By Meghan Hall
For many companies, the process of finding new office space and executing a lease can be daunting, even with the help and insights of a broker familiar with the market. Traditionally, the brokerage and transaction process has remained largely the same over the years, with tenants relying on the knowledge of others in the industry — brokers, landlords, contractors — to help them make the most informed decision when selecting a new property. For Greg Fogg, one of the founders of TenantSee alongside Samantha Low, this was a fundamental problem for tenants seeking space. Those at TenantSee realized many companies started their search for space with little direction and few established parameters despite the myriad of service lines offered by brokerage firms, making the entire process more time consuming and costly. From these observations TenantSee, a tenant real estate product offering, was born in an effort to create a new brokerage-based service model, allowing tenants to make more informed decisions before they sign a lease.
“We’re in a world of data now, and what we’re trying to do with TenantSee is begin to intelligently harness that data and aggregate it for our customers to build a new service model,” explained Fogg. “Landlords have a distinct advantage in negotiations because they know every facet of their property, and the tenant is not typically as well prepared; they end up transacting at an [information] deficit.”
In Fogg’s experience, many companies begin looking for office space based on only a couple of basic facts: location and the projected number of employees. Many companies, added Fogg, have little knowledge as to how much the final space will cost after adding in additional expenses such as tenant improvement and brokerage fees.
“In many cases, what typically happens in the commercial real estate process is that companies will identify really high-level objectives — location, number of people, size — and then they engage a broker that leads the process based on search and negotiation,” said Fogg. “Those are both valuable aspects of the real estate process, but the problem is that they end up being very inefficient when the company has not been led through a process that allows them to create the optimal outcome they’re searching for.”
For those at TenantSee, that means shaking up the traditional brokerage process, using data to establish specifics on design, layout and cost before even beginning the search for space. Powered by Cushman & Wakefield, TenantSee is designed to leverage the data accrued by large-scale brokerages like Cushman & Wakefield to realize the full scope of an office project from the beginning.
“We want to talk about furniture; we want to talk about construction, whether or not the client wants a custom designed or an existing space,” said Fogg. “We want all of this stuff on the table day one, but generally people have been trained to begin the process with search. We think search should be the second phase of the process.”
According to Fogg, TenantSee also grew out of the desire to more effectively utilize the service offerings of a brokerage firm, offerings that had become disconnected from one another.
“As the brokerage business changed, both large and boutique firms began to evolve the model a little bit to provide their customers with other services such as project management or design,” explained Fogg. “The impetus for doing this was that firms recognized that there could be additional revenue created by having multiple service lines. But those service lines became silos. We wanted to establish a more full-scope offering.”
TenantSee is designed to bring all of those offerings, plus the data that powers them, together on one platform. The platform uses Microsoft Power BI technology, which was chosen, said Fogg, because of its flexibility and easy-to-use interface, allowing clients to see the information relevant to their property search in one place. The platform is comprised of two primary elements: “CREATE” and “GET.” CREATE allows clients to hash out the metrics of their potential future space and how much that space might cost using market intelligence collected by Cushman & Wakefield. GET helps TenantSee’s users to make that optimal office space a reality by organizing each step in the leasing office from design to budgeting to timeline development, legal and brokerage.
“Cushman and Wakefield is a global firm that has deep resources in all of the markets we participate in,” said Fogg. “We’ve taken the power of a global firm and pulled it together in a way that hasn’t been done before, and we’re pushing that to our customers in a more intelligible platform so they can make better decisions.”
TenantSee claims that it can mitigate overall spending by 25 percent, as well as reduce up-front capital spending by 35 percent. The platform’s website also states it can shorten project delivery timelines by up to 45 percent and condense the number of contacts needed to move a client to a new office.
“What we want our customers to do is take a step back and ask what the optimum office environment looks like, and how that impacts their people and their financials. Because that is what real estate is all about,” said Fogg of TenantSee, which has already landed several major clients since its launch in the fall of 2018.
While Fogg was hesitant to name the clients, he was confident in the continued growth of the platform—and the changing nature of commercial real estate services.
“We see TenantSee as one of the only pure expressions of a true tenant real estate process using technology,” said Fogg. “Brokerages will figure out how to take the data they have and express it, and it will evolve to mean brokerage is something totally different than it is today.”