As the former president and CFO of Freightquote, Matt Druten has become all too familiar with the unpredictable real estate needs of large companies and startups.
When a startup starts picking up momentum, they growing in revenue and headcount and being tied down to a long term lease commitment can impair their ability to remain productive. The most successful startups, Druten says, harness that momentum and hit the ground running, determined to take the company to newer, taller heights.
This shift often happens overnight, Druten says. With added staff, the company outgrows the home office, the noisy coffee shop, and the coworking office. But the search for office space is a slow, cumbersome, and expensive process. Most importantly, the average 3- to 6-year lease doesn’t account for the uncertainty of a startup’s future. Because as rapidly as new business ideas are launched, they fold just as fast.
Here’s where Druten steps in with his newest concept, bridging the worlds of entrepreneurship and real estate.
In November, Druten and his business partner will roll out Edison Spaces in Leawood. Designed by GastingerWalker& and located 4400 College Blvd., Edison Spaces consists of an array of flexible, mid-size private offices for budding teams of entrepreneurs and flourishing small businesses. Leases are significantly less expensive and operate on a month-to-month basis, but the best part? A company can scale its office size up or down as needed, in accordance with the ebb and flow of startup life.
“Real estate is evolving quickly, and today’s companies are demanding flexible terms,” Druten said, explaining his unique perspective on the industry. “Real estate needs to be viewed as a service."
A quality office space can inspire and assist a business in reaching the "next level," he said. Offering this space and service allows businesses to be productive and focused -- not bogged down with the arduous task of finding real estate, negotiating leases, and worrying over furnishings and design.
Maximum efficiency is the top priority. Potential tenants can tour offices virtually and sign the lease online or via an app. As soon as the next day, tenants can unlock their new office door using the app, plug into WiFi, and get back to business. Flexible month-to-month leases allow tenants to resize their offices on a monthly basis, if needed.
Offices are spacious and accommodate between three- and eight-person teams. Sizes range from 300 to 1,400 square feet, and rental rates range from $1,500 to $4,000.
Each office is fully furnished and includes standard desk systems, an in-office lounge area, white boards, a coffee station, and WiFi. Large, open windows fill each space with natural light, which promotes productivity and creativity. Outside of the private office, tenants have access to business class amenities like network printers, high tech conference rooms, common areas to greet guests, a break room, and mail delivery systems.
But don’t call it coworking. This is a new niche.
“Privacy and focus are key elements of success,” Druten said, noting that his model differentiates itself from other temporary offices that only cater to one- or two-person teams.
The team’s strategy is to locate in suburban areas where there is an under-served need for the product. Druten set his intentions on attracting small businesses and startups, but has widened his focus thanks to unexpected demand from larger companies seeking satellite locations. For this crowd, an off-site office can provide space for overflow, reduce commute time, or simply remove the corporate structure and offer a space for creativity and independent thinking.
The first location debuts in November, and in the meantime, Druten is currently negotiating a second space. If the concept proves successful and demand continues to build, expansion will continue across Kansas City and eventually to other cities.
Druten says partnering with commercial brokers will be crucial to his success. He is offering office brokers a solution for existing clients looking for temporary rollover space. When tenants outgrow Edison Spaces, Druten will refer them to his partner brokers.
But in his eyes, this concept is not a real estate venture, but a business of service and hospitality.
“Real estate has evolved, and Edison Spaces is addressing new demands.”