Real Estate Platform TheSquareFoot Nets $2M, Expands to NY
Th SquareFoot, a Houston-born and now New York-based online platform for commercial real estate, has raised $2 million in seed funding following its expansion into the Big Apple.
“Being in New York is a very different animal,” says Justin Lee, a SquareFoot co-founder. “The commercial real estate market in New York is super, super competitive right now. The demand far outweighs supply especially for tech companies which are all looking for the same size and type of space.”
Still, the opportunities were such that Lee and the other co-founders decided to relocate the company from Houston to New York this year.
To help support its expansion, the company raised the seed money from investors Primary Venture Partners and RRE Ventures, both based in New York. The money will be used to make about 20 hires this year—more than doubling the current staff of 14—to help build out its marketing and sales in the New York market, Lee says.
While companies like Seattle-based Zillow have focused on the residential real estate market, some entrepreneurs like Lee and his partners zeroed in on the market for office space. In addition to The Square Foot, other companies trying to compete in this sector are Real Massive, Ideal Spot, and Zonability, each based in Austin, TX.
“When we started four years ago, most people looked at commercial real estate as the last industry to really start adopting technology,” Lee says. “We’re making strides to change that.”
The company was founded in Houston as an online platform for commercial real estate listings from initial search to lease execution. Customers can search listings by size, location, and property type, and the company has in-house brokers who can help finalize any transactions.
Given its start in Texas, SquareFoot’s clients were traditional businesses like law firms, accountants, and oil and gas firms. In New York, Lee says the startup is primarily helping companies seeking to be part of the city’s growing tech scene and looking for Silicon Valley-like space.
“In Texas, while it was competitive before the oil prices started dropping, it’s much more of a laid-back experience,” Lee says. “In New York, it’s more cutthroat. That’s definitely how it feels.”