A new startup called 42Floors is devoted to taking away some of the pain of searching for commercial real estate, essentially by making your search for office space more like searching for your next home or apartment. It does that with a slick, web-based interface that lets users browse different offices based on location and refine searches to include both the amount of square feet needed and the cost of that space per square foot.
Founder Jason Freedman told me that he founded the startup in part out of his own frustrations with finding office space in the past. “As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve looked for office space in the past and it’s really frustrating,” he said. Looking for an office, he posits, shouldn’t be that different from looking for your dream home. But whereas the residential real estate market has generally worked hard to make its listings Internet friendly, there wasn’t a comparable way to find office space online.
The biggest issue is that there’s little transparency: In doing research for 42Floors, Freedman asked multiple brokers to share their top listings and was told that each had proprietary data. However, once he got those listings sent, each had all the same spaces listed, which all came from the same third party and had the listing house’s logo stamped on it.
To combat this issue, Freedman spent a lot of time trying to build trust in the commercial real estate community. That meant working with multiple brokerage agencies and even taking a course to become a broker himself. Once he had that trust, he was able to get listings sent to him, but then there was another issue: Each agency had its own format for those listings. Some sent Word docs, some sent PDFs, some even sent Excel spreadsheets of all the properties they had listed.
But once it had that data, 42Floors was able to add those listings into its database. Instead of just providing a list of specs and prices, the startup wanted to give potential tenants a feel for what the space looked like before they decided to check it out. So it hired a professional photographer to go around to various offices and take pictures of the space. Together with an interface that lets those searching see where different locations fall on a map, the startup has simplified the process of scanning through multiple office locations.
42Floors has launched in beta in San Francisco with plans to expand into other cities soon. The startup is offering its services for free now, but plans to take a referral fee once it’s out of beta. The 42floors team is five strong now, with 10 advisors, most of whom are from the commercial real estate world. And it’s gotten financial backing from YCombinator, SV Angel, Start Fund and Andreessen Horowitz.