The start-up has developed a replicable neighbourhood revitalisation and business model that aims to deliver a social return on investment.
Urban-tech start-up, Venn, has completed its Series A round with a total funding to date of $40 million to refine and advance its replicable and scalable model for urban revitalisation.
It plans to use the investment to increase operations from three to multiple cities across the US and Europe. It is targeting 100 cities by 2030 and is also investing in its research and development capability.
Investors include Pitango Venture Capital, Hamilton Lane, on behalf of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, and Bridges Israel.
Currently operating in New York, Berlin and Tel Aviv, Venn’s mission is to reimagine community life in a world where more people than ever are living in cities. Housing shortages and soaring real-estate prices have led 35 per cent of American urbanites to opt for developing neighbourhoods.
Venn’s community revitalisation model is based on managing homes and shared spaces on a neighbourhood-scale, supporting local businesses, and facilitating resident-led events through a digital platform and personal assistant app. Through its investment and community-building in these areas, Venn aims to create urban neighbourhoods that are more affordable but with no less vitality than the downtown core.
“We love the city. It keeps us energised and inspired. But we think it can be done differently – and better,” said Or Bokobza, co-founder and CEO at Venn. “There’s an entire generation of people searching for a more meaningful, connected way of urban living.
“Somewhere within the madness of city life, they want more time to see friends, explore interests, and make an impact. Venn is reinventing the urban neighbourhood by equipping our community of young urbanites with the tools they need to connect, collaborate and build a home beyond their houses.”
Venn was founded in 2016 as an urban renewal experiment in Shapira, a run-down neighbourhood in Tel Aviv. This experiment inspired a vision for a replicable, sustainable and profitable model to transform neighbourhoods into true communities.
“We love the city. It keeps us energised and inspired. But we think it can be done differently – and better”
Its motto is: ‘if they build it, they will stay’. Venn breaks from the conventional co-living/working paradigm with its commitment to empowering residents to build fully flourishing communities, via volunteering, community participation tools and job creation.
The company’s financial model also reinvests revenue directly back into the neighbourhood with local small business support, cultural and creative projects, educational opportunities, safety initiatives, and programmes to minimise displacement.
“When it comes to cities that are becoming homes to more people every day, investment must be sustainable and forward-thinking – there is no room for small dreams,” said Chemi Peres, managing general partner and co-founder of Pitango. “Venn stands out from other real-estate developers or proptech start-ups in their belief that neighbourhoods need a better business model, whereby social return on business is just as important as return on investment.
"Venn encourages the sector to view real estate as a long-term ongoing process and community engagement is the only way to sustainably transform developing neighborhoods.”
Since its launch in Tel Aviv, Venn has generated local economic growth by backing 35 local businesses and supporting 590 neighbourhood events and activities attended by 11,350 people. In 2018, Venn expanded to Friedrichshain, Berlin and Bushwick, New York.
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