Earlier today, my name was included in the press release announcing the seed funding raised by HqO which totaled $6.6m. This isn’t my first tech investment, but it is likely the first time my name was actually included in the press release.
I have received more than a few emails and texts asking me why I chose to invest. There are five main reasons:
1. I believe in the team. That’s my first criteria for any tech or start-up investment. Chase Garbarino, the co-founder and CEO, impressed me immediately, even though he’s Red Sox fan. He has the right mix of confidence and humility, knowing he can lead the company to great heights, but also knowing he needs helps to get there.
2. There’s a need for the product. HqO is a tenant experience platform and software solution. It allows landlords to provide their tenants with a better experience and raise the engagement within the building. It does so by providing access to amenities both within the building and within the local area, as well as alerts, and interactivity with the building staff and ownership. Landlords are facing more competition than ever, not only from other landlords, but now from co-working and flexible office solutions. WeWork is the largest tenant in New York City and they built their business by providing a better experience than most landlords. HqO will help landlords provide today’s tenants with the tools they want and need to attract and retain talent.
3. I believe it’s “what’s next”. If you look at the buildings in New Jersey that are outperforming the market based on occupancy and rents, they are all providing more than “check the box” amenities. They are creating a sense of place. A software solution that allows employees to better utilize the amenities that are available to them and have greater engagement with the surrounding environment and businesses, is a tool that, if marketed correctly, will be quickly adopted. The millennial and Gen-Z workers will not only engage but will push the platform to be better and grow quickly.
4. The forward-thinking landlords will realize there’s another benefit. Isn’t everything now about data? Being able to collect data on the habits of your tenants, anonymously, is a powerful tool. How many people are using each amenity? Are they frequent customers of certain local retailers? Savvy landlords will use the data as a selling tool when marketing vacant space or partnering with service providers who provide their amenities.
5. I follow the smart guys. Knowing that the round was being led by JLL Spark and Navitas was a big deal. While they are a competitor, JLL is a force in the industry and if they get behind the product, it could spur growth…quickly.
While I no longer represent landlords or tenants in the leasing of office space, it drives my current business as well. I am keenly aware of the trends in the market and how to create and enhance value. Employee attraction and retention, tenant experience, and sense of place are all buzzwords that are relatively new but dominating the conversation.
HqO is uniquely poised to play a huge role in our industry and I am happy to be along for the ride.