Maybe two or three people reading this blog will get the reference :) I know my friend Jeremy Neuer will. My buddy Charlie Sciarra will get it, for sure. It's a classic rock and roll quote of legendary proportions when then music critic Jon Laundau wrote a review after seeing Bruce Springsteen perform a concert early in his career in Boston.
So when I recently got caught up with my friend Mark Gilbreath, CEO/Founder of
Liquidspace, I think I had the same feeling that Landau had. Seriously, unequivocally blown away.
If you don't know Mark, he is quite an impressive guy. He talks fast and with great passion, but also uses language that is impactful, and meaningful. Like so many great entrepreneurs, he could sell ice to an Eskimo. The dude is that good on his feet. He's that impressive. And his background and journey lend even more weight to his personal narrative. And most important to me, he is a super humble, decent and good dude. The kind you can't help but like. And I do. A lot.
But putting all of that aside, when you take a tour through his site and playbook, as I did one August day, it's quite shocking. When you really see what Mark and his team have built and understand their vision, it takes your breath away. And you quickly realize that this guy is building the future of commercial real estate leasing. (BTW, my only regret with Mark is that I wasn't his first investor. Oh yeah, that was Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn and very early investor in Facebook!)
What Mark and his team have built is an end-to-end leasing platform that serves all three of the major food groups… tenants, landlords and brokers. To me, that's the most amazing part. All three of the major forces in a lease transaction win on Liquidspace. No one gets displaced. In fact, everyone in the transaction comes out ahead and has their own respective goals met much more efficiently.
The tenant sees a transaction closed in weeks, not months or years. A broker saves time in the process and gets paid. The landlord gets to list their space and gets more deals done faster. And by the way, these aren't small or short term deals. These are sometimes large leases for major corporations and for multiple years.
Today, you would be nuts as a tenant to not consider leasing space on more flexible terms and conditions than the typical long term lease. Not to suggest that for major corporate requirements a longer term lease isn't critical, but for a satellite office, for a temporary workspace solution and for the flexibility to accommodate the often unpredictable nature of growing a business, the flexible model is a great solution.
But besides filling the void for this type of space solution, the real brilliance of Liquidspace is in the HOW. The entire leasing process has been reengineered on their platform. From space selection to the actual lease document, which has been completely rebuilt with the input of countless industry pros, to closing the deal and collecting the rent... every aspect of the lease is digitized on Liquidspace. That's the brilliance of the platform. It's AIrBnB for leasing. It completes the entire process for all parties. Effortlessly. Seamlessly. Brilliantly.
I asked Mark what his ultimate vision is and this what he said…
“The time has come to reconsider the end to end experience for office leasing. Transformative platforms like Amazon, Airbnb and Lyft and have delighted customers with more choice and simple, delightful consumer experiences. At the same time they've grown the overall size of their respective markets for the vendors who have engaged. There is no reason that CRE can't achieve the same outcomes. With over millions of user transactions under our belt at LiquidSpace, we've learned a heckuva a lot about delighting customers. We started by tackling transactions by the hour/day supporting professionals on the go in need of professional space to meet and work. And we are now excited to partnering with many of the biggest owners and operators of office to applying our learnings to much larger and longer term transactions. We see no limits to what can be done.”
I also asked Mark about how tenants have changed in their view of the leasing experience as well. Here’s what he had to say. Very insightful…
"Tenant expectations have changed. The business imperative for flexibility and economic efficiency has led companies to rethink their real estate portfolios and how their people work. Core + Flex is the new reality.The CRE industry needs to respond to a world accustomed to the simplicity and speed that many other platforms are offering in industries outside of commercial real estate."
What I think the commercial real estate sector has lacked to date is a better way of doing things. More than just looking at more data points (which is super important), more than just getting information faster and with more accessibility (which is critical), what has not been seen to date is a better way to transact for ALL parties.
That's a big idea. And that's what, in my humble opinion, Liquidspace is doing.
And to me it's the future of commercial real estate leasing.
P.S. - I got a demo for a new product Mark and his team are going to launch soon and if I was a landlord I would request a demo asap!