26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Mihir Shah and Yishai Lerner, co-CEOs, JLL Spark and JLL Technologies

Mihir Shah and Yishai Lerner, co-chief executives of JLL Spark and JLL Technologies, the corporate venturing and technology arms of real estate developer and property manager JLL.

JLL Spark hired the duo in mid-2017 before they joined JLL Technologies two years later. The JLL Spark fund now operates under JLL Technologies. Shah and Lerner also joined JLL’s global executive board to support JLL’s property technology initiatives.

JLL CEO Christian Ulbrich said at the time of JLL Technologies’ launch: “JLL is embracing technology to meet the needs of clients today and anticipate the opportunities of tomorrow. We are reshaping the future of work and the built environment. Mihir and Yishai bring a growth mindset to JLL Technologies. Under their leadership, JLL is positioned to be a global leader in real estate technology.”

The $100m JLL Spark has invested in 20 proptech developers globally. Most recently, the fund invested in workplace sensor technology developer VergeSense, agile office-leasing service Swivel (formerly Poquito), hotel manager Life House, tenant communication platform developer HqO and furniture rental service CasaOne.

JLL Spark’s other portfolio companies include apartment management technology developer Livly, property deal management platform Dealpath and electric motor system supplier Software Motor Company.

Shah said in September 2019: “We are leveraging technology to increase the value and liquidity of the world’s buildings while enhancing the happiness and productivity of those who occupy them. We look forward to adding new talent, technology products and partnerships in the months ahead.”

Lerner added at the time: “Taking a data-driven, technology-first approach is key to building value for our clients and shareholders, and, with the rise of technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, IoT (internet of things) and software automation, there is enormous opportunity to achieve better outcomes.

“Some truly breakthrough research, innovative product development and cutting-edge consulting are happening across JLL. By aligning efforts and leveraging the best from the ecosystem, we can have an even greater impact.”

Having been entrepreneurs themselves, Shah and Lerner knew first-hand how difficult it was to bring a new product to market, especially in an industry that has been slow to adopt new technology. Therefore, their goal is to partner entrepreneurs and help them tap into the resources of JLL’s business units so they can succeed in rapidly growing their companies.

As heads of the unit, Shah and Lerner bring complementary strengths. Shah was co-founder and CEO of mobile and online recommendation service provider Mob.ly (formerly Goodrec) and knew David Gerster, now a vice-president at JLL Spark, as a product leader at internet company Yahoo and as a senior executive at daily deals platform Groupon. Lerner was also behind the sale of Mob.ly to Groupon after an early career building artificial intelligence for video games at Activision Studios. Both are also angel investors and have advised many startups, including Uber and Boom Supersonic.

They said for their GCV Rising Stars profile in 2019: “We arrived at JLL about a year before launching the fund, with a broad mandate from CEO Christian Ulbrich to help the company benefit from new and potentially disruptive advances in proptech. This led to us acquiring a small startup, Stessa, which helps residential landlords organise all the data necessary to track the performance of their properties. As we learned more about the proptech landscape, we started to realise just how massive the opportunity is, and that led to our current model of investing in proptech startups.”

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF