Cento Ventures’ new fund to tap growing proptech sector

By Amy Tan / EdgeProp Singapore | February 15, 2019 1:00 PM SGT
Every week, Pauline Chong, principal at Cento Ventures, looks at some 10 different proptech companies for consideration for inclusion in the early-stage investor’s new $50 million proptech fund. Based in Singapore, Cento Ventures is a Series A venture capital firm focused on under-invested emerging digital markets in Southeast Asia.
Chong joined the company at the end of last year with a specific focus on proptech. Loosely defined, proptech is the use of technology to create or render services in the real estate sector to buy, sell, rent, develop, market and manage properties in a more efficient way.
Managing a generalist fund, the company is now targeting opportunities in Southeast Asia’s growing proptech sector. “What happened was pretty organic. There was just an increasing number of proptech or property-related start-ups that started contacting Cento,” she recounts.
Given the breadth of the scope, Cento has narrowed its search to proptech companies that are developing technologies around data analytics and customer experience. These include tech-enabled brokerages that are working to streamline the sales, tenancy and leasing process. “We are also focused on things like productivity tools that foster customer and tenant engagement in the ecosystem,” says Chong.
Pauline Chong of Cento Ventures (Credit: Samuel Issac Chua/Edgeprop Singapore)
Evolving sector
Initially, the companies in this space were mainly property portals that took the form of digital marketplaces offering real estate listings. However, Chong is now seeing an evolution in the proptech space with more start-ups looking to address the needs in facilities management. “This is a segment that is typically plagued by high volumes, administration processes and low margins,” she says.
This segment has also seen a rise in solutions from hardware providers which are leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) to perform functions like environmental monitoring, improving energy efficiency and even providing alternative energy sources like rooftop solar. The IoT is a network of devices that contain software that enables them to connect and exchange data.
Some start-ups are also working on reducing the administrative process for sellers and buyers by providing valuation of properties and indicating the right documentation to use. There is also an increase in tech-enabled brokerages that allow users...