Chris Rolls, an Australian entrepreneur has launched PieLab, a real estate venture capital fund to support and grow service providers of which underpin the real estate industry.
Originally the founder of Rental Express (a residential property management business based in Queensland Australia), Mr Rolls is raising $20 million to invest in business that provide services to the real estate sector.
Mr Rolls commented “The PieLab Real Estate Industry Venture Capital Fund 2016 will invest in a small handful of the most promising service providers, helping them grow so they can service real estate agencies across Australia and even overseas.”
“There’s a lot of interest from investors inside the industry, so our focus will be on raising funds predominantly from people who own real estate agencies to invest in businesses that provide the services to these same agencies,” he said.
“It’s a strategy that will see investors lining up to be customers of the businesses the fund has invested in, increasing returns for the fund and in turn those that invest in it – like investing in Coles, then buying a bag of oranges from Coles.”
Chris Rolls has quite the successful background, in 2001 purchasing a real estate office in Brisbane, Australia for $6,000, developing the business to become one of the largest real estate sales within the real estate brand.
In 2006 he started Rental Express, which over the course of 10 years he grew to become Queensland Australia’s largest residential property management business, with over $1.5 billion worth of real estate under management across 300 suburbs in Brisbane.
Mr Rolls sold Rental Express in December 2015 to Paul Little, founder and chairman of Little Real Estate.
“I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years, and it’s still very ‘cottage’ and labour-intensive. That’s why I think it is important to invest in technology and consolidation with a focus on improving efficiencies, services and processes for the sector,” Mr Rolls said.
The PieLab Real Estate Industry Venture Capital Fund is calling for expressions of interest from the key influencers among Australia’s residential real estate agencies. The fund will invest in start-ups across a range of industries, from software providers to compliance services.
“Unlike normal venture capitalist funds, which provide financing and expertise, PieLab will also be able to provide a customer base to their investee businesses,” Mr Rolls said.
“And the icing on the cake is the structure, with the fund having submitted its application to become a registered Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnership, which, if granted, will result in the profits to investors being income and capital gains tax exempt,” he said.
In addition to his ventures in the real estate industry, Mr Rolls founded SCODY Performance Wear, whose products have been worn by athletes at multiple world championships and the Olympic Games.