Startup Real Estate

Startup Real Estate

Startup Real Estate

So you’ve started your dream company, ready to take on the whole world with your market altering product. You have your MVP (or not).You have product-market fit (or not). You have your VC money in the bank (or not).

Startups encompass all the above stages and many others as well. One need, regardless of the size or stage in the lifecycle you find yourself, you and your team need is a place to sit. Or if you want to be trendy, stand. There are a variety of startup real estate options available. Below is a list and brief description of each option in general order, from early stage to later.

Your garage. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both started there. So did Walt Disney. Now it’s your turn. The garage — or your apartment if you live in NYC — is often the best place for you to start.

Pros: The commute is great and the price is right.

Cons: Car exhaust, no contact with the external world during the work day.

Coworking. Coworking has been the next big thing in office space for most of the last decade. Coworking spaces happen when someone rents a large block of space (usually at least 10,000 square feet or more) and then rents out individual desks or groups of desks on a short term basis. Many of these are month to month; some require a slightly longer term. There are both dedicated and floating desk options. You can office with other like-minded individuals as these spaces have a mix of entrepreneurs, writers, designers, salespeople, bloggers, engineers, filmmakers, nonprofits, and service providers.

There has been a huge proliferation of coworking spaces, especially in cities with large tech clusters. In August of last year, there were nearly 40 different locations forcoworking in New York City. Prices for desks at coworking facilities range from $300-700 per month.

Pros: Coworking is generally very collegial. No more talking to yourself in the mirror.

Cons: Hearing your neighbor talk about his or her personal problems all day.

Executive Suites. Not many startups turn to Executive Suites, because the cost ends up being more than a startup wants to pay. The benefits are there though; you get your own office or offices as well as the flexibility of short term leases. As with coworking, many are month to month and a long term deal here would be a year. In many ways, these are grown-up coworking spaces and they have been around for decades.

Pros: Flexibility! Access to shared conference rooms and kitchens.

Cons: Many don’t have “the look and feel” that startups like.

Sharing space with another company.  This is a good bet once your team grows to more than a handful. A lot of coworking environments aren’t geared towards medium sized teams. This option keeps you from having to sign a long term lease and has the added benefit of being around another startup. Shared spaces can be hard to find, however. The best bets here are to reach out to your network orPivotDesk.

Pros: Short term. Getting to show off your commitment issues in a whole new facet of life.

Cons: You still don’t have the space to call your own.

A lease with your name on it. You’ve made it…by one metric at least. None of the aforementioned options are sufficient to handle teams of any significant size. Once you get past 10 to 15 people, your sharing options are more limited. Though, you have many more options as the other 95 or more percent of the real estate market is now open to you.

Another…err…sub-option here are subleases. These are much harder to come by than a traditional lease. A lot of them never even hit the market and are just passed through personal networks and brokers. Subleases are a nice option as you can sometimes get slightly below market terms and you can find them for shorter durations.

Pros: Signage, a.k.a. your name on the marquee (or door).

Cons: Most landlords will require a 3 to 5 year term…and they will think 3 years is short!

So those are your options. Aside from not having your garage listed, TheSquareFoot aggregates all of the other options. Happy hunting!

Jonathan Wasserstrum

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