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From start-up to scale-up

As technology start-up uTenant announces strategic investment from one of the world’s largest real estate companies. MHD sits down with Managing Director & Founder Matt Sampson and Co-founder Kyle Rogers to find out more.

While 2020 was a year of challenges for many businesses, for uTenant, it was a record year of growth.

“We’ve been gaining so much traction in the market and growing our capabilities throughout last year,” Kyle Rogers, Co-Founder at uTenant says.

uTenant is a technology platform that allows tenants of industrial property to connect directly with landlords in a confidential environment whenever they have a need to find warehousing space.

As a result of the impact uTenant has had across the industry forming in 2017, the business has generated a lot of interest from strategic investors and companies and has recently announced that global real estate giant JLL has acquired a minority stake in the technology start-up.

“This isn’t our first approach by any means,” says Matt Sampson, Managing Director and Founder at uTenant.

While uTenant’s purpose is to disrupt the industrial property market, Matt says it’s a major compliment to be approached by one of the world’s largest real estate companies.

“After a number of approaches from a mix of private and public investors, we decided to move forward with JLL because we felt they were best-aligned as a strategic investor to support our growth. This strategic alliance will enable us to continue to build out our proprietary technology, expediting our mission to become the world’s largest marketplace for industrial property and warehousing; helping connect product owners, logistics providers and landlords,” Matt says.

Stephen Conry, CEO of JLL Australia says uTenant’s strong and innovative business model is a great match with JLL. “It is a timely investment as we grow our industrial and logistics services off the back of a record year in 2020,” he says.

uTenant Managing Director & Founder Matt Sampson (left) and Co-Founder Kyle Rogers (right) have announced their collaboration with JLL.

As a Fortune 500 company, JLL will support uTenant with building out their tech capabilities, while uTenant will work closely with JLL to ensure that any occupier’s needs are being matched to all suitable property options available in the market. Combining these resources provides tenants and landlords with a community of global experts and a full overview of the property market.

The team is already growing, and uTenant has recently announced the appointment of a Head of Product and Technology, James Kerr. James will be responsible for leading the development of uTenant’s tech capabilities – including the design and build of the entire process, acquiring and integrating the matching technology and ensuring that usability and functionality are prioritised.

“This industry loves the idea of technology and efficiency, but implementation can certainly be improved, particularly in industrial real estate,” James says.

According to James, it’s surprising that while major technological transformations are happening with automation and e-commerce, finding warehouse, storage or industrial property is still largely a manual process.

“We now have the proprietary technology in place to help users with what they actually need,” he says. “In uTenant’s case, we now have the opportunity to work with JLL to bring an online service that makes sourcing warehousing and industrial property much easier for the landlord and the tenant. For the tenant, this means providing them with listings that reflect their unique storage needs in the timeframe that they require.”

uTenant is focusing its attention on building a first-rate technology platform that focuses on user experience. “We want to show the industry just how easy this all can be by providing a simple, user experience through a well-connected platform,” James says.

Hence, the company is driven to ensure that uTenant is known not just an industrial property platform, but a one-stop-shop for all thing’s logistics. “By housing all our solutions in one spot, we make it easier for the end user,” James says.

For James, while some currently see uTenant as an industrial real estate agency, this will change as uTenant becomes a central hub for all warehousing solutions. “We are pivoting the business to be the warehousing’s tech and solutions partner,” he says.

 

Future growth

As uTenant’s primary Founder, Matt Sampson has had big ambitions from day one. “We set out to disrupt this industry, and we’re very proud of what we have achieved. I’ve always known that this industry needed a new approach that increased transparency and drove a better outcome for the tenant. Now we have the support and capital to grow our platform even further,” Matt says.

The collaboration brings the market knowledge, connections, and the global resources of JLL together with uTenant’s innovative, creative, and disruptive business model.

uTenant also plans to increase its capabilities in supply chain consultancy and start to work on network optimisation and strategy with its clients.

“We don’t want to just help our clients with their property needs, we want to be able to help them throughout their supply chain journey. Whether that be through our tenders and acquisitions capabilities, our pallet matching service or through our supply chain consultancy. We want to move away from industrial property being a transaction-based industry,” Co-Founder Kyle says.

He adds that combining the strengths of two symmetrically aligned businesses excites him most about the collaboration with JLL.

“Ultimately, our growing customer base will reap the rewards as we continue to develop the ultimate match making platform for tenants and landlords. While keeping transparency and confidentiality at the heart of our mission, this partnership ensures our customers are informed and educated to make the best logistics and warehousing decisions for their business,” Kyle says.

As part of the transaction, JLL now holds a uTenant minority shareholding and board seat. It was a priority for both parties that uTenant remain independent and maintain its entrepreneurial edge.

“As this is a minority stake, we will keep our independence and drive to innovate the industry. But now we have the support of a global player,” Matt says.

uTenant will collaborate with JLL and their team nationally to ensure customers receive maximum visibility, leading market insights and opportunities.

“To be able to secure investment from JLL, especially during a global pandemic, ultimately validates our mission. I personally could not be happier for our team, our loyal customer base, and look forward to a bright future ahead for uTenant and JLL,” Matt concluded.

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