So much for the benefits of being based in Tech City. Pi Labs, property-focused tech accelerator aimed at helping start-ups become the next big thing, has decided to ditch east London altogether after announcing a deal with property firm The Collective that will take it to Bloomsbury instead.
Pi Labs, set up two years ago by Cushman & Wakefield and Spire Ventures, said it is forming a new venture with The Collective – a housing start-up founded by property entrepreneur Reza Merchant that has set out to develop "co-living spaces" aimed at young professionals.
It will move from Second Home – the Spitalfields workspace created by David Cameron’s former tech adviser Rohan Silva – to The Collective's co-working headquarters in Bedford Square next week.
As well as giving it more space for its next cohort of start-ups, the pair will also work on mentoring programmes together and a series of business-centric events for fledgling businesses. The Bedford Square building is already home to a few newly-hatched firms including interior designers DH Liberty and property auctioneer Bamboo Auctions.
Merchant said: “We’re excited to welcome Pi Labs to The Collective. Pi Labs’ vision of disrupting the property market very much aligns with the innovative nature of our own business – it’s also a natural fit with our existing community of proptech startups at 14 Bedford Square. We’re looking forward to nurturing the next wave of companies which have the potential to transform the property market.”
Pi Labs has helped fund and mentor 10 successful start-ups since its first launched in 2014, including energy saving tool Energywiser and LandInsight, a company that aggregates data to help developers find land for housing, which has already raised £350,000 of funding.
The tech hub said it is changing its focus from being solely an accelerator programme that mentors start-ups to a venture capital platform investing in early stage ventures seeking funding from pre-seed stage to Series A.
Managing partner Dominic Wilson said: "Reza is an excellent example of a young property entrepreneur who has built a large business and this is exactly the sort of experience our accelerator companies can benefit from. We are scaling our operations to invest in more small and growing proptech companies and we see this as the perfect physical space and surrounding environment to help us reach that goal.”
The Collective's first 550-bed co-living concept will open at Old Oak in west London in May, with rents starting at £220 and equipped with shared spaces for residents including co-working space, cinema, pub – and even a laundrette with disco balls.
Pi Labs will have the option of using the co-working space "to tap-into the site’s community of entrepreneurs".