It is clearly a very exciting time to be involved in the tech field of the commercial real estate sector. The amount of startups entering this field are the most I have seen in my 25 year career in this industry. What’s fueling the trend? I think it’s as simple as the fact that the commercial real estate industry was one of the last to experience the tech revolution and also the fact that the residential sector went first and proved their is big money to be made in disrupting the industry.
One of the most interesting startups I have come across recently in the commercial field is OfficeSpace.com. Their mission is simply to create an efficient marketplace connecting tenants with landlords and brokers throughout the United States. Their founder and CEO Susie Algard dreamed up OfficeSpace.com in the same way a great many other startups are born, based on her own personal experiences. She grew frustrated searching for office space as an entrepreneur and dreamed up a better solution.
I recently caught up with with Susie .
Michael Beckerman: What’s the background on OfficeSpace.com?
Susie Algard: OfficeSpace.com was born out of frustration and a need for something geared towards the tenant’s needs. As entrepreneurs, every time we needed space it was difficult to access information on spaces and buildings, it was time consuming and restrictive, not to mention a big headache. What was supposed to be an exciting time became a daunting and frustrating task. Coming from the online community, it was difficult to wrap our heads around the idea that even basic information was not available at our fingertips. You should be able to search reliable and relevant information pertaining to commercial real estate for free, anytime, anywhere – thus OfficeSpace.com was born.
We now feature over 25,000 listings nationwide (growing each day) with user friendly search filters and tools catered to both the broker and tenant community.
We’re streamlining the commercial real estate process for everyone one day at a time with the goal of helping tenants find their dream space while helping brokers close more deals.
Michael: How does your site work?
Susie: Our Site makes it simple to search for space using a map-based interface, which allows tenants to narrow in on their preferred neighborhoods. Our listings are photo-rich, include detailed information on floor plans, asking rates, and amenities.
We also allow tenants to connect to a broker immediately to start touring and eventually securing a great new space be it office, retail, industrial, medical (you name it!). We even offer services to get your space completely outfitted and ready for business.
The most important aspect of our site is that it’s free. It’s free for brokers to add listings, create professional looking flyers, access and create market surveys and build their own profiles.
For tenants, it’s completely free to search all our listings, download our IOS App, save searches, and share them while accessing important contact information on listings, brokers and more.
Michael: What’s the market opportunity for a product like yours?
Susie: There are very few resources for tenants to access commercial real estate information. Since a lease isn’t something businesses deal with everyday, the industry jargon can be confusing. We’re trying to make the search for the tenant’s ideal space as transparent as possible. While many larger companies have internal staff and expertise to handle their facility needs, most small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs do not. It’s often the CEO, CFO or office manager who handles most of the work.
The tools and education we provide is really just the first step. Our goal is to connect a qualified tenant with a qualified broker to help them complete their transaction. We don’t think tenants should have to speak to a broker in order to find out how big or how much a space is. Let the brokers focus on the higher value items they offer, whether that’s negotiating better rates or a better TI allowance.
Michael: Tell us about your current market coverage and user base?
Susie: We are a nationwide platform and have current listing information for all markets. We didn’t expect to be nationwide so soon but we had so many requests, why would we say no? That being said, we focus on a few select markets to ensure we have meaningful coverage of the available spaces. Those markets are Denver, Portland OR, San Diego and soon to be Seattle.
Michael: What is your expansion strategy?
Susie: We’re currently nationwide, but working hard to ensure we have the highest quality database while adding more properties to it each day.
Michael: Do you have a revenue model?
Susie: Yes, in short, we sell services to help brokers market their properties or market themselves. We also monetize our ability to connect tenants to qualified vendors.
Michael: What other real estate tech sites do you personally follow?
Susie: In CRE, I try and follow it all, although the list is pretty small. In the residential real estate world, I’m a fan of AirBnB, Redfin and Zillow.
Michael: How can a broker submit their listings?
Susie: Easy. Just go to www.OfficeSpace.com, click on ‘For Real Estate Pros’ to get started. It is very quick to complete and if you don’t have photos, we’ll even send out a photographer (select markets only). If you have multiple listings, please contact us to send us a file that we can upload for you. (Multiple Listings Contact)
Michael: What’s a common misunderstanding about OfficeSpace.com?
Susie: Sometimes there is some confusion about why a listing broker should submit their properties on OfficeSpace.com. They think because they are on CoStar, this is enough exposure and reach. If a broker has submitted their listings to CoStar, they should still submit to us because, unlike Costar, OfficeSpace.com allows tenants to search listings. Tenants have direct access to call and email brokers from our platform. Also, we have thousands of market surveys generated every month nationwide. This is an important tool brokers use and if your property isn’t on our site, it isn’t included in the survey.