From the first coffee I had with Poonam I knew she was the real deal.
As a serial entrepreneur fresh off of her last exit (Stealthforce – the gig economy of real estate; a resource and project management platform for CRE), I was taken aback by her passion, vision and mission.
Now, as the CEO of Raise, she is revolutionizing childcare for the future of work.
Poonam is no stranger to real estate. Prior to StealthForce, she was Deputy to the Head of Global Real Estate Asset Management at Partners Group AG ($40 bn AUM), and earlier employee 13 at The Gerson Lehrman Group, which was the world’s first institutional expert network. And she certainly has the academic accolades as well, earning her BA from Harvard and MBA from Wharton. Twice named a top female CEO in CREtech, she has been featured in The New York Times, Inc. Magazine, Harvard Business Review, NBC News, and more. She is also an author and experienced public speaker who has published four books in five languages which have been printed worldwide.
Raise is a venture at the intersection of childcare and the future of work. Solving pain points for parents, employers, landlords and tenants, RAISE is brand-driven, tech-enabled venture redefining the workplace to meet the current realities of parenthood. Creating value through landlord partnerships as a powerful tenant retention strategy, and raising the bar in coworking by enabling parents the flexibility they need, Raise is redefining opportunity for today’s working, millennial parent.
How/why did you get into tech?
My path to innovation was born out of a need. I spent over a decade in commercial real estate development and private equity, and identified a need for a better insight resourcing solution for the industry, which led me to jump ship from institutional finance and launch my first startup years ago. In building and pivoting the business, we brought on a CTO and developed a powerful tool. I since sold the business, and am now on to my next venture. It turns out that innovation for the built world really gets me excited. We have a tremendous opportunity to impact not only the way that money is made in the buying/selling of the built environment, but also in the way that the built environment affects the lives we live…and the opportunities we create. That’s the next level in entrepreneurship to me; enacting real societal change through tangible solutions that will also make a lot of money.
What role do you play in the tech ecosystem?
I’m a pragmatic entrepreneur; I’m applying an institutional mindset to universal, practical problems, and trying to build solutions that better tailor the world we live in, to the lives we are actually living! I understand how the institutions think, and how their mandates impact their ability to get behind innovative concepts…regardless of how much they think these innovations make sense.
What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2019?
Real estate as an industry is what I live and breathe, and within that there is so much evolution going on. Beyond my own corner of space as a service, I’m most intrigued by the how technology-enhanced structuring in real estate has created opportunities for normal people to make the most of real estate. Examples are the tools creating new or accelerated paths to homeownership, or reducing mortgage timelines, or even enhancing home equity with creative network effects. The possibilities are endless.
Who is a person in tech that inspires you? Why?
People who are genuinely willing to share the struggle, while it would be easier to focus on the wins, inspire me. An example is Emily Best (Founder of Seed&Spark). She wrote a great piece in Medium recently detailing the realities behind her last fundraise. She’s not inspiring me with her raise (although that’s awesome); she’s inspiring me with her honesty. That is how you lift others up.
What advice would you give for someone who wants to get into tech?
Don’t get into tech (or anything else for that matter) because you think it’s the thing to do. Get into it if you think it’s the path towards doing something interesting with your life. Not everyone sets the world on fire…but everyone needs to have momentum. And real momentum comes from caring about what you do…and making some kind of progress every day.