JLL Spark’s Laurent Grill on Investing in Proptech’s Evolution

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
JLL Spark’s Laurent Grill on Investing in Proptech’s Evolution
Courtesy of Laurent Grill

On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, JLL Spark’s Laurent Grill talks about the world of proptech, COVID’s impact on the office and lowering buildings’ emissions.

Grill joined JLL Spark, the investment arm of global commercial real estate company JLL, over a year ago. The firm focuses on Series A and B investments of between $2 million and $10 million in a wide range of areas in real estate technology, including smart buildings, construction tech and tenant experience platforms — all of which have become more relevant in a post-pandemic world.


As employees filter back into offices, Grill said the purpose and experiences of those spaces will likely change for a world in which more companies adopt a hybrid or remote work model. The challenge, he thinks, will be in creating an environment that doesn’t promote employees’ isolation.

“I don't necessarily believe that the future of the office looks like a bunch of cubicles,” said Grill. “There's definitely going to be a need to create an environment where people can come back together, where we're giving them the tools to do it in a way that is exciting so that people want to be back.”

Office space is one issue, there’s also the problem of building emissions. For example, Grill said 70% of New York City’s carbon emissions come from steel and concrete. That will need to change as cities become more serious about cutting their impact on the environment.

“One of the largest emitters is steal and concrete. If we can remove that from the supply chain and build, there's a lot of ways that we can actually lower emissions. And we just saw there was a skyscraper that was built purely on mass timber, which is really, really cool,” said Grill.

Grill added that we’re likely to see a flurry of mandates in the coming years aimed at reducing emissions from properties.

“These mandates will inspire companies to experiment with tons of new technologies,” he said. “And so as compliance deadlines draw closer, we're likely to see a wave of adoption [of] we'll call it ‘smart’ buildings, which really encompasses a variety of things.”

They include rental, data and internet-of-things infrastructure technologies that can track how buildings are being used, and squeeze new efficiencies out of them.

Grill sees proptech evolving much as fintech did five years ago.

“You're gonna have tons of innovation,” he said. “And you're gonna have tons of adoption across previously antiquated industries that will allow for some really, really big players.”

Click the link above to hear the full episode, and subscribe to LA Venture on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA Engagement Fellow Joshua Letona contributed to this post.

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