As institutional landlords grapple with vacant buildings, and real estate startups fight for survival, one 31-year-old venture capitalist is betting his firm on the category bouncing back. Stealth until now, Los Angeles-based VC firm Wilshire Lane Partners has invested $12 million in property tech startups in the past 10 months, says founding partner Adam Demuyakor, even as the spread of Covid-19 has battered the category.
Demuyakor and Wilshire Lane have made six investments to date, alongside bigger investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and FJ Labs.
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Wilshire Lane’s investments remain small compared to many VC firms. But beyond his real estate focus, Demuyakor stands out for a mission that hinges on closing the diversity gap in the historically non-diverse category.
As one of the few Black founders and managing partners of a venture capital firm, Demuyakor says he’s using his unique position to commit that a majority of his portfolio companies have a cofounder or management team including at least one woman or minority person. Four of his six portfolio companies qualify.
“We believe that that should be the new standard,” he says. “It’s not that we are an impact fund, I just happen to be a Black man of a fund that makes investments.”
Born the son of immigrants from Ghana, Demuyakor grew up in Gwinnett County, Georgia, about an hour north of Atlanta. After completing his undergraduate degree at Harvard University, he joined Morgan Stanley as an analyst, before moving to the Carlyle Group as an associate.
When he began his MBA at Harvard in 2015, the real estate tech world was booming alongside the success of well-known companies such as real estate brokerage Compass, home-flipping platform OpenDoor and controversial office-space company WeWork. The following year, Demuyakor joined Fifth Wall Ventures, then a fledgling specialist firm and now one of the largest real estate tech investors with more than $1 billion raised across multiple funds.
Demuyakor is now looking to replicate Fifth Wall’s success, with a twist, at Wilshire Lane, which launched at the start of 2019. Half of its investments are in startups that focus on the restaurant industry, including “ghost kitchens,” a group of companies that privately manage cooking spaces and staff to deliver for restaurants struggling to meet the demands of food delivery.
Read from source Forbes
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