Culture – Create the right environment for success

David Mondell – Culture – How to create the right environment for success.

I think one of the things that’s interesting about PivotDesk, that not a lot of people realize, as opposed to how people traditionally think about real estate, we’re pretty conditioned to think about real estate in a certain way… “I need this much square footage”, “I need this location”, “I need exposed brick”, “I need this and that“… and all those things are great if you’re really signing a long-term lease and you’re deciding this is where my company’s going to be but, for most start-ups, that stuff’s irrelevant.

What you really need is a good culture; you need a good environment with another company where the culture matches so you can feel good every day, you get a lot of innovation going back and forth, collaboration, energy in the office, and a great place to work, just until you know whether or not you have a real business. And we really focus on that, from a PivotDesk perspective, so we’re really more of a matching-service than we are a real estate listing site.

We talk to every customer, we understand what their culture is, what works for you… do you enjoy long walks on the beach? do you like candlelit dinners? These things matter when you’re a small company and trying to build a culture and we do all we can to match those companies with companies that have an environment in which that culture can thrive.

And then we build all the tools that both sides need. It’s a flexible arrangement so it renews every month, on a monthly basis. It’s all priced per person per month so no one’s signing a long-term agreement. And it’s focussed more on a relationship than it is on a legal document, that’s binding on both sides, that neither side is happy with. So, when it works, the relationship works for as long as both sides need it to work. If the host company, all of a sudden, needs the space back, they’re not locked into some long-term sublease and they can’t have their own space back.

If the guest company is growing really fast and they needed new space, where they’re trying to figure out they need to relocate, they have the ability to do that; they’re not locked into some crazy document that’s a huge liability on their balance sheet and the runway.

So, what we’re really trying to do is provide an environment for companies that are really dynamic growth companies… don’t know how big they’re going to be 5 to 10 years from now… which is really what you have to sign from a lease perspective; a way to mitigate the risk on that space and build relationships that help both sides. And, as long as those relationships work, the system works and as soon as someone needs to change, we help both sides do whatever they need to do.

So, it’s really a beneficial process and it’s very different than how people really think about real estate… and that’s one of the biggest challenges we have… even founders have, because they’re so conditioned to think about real estate in a certain way that it takes a conversation or two for them to realize, “You know, you’re right. I don’t really need that big office right now,” or exposed brick, or that location… “What I need is just a good place to work for now, that’s not going to kill my burn rate and it’s not going to put a huge, personal liability risk.”

As a founder you sometimes have to sign personal guarantees on these leases. That’s not what you want to do; you just want to build your business and you want to do it in a good environment; and PivotDesk really facilitates that environment and matches people up on both sides, so both sides have a good, beneficial relationship that helps both sides grow.