Vancouver-based SpaceList recently came out its local beta and made its commercial real estate listings site available all across Canada. The startup has been ramping up its operations, adding half of its 6,000 listings over the past two weeks, with its listings representing 60 million square feet in total. The company is a graduate of the GrowLab accelerator program and is currently building partnerships with real estate companies like Cushman & Wakefield, Colliers and CBRE to automate the listings process on its site.
Founder Bill MacEwen worked in the industry and after being fed up with the process of listing a property he was managing, he decided to go out and build a more open platform. “What we’ve been working on is building an MLS or marketplace for commercial real-estate. We got started on this because I was working in the industry, I was in charge of running a 65,000 square foot office building in downtown Vancouver and I had to lease it, I had to market this space….I went to the web and didn’t like any of the options,” said MacEwen in an interview. “All these platforms had a ton of friction, and I thought why don’t we just do something that’s free and open and allows anyone to post information at no cost and anyone to see information at no cost, so that’s what we did.”
The company allows anyone to post a listing, much like they would on an apartment rental site or marketplace like Craigslist. Interested companies can fill out their information to get in touch with the listing agent, and see details like floor plans, amenities, and pricing. It has also opened up its API to partner with real estate firms Cushman & Wakefield and Colliers so that their listings get automatically published to SpaceList, with the company looking to target seasoned businesses looking for 100,000 square foot offices all the way to entrepreneurs looking for their first office space.
Rather than monetizing on the listings, the company is focusing instead on collecting and making use of commercial real estate data, similar to 500Startups-backed Compstaq. Other avenues for revenue include advertising, premium listings, and lead generation for real estate brokers. Competitor 42Floors is monetizing through a marketplace, offering services and office furniture, so that could be another avenue down the road.
Though BetaKit has also extensively covered 42Floors, which recently added $12.3 million in funding for U.S. wide expansion, MacEwen said that company differs by offering more than only office space listing by also including warehouse and retail space on its platform. Other players include CoStar and LoopNet, but MacEwen was quick to point out that those services are currently only available south of the border. While SpaceList has an opportunity to capitalize on its competitors’ lack of a presence in Canada, it will likely be harder for them to expand in the U.S. as 42Floors and other companies grow, but for the time being it looks like those competitors are focused on the U.S. market.
The company said it will continue fleshing out its API and work with additional partners to automate the listing process, while also eyeing mobile apps launches for sometime later this year. Other priority items include continuing to solidify relationships with partner real estate companies and placing a greater emphasis on marketing and promotion efforts.
Though the industry is known for its slow adoption of new technology, MacEwen added that they were looking to change that with SpaceList. “This business is kind of an old school one, and I think the industry in general has really lost sight of why it even exists. At the end of the day this business is around because companies, entrepreneurs, startups are providing rent and that’s why we have office buildings, why we have brokers, why we have landlords…we’re really trying to focus on giving that end user a better experience.”