Corigin Ventures raises $36M debut fund and looks beyond real estate

Corigin Ventures has traditionally invested in real estate startups using capital from its parent company, New York real estate developer Corigin’s private investment arm. The venture investment arm, founded in 2012, has its roots tied to property all over the east coast, from Miami multi-family residences to New York University student dorms. Thus, in the past, Corigin Ventures’ investments have reflected more of the same: portfolio companies include real estate startups Compass and Bowery Valuation.

Now, Corigin’s appetite is changing. Today, Corigin Ventures closed its first institutional fund to invest in seed startups at $36 million, and its first independent fund from Corigin. With new limited partners in the mix, Corigin is pushing an investment strategy that includes marketplace and consumer startups. The firm also hired a new partner, Aubrie Pagano .

With new capital in hand, Corigin is looking to write large checks and lead seed rounds. The firm’s partners will use the debut fund to write checks between $500,000 to $1 million for pre-seed and seed stage startups. Corigin will invest across 25 companies with this fund, at roughly six to ten deals a year, according to David Goldberg, general partner at Corigin Ventures.

In the past, Corigin Ventures has invested in non-real estate startups like Imperfect Foods, a grocery and food waste startup, and Core, a meditation startup. However now, the firm is markedly moving beyond its original focus with this step outside its parent company. Corigin is looking at startups tackling areas like alternative healthcare and blue collar needs. It’s a focus that Aubrie Pagano says is leaning into the experiences for “the everyday person who is in Des Moines, Iowa.”

“So much technology has been built for a desktop and an office,” Pagano said during an interview with TechCrunch.  “We’re thinking about where the 99% is for daily life experiences.”

Pagano is not new to investing and building out startups. In 2012, she launched Bow & Drape, a women’s clothing and personalization company. She scaled her company to be featured in over 350 department stores.

From there she went into investing, which started as a “side gig” before Pagano worked with XFactor Ventures, a firm focused on female founders.

Corigin’s first fund is being announced at a time when many venture capitalists are slowing down operations and doubling down on current investments in light of the pandemic and economic uncertainty.

Pagano says that Corigin has just finished communicating with portfolio companies on concerns and stresses they’re having during the pandemic. Now, Corigin is “looking at strategically supporting our own company.”

After, Pagano said, they will resume deal-making. Looking ahead, Paganon thinks that there will be new opportunities to join in on rounds that before might have been too competitive to join. “Sometimes the round moves so fast we don’t even have a chance to look at it,” Pagano said.

Now, she says, the slowing pace of the investor world means that new investors to the block can get a second look, and for startups that might just mean a second chance at a term sheet.

The Guild launches tech-driven hotel experience

Falling somewhere between a boutique hotel experience and an Airbnb, The Guild is launching today with $9 million in funding led by Maveron with participation from Convivialite Ventures and Corigin Ventures to provide travelers with tech-driven hospitality. The startup is also officially expanding into Miami, Cincinnati and Denver. Based in Austin, The Guild has a handful of properties in Austin and Dallas.

The Guild works by partnering with building owners to operate hotel accommodations in commercially-zoned or mixed-use buildings. The Guild’s room offerings range from a mix of traditional hotel rooms to more apartment-style accommodations (think studio, 1 BR and 2 BR apartments).

Right now, The Guild leases the 290 units across its five markets, but the company is open to revenue-share and other types of financing structures down the road.  Before launching in a market, The Guild looks at the area’s walkability and the prevalence of businesses and conferences. In general, it’s paying attention to the potential for marketability. By the end of next year, The Guild expects to operate in 1,000 units across up to 10 markets.

The Guild aims to differentiate itself from traditional hotels with its technology. Guests, for example, can quickly get food delivered from services like UberEats and DoorDash, rather than pay highway robbery for room service.

The Guild also offers digital check-in and keyless entry. But the idea isn’t to replace humans with technology. While The Guild uses technology as a means of communication, there is still a front desk person on hand to help around the clock.

“We use tech as a way to connect people,” The Guild co-founder Brian Carrico told TechCrunch. “We’ve found people like human interaction and connection. Humans are fed a lot of information about why guests are there and then use that information to surprise and delight guests.”

On average, The Guild exchanges 40 text messages with every guest.

“It’s cool to see how tech can connect people and not be a substitute for people,” Carrico said.

The Guild functions as both the brand and the operator, which Carrico says makes it possible to run a viable business while ensuring workers are taken care of. For example, every single employee — which covers the front desk, reservations and maintenance, gets health insurance and equity in the company. While The Guild does not employ housekeeping workers, Carrico says the vendor it works with pays above market rate.