Please Rotate Your Device
In recent years, thanks in part to the emergence of and popularity of co-working spaces, commercial real estate has begun to be rethought. Some of those innovative changes are coming from SquareFoot, a technology-powered commercial real estate company that recently crossed our radar.
The company, which is headquartered in New York City but works with clients in major cities all over the country, offers greater transparency on its website than has been typically published in the past.
You can go to the SquareFoot homepage and search for listings in your area to find out about which neighborhoods nearby have available office spaces and what those spaces cost. Rather than keeping prospective clients in the dark at the start of the search process, SquareFoot gives their clients more information and more insight for comparison.
But if the technological component wasn’t enough for disruption, SquareFoot went a step further this season by introducing FLEX by SquareFoot. I conducted a short interview, below, with SquareFoot Founder / CEO Jonathan Wasserstrum to learn more about how they’re thinking differently than others about lease terms.
Wasserstrum: I started SquareFoot in 2011 while still in business school to tackle an unmet need - businesses that needed office space but weren’t big enough for the big players to work with them. A buddy of mine called me one day asking how he could find office space, knowing that I had worked for several years at JLL before I went to grad school.
As I tried to help him, I realized that nobody was really thinking about this market. And I knew that more and more companies were going to be starting their search online so, when I graduated, I decided that SquareFoot would be both my passion project and my next professional pursuit.
Since then, we’ve closed over 1,000 deals representing all kinds of companies, small to big. Whatever growth stage your company is about to embark on, we can help you. And as you get bigger, we’ll get you into the next space, too.
Wasserstrum: We’ve had a number of clients who found office spaces they loved who grew frustrated and despondent after they discovered they’d have to sign a five-year lease or lose out on the space. Ultimately, they’d wind up walking away and starting their search over, hoping to find something else they liked as much.
So we determined we could do something about it once and for all.
In certain cases, when a client finds the space they want but not the term they desire, we at SquareFoot will sign the lease ourselves to ensure that they can move in.
We will then hand them the term they prefer.
Our feeling is that it’s better to have more happy clients in the spaces they want, and if we have to fill that space in a few years from our roster of other clients looking for two or three-year leases, we will. We have access to other companies that will be seeking something similar and we always have a pulse on it, enabling us to make smarter bets.
Wasserstrum: It’s not a trivial, or riskless, matter.
You need to know who is looking for what, where - in order to make the right bets. You need to be in front of people looking for space -- in order to be able to fill it.
You need to be able to do it at scale in order to finance it and to have it make sense. In the past, different groups have been able to do different pieces of the puzzle; we’ve been able to put the puzzle together.
We know better than anyone what it takes as a company that size because we are a company that size - 55 people and growing - that recently moved offices ourselves. We have long led lease negotiations on behalf of our clients with empathy. The addition of FLEX now means that the services we offer, and are known for, convey that empathy that we are founded on.