their customers stories, motivating them to create orders which are packed and treated carefully. They also offer a bunch called Florst’s Pick, where 15% of the profits donated from the sales are donated directly to Carers Trust, providing respite breaks to carers.
They also try to operate more sustainable, with a responsible supply chain, The letterbox packaging is 100% recyclable and the company offsets their own carbon emissions. No waste from the company’s warehouses is sent to landfill, and the company has invented the Thoughtful Marketing Movement with the aim of treating customers like close friends.
Anne-Marie Imafidon – STEMettes
STEMettes was founded by University of Oxford graduate Anne-Marie Imafidon in 2013. Anne-Marie specialises in mathematics and computing, and was later joined by her co-founder Jacquelyn Guderley. The company is a social enterprise aiming to encourage women between the ages of 5 and 25 to pursue careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) sectors.
In order to achieve this, the company organises hackathons, panel events and also a Student to STEMette mentoring programme. This programme is currently supported by Deutsche Bank, OtotheB and Outbox Incubator to support women and girls interested in STEM and entrepreneurship.
STEMettes has received recognition for their wrork, named as European Digital Impact Organisation of the Year in October 2014 by the Digital Leadership Institute.
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Jasmine Richards – Storymix
The company specialises in locating talent before pairing them with ideas developed by the in-house team. They are experts in the creation of children’s stories centred around children of colour which are also filled with adventure and happiness. The company values representation within each of the narratives.
Storymix produced books of high quality and high concept for their publishers and also collaborates with various writers and illustrators from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. This creates paid publishing opportunities and also provides platforms for growing talent. The company works with both emerging and established writers and illustrators regardless of their experience, and aims to reflect the diversity of the world around them whilst creating entertaining stories.
Husayn Kassai, Eamon Jubbawy & Ruhul Amin – Onfido
Onfido was created in July 2012 by 3 University of Oxford graduates Husayn Kassai, Eamon Jubbawy & Ruhul Amin to help businesses verify people’s identity through photo based identity documents. In addition, customers provide a selfie and artificial intelligence algorithms are in place to ensure the verification takes place successfully.
Onfido is based in London and has offices all over the world, including in San Francisco, Albuquerque, New York, Lisbon, Paris, Berlin, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Singapore with over 400 employees worldwide.
The founders believed that normal identity checks were not efficient enough and set out to create a better system. They wanted the solution to be based on machine learning, helping customers gain easier access to digital services, increase fraud protection and maintain user privacy.
The company originally secured seed funding of £20,000 from Oxford University to kickstart the business and has since secured $4.5 million from their series A funding round. In 2019, the company had reached 1,500 customers and completed over 10 million identity checks.
Thomas Blomfield – Monzo, Starling Bank & GoCardless
Thomas Blomfield is an alum from the University of Oxford who has founded multiple companies taking over the world of online banking. During his studies, he received £1,000 from winning a business plan competition where he proposed an “eBay for students”. This proposal was called Boso.com and it grew to reach 50 UK universities. The business was eventually sold to a Canadian company for and was transformed into Auctomatic, which is a power selling tool designed for users of eBay.
Blomfield went on to study at Université Panthéon-Assas between 2005 and 2006, before he returned to Oxford to study for a master’s degree in Law before ultimately deciding he dud not want to become a lawyer.
After his degree was completed he began work as an associate consultant before founding GoCardless in January 2011. The company received a £125,000 investment from Y Combinator and raised £35 million of investment, hiring 100 extra staff within the first three years. Blomfield then went on to work with Anne Boden and together they worked to promote Anne’s company, Starling Bank. At this time, Starling was one of the first digital banking companies, and Blomfield worked with Anne until 2015 when he founded his own digital banking company, Monzo.
During the first fundraising round, Monzo raised £1 million. In 2019 the company remained operating without branches and instead specialised in offering accounts online. In January 2021 Blomfield announced that he would be leaving Monzo.
Dave Sherwood – BibliU
While studying for his masters at Oxford University, Dave struggled with inconsistent educational provision. The price of university textbooks had risen by four times the rate of inflation since 1977, leaving students to pay a hefty bill, or forgo important materials. While digital access was mostly unavailable or offered a flat, PDF-like experience. In fact, 70% of UK students admit to having skipped buying course-required textbooks.
After realising the urgent need for change in the quality and accessibility of educational resources, Dave dropped out of Oxford University to found BibliU, which is now the UK’s leading provider of cost-effective digital content, supporting over 65 universities and accessible by 50% of the UK’s university student population. Built with functionality in mind, the BibliU platform was created to allow universities to automate their content workflows and improve affordability and accessibility to high-quality digital textbooks, while also remedying distribution issues for textbook publishers.
Oxford University was one of the first institutions to utilise BibliU’s learning enablement technology for its students, with BibliU incubated out of the Oxford investment fund. Over the past three years, BibliU’s annual recurring revenue has grown by 300%. BibliU further solidified its position as a market leader by closing a $10m Series A funding round in April 2020. Today, BibliU provides its solutions to more than 160 higher education institutions globally, such as Cornell University, Grand Canyon University, Occidental College, MIT, Coventry University, and Oxford. Every month, students spend 500,000 study hours on the BibliU platform. Dave has also been included on the 2019 Forbes 30-under-30 list.
Under Dave’s guidance, BibliU proved instrumental during the pandemic, as its embedded smart features enabled students to transition more easily and effectively to remote learning, where they benefited from collaborative textbooks, automated quizzes, and improved digital functionality. Regardless of the study area, class, ethnicity, or language barrier, students from all backgrounds can take advantage of these smart features in high-grade academic literature across cornerstone publications such as Pearson, Wiley, and McGraw-Hill.
Akeel Malik – Ark
Akeel Malik is the brilliant and inspiring 26-year-old co-founder of Ark.
Ark was launched in 2021 to help bridge the gap between landlord and tenants by forging better relationships between residents in rented accommodation and their neighbours, their community, and their landlords.
The company offers two distinct services. First is its a free online compliance tool and custom tenancy agreement generator which saves landlords time and money. The platform allows landlords to manage multiple homes on a single dashboard, one via which they can oversee payments, renewals, maintenance and document storage.
Crucially, the platform also helps landlords remain compliant, with automated reminders to help landlords keep on top of rules and regulations affecting their portfolio,
A second strand of the business sees Ark work with developers, investors and social housing providers using software to harness communities with a lifestyle app for tenants – a service it currently offers to clients across the country.
The technology on offer means that Ark can provide residents with a hub,and help to establish new communities, which it says, make residents happier, safer and more loyal. To date the company is working with Urban Splash and Halton Housing.
Away from Ark, Akeel has enjoyed an exciting career. In the years since leaving school, he has achieved a huge amount through his unique entrepreneurial drive, vision and ambition.
He attended the Manchester Grammar School, before studying Economics and Management at the University of Oxford. When he was at Oxford, he co-founded an EdTech platform called Aula which received $4.2m funding in 2018. He is also fund manager for the Urban Splash Residential Fund.
Saurabh Saxena – houzen
London-based Saurabh Saxena is Founder of houzen, the fastest supply-side sales and lettings engine on the market. He is on a mission to take proptech to the next level, using machine learning and AI to solve real estate problems in the world’s largest cities.
Coming from an investment background, Saurabh brings a deep understanding of the real-world value of information and efficiency to the property sector. His career has included senior investment positions at Accenture UK, IBM, Advention, Quandoo and A.P. Moller – Maersk, with 12 years spent focusing on mergers and acquisitions, private equity, strategy and operations. He led or worked on collective investment deal value of more than £20 billion, working across 20+ industries over three continents.
With an MBA from University of Oxford and an engineering degree from RGPV, as well as being a double certified master black belt in Lean and Advanced Statistics from Accenture, and ISI, Saurabh has advised CEO/CFOs of Fortune 200 companies and bulge bracket private equity funds across three continents on strategy, investment and growth topics.
Saurabh’s extensive experience of investments is being applied to the property sector to impressive effect. By reducing the time taken to sell or let a property to near real-time, the cost of the transaction (to the seller or landlord) comes down considerably. Saurabh is pushing this mission forward through houzen, having landed Greystar as his first client and since working with some of the leading players in residential real estate (Invesco, L&Q, EcoWorld and many more).
Specialising in working with large-scale accommodation providers, while also creating tech solutions for real estate investors, Saurabh believes in using Big Data and deep tech to their full potential. His wealth of real estate, investment and technology knowledge positions him perfectly to achieve this.
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