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CVC series, part 5: Crossing the internal chasm 

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As a strategic corporate venture capital firm, JLL Spark Global Ventures drives value to JLL, our clients, and our startups through the match-making of cutting-edge new technologies. Spark’s main goal is to align our investments with the strategic priorities of JLL and our clients. To achieve this, we engage in in-depth discussions with all levels of the organizations to ensure that new technology investments can (1) improve JLL’s internal efficiencies to help save costs or streamline processes, (2) address client challenges, (3) disrupt existing business practices, or (4) introduce new areas of business for JLL. In all four scenarios, our portfolio companies collaborate with the business in some capacity over time. 

As a result of our strategy, we also help our portfolio companies prioritize product requirements through delivering client insights, which also helps them improve their selling processes, client support, and marketing motions. It can also potentially lead to commercial sales arrangements. The level of support Spark provides to our portfolio companies depends on factors such as their alignment with JLL and client priorities, and the maturity of their product. 

As an example, in 2018, Spark invested in VergeSense, a company that developed a spatial analytics platform for real-time data on building occupancy and utilization. The company worked closely with a Spark Growth Principal to help them navigate through the JLL organization and deliver insight, distribution, and revenue through JLL and our clients. Extensive discussions with the sales team revealed that clients were seeking a technology solution to better understand space utilization for return to office strategies and portfolio rationalization. The Spark team worked very closely with the business to establish a reseller agreement with VergeSense, integrate their technology solution into JLL’s technology stack, provide support for the sales enablement process, and ensure effective training for the sales team on the solution. The outcome was a successful partnership between JLL and VergeSense, effectively addressing a client’s need and driving revenue growth for the portfolio company. 

Another example of how Spark drives value to our portfolio companies, is the startup qbiq, an AI-powered test fit and space visualization solution. This technology supports JLL’s internal needs by providing brokers with powerful tools that enhance their ability to close deals through improved visualization of spaces for clients. JLL signed a license agreement with qbiq, underwent product training, and established an internal process for distributing the product to brokers. Since implementation, the solution’s usage among brokers has grown exponentially due to positive client feedback. As a result, JLL and qbiq have formed a strong partnership to improve internal processes, and other JLL business lines are now exploring additional use cases with the company. 

Although different use cases and end-users, both VergeSense and qbiq are examples of how Spark helps our startups cross the chasm. This is an area critical to every startup’s success. The Spark team collaborates closely with key internal stakeholders and our entrepreneurs to help mature the products until they reach mainstream commercialization, which drives sales and revenue growth.  

As a corporate venture capital firm, it is challenging to drive strategic value for the business. However, through collaboration with executive leaders at JLL from each business line to understand their strategic priorities, to working with startups to understand and align their vision, we seek to maximize strategic impact using Spark portfolio company technologies. This allows us to work closely with our portfolio companies to deliver insights, distribution, and revenue, promoting growth and maturity. And it’s fun!  

Written by Danny Klein, VP of Innovation at JLL Spark

Interested in a strategic partnership with JLL Spark? Apply for an investment here.