By Meghan Hall
The commercial real estate sector—particularly those in brokerage—have long been waiting for tech disruption. Traditional practices and workflows have long been ingrained in the industry but those at HelloOffice are looking to restructure brokerage entirely. The firm, according to CEO Justin Bedecarre, builds technologies intended to integrate the entire process of finding and customizing office space.
HelloOffice defines itself as a “modern commercial real estate brokerage,” with a goal of streamlining the office search experience. From your perspective, what does it mean to be a modern brokerage firm?
A modern brokerage needs to have culture and technology in its DNA. At HelloOffice, we build technology to help our brokers and clients be more collaborative, making smarter, faster and more cost-effective decisions. A modern brokerage removes the silos endemic in traditional firms. Our service extends beyond a single transaction. Each service we offer – from negotiating a lease, to renovating a physical space, to creating and fostering a workplace – is highly integrated. Our partnerships with clients are for the long term.
We believe the modern brokerage enables tenants, landlords, brokers and project managers to work together in a cohesive ecosystem that enables those who occupy the space to not only do their best work but also work in a place they love.
When HelloOffice was first established in 2016, what pain points within the CRE industry was it specifically seeking to solve? Why?
There were several key pain points. We wanted to give clients a truly differentiated experience, which the industry lacks in general. We also found that brokers were bogged down by manual and repetitive work due to a lack of integrated technology, which held them back from doing things that they are best in the world at. We knew that there was a better path to enabling brokers and clients to work together more seamlessly, paired with construction management and workplace services to ensure clients could access a fully integrated, custom workplace solution.
Why did HelloOffice decide specifically to focus on the office sector?
I was previously a broker with a large brokerage firm, focused exclusively within the office sector. So, when we launched HelloOffice, we immediately decided to focus on the office, and soon we’ll be expanding to other important verticals like industrial and retail as well.
What is your perception of the office industry in competitive markets like San Francisco and Los Angeles today?
We remain optimistic about major, high density cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, despite heading into an uncertain period as a result of the pandemic. Rents in both commercial and residential areas will eventually stabilize, as more people can afford to live in cities they couldn’t otherwise just a few months ago.
Los Angeles is in the early stages of tremendous growth as more technology companies recognize the talent already based in Southern California. Historically, the Bay Area has been the nation’s strongest office market, with the lowest vacancy and highest rents. And Los Angeles hasn’t been far behind. With everything that’s transpired these past few months, the workplace has shifted in favor of the employee, and rightfully so. What the pandemic has proven is the office is more purpose-driven than ever before in the history of work: the workplace brings people together to foster collaboration, serendipity and creativity. The new hybrid workplace model that we are ushering in combines enables companies everywhere to be flexible, working both in office and also remote.
Can you explain how HelloOffice operates? What specific data and tools does the platform offer in its mission to help brokers?
We’re a full stack brokerage. From negotiating a lease, to renovating a physical space, to creating and fostering a workspace custom to your organization’s unique needs, we are the single destination for the workplace. We’ve built a technology platform that enables all of those services to be integrated, allowing our clients an end-to-end experience that never before existed in commercial real estate.
HelloOffice announced at the end of June that it had raised a $20 million Series A round of funding. How does HelloOffice plan to use those funds in the future?
These funds will be invested in building our technology platform, helping our brokers continue to provide the best client experience and service in the market. We also have expanded our services to include project management and workplace strategy so companies that use HelloOffice can not only get help finding their perfect workspace but also update and design those spaces to be equipped for the modern workplace era.
In addition, we also plan to expand to new geographies beyond San Francisco and Los Angeles. In fact, we just opened our third regional office in the Silicon Valley on August 12. This office will be run by Jon Moeller, former Executive Vice President at CBRE, and Jenny Kuang, Head of Broker Operations, who will bring the HelloOffice’s full suite of workplace solutions to the Silicon Valley.
HelloOffice is currently based in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Calif. What markets is HelloOffice going to target next? Why?
Expanding our geographic footprint to the Silicon Valley comes at a critical juncture where tech companies are embracing or experimenting with a hybrid workplace. We’ve seen our high-touch, high-tech model prove successful in San Francisco and Los Angeles and we’re thrilled to have a best-in-class team in Jon Moeller and Jenny Kuang helping pave the way for tech giants in Silicon Valley.
The current pandemic has prompted the commercial real estate industry to pursue and adopt new technologies at a faster rate than ever. With so many new CRE technology platforms coming to market, what is HelloOffice doing to distinguish itself from the competition?
Technology, culture, and people are part of our DNA. We’ve built all of our technology from the ground up, so each service can be completely integrated with each other in order to provide clients with a seamless, end-to-end experience.
The workplace is a community of people who come together and collaborate in a shared space to help their company grow. With all the changes coming to traditional offices, companies have to rethink what those spaces look like and how they function. By combining our brokerage operations with workplace services, every vertical within HelloOffice will be focused on developing creative workplaces with cost-effective solutions for our clients.