Brokers and owners know there is a lot of rules and regulations that need to pass, in order to finalize any sale. Being perpetually on the run does not make this process any easier. Hightower takes the highroad on managing these issues and provides the first ever platform for CRE’s to corroborate with their teams and organize all of the various documents you may need.
Today we chat with Brandon Weber, CEO and cofounder, about the company, its future, and the future of leasing management.
Tell us about the product or service.
Hightower was the commercial real estate industry’s first end to end leasing management platform. It replaces spreadsheets and other labor intensive reporting systems with a beautiful and intuitive command center for leasing. With Hightower, commercial landlords and their leasing teams can manage all documents and deal flow, better collaborate with each other, and gain visibility into the performance of their portfolios, all in real-time on any device you own. Hightower allows brokers, owners and asset managers to operate more effectively and efficiently, through a platform where all of their client information is visible to them in one place rather than through antiquated spreadsheets.
How is it different?
Commercial leasing is the business of filling spaces with tenants. It’s the most valuable workflow in CRE, how buildings make money, and why they get built in the first place.
Before Hightower, commercial leasing was completely unsupported by tools and technology, from marketing to deal analytics, and portfolio management. Excel had been the system of record for this industry.
Hightower has changed all that, resulting in a new category of software called Leasing Management. Hightower is the most powerful and intuitive platform of it’s kind, and is the only true end to end leasing management platform for CRE-tech professionals.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Commercial Real Estate is a $12 trillion asset class in the U.S. alone. Globally it’s about 5x that size. At the same time it’s an industry that’s largely been ignored by technology for the past 20 years. The opportunity to fundamentally change this industry is massive and upon us.
What is the business model?
Hightower is a subscription-based platform, pricing scales up or down based on portfolio size for owners and the number of brokers using the platform for brokerage firms. Owners can add unlimited users to Hightower at no additional cost, and because we run via the cloud there is no software installation overhead and no upfront costs. We can onboard an entire national landlord company in two to three weeks, and have an incredibly well-trained and responsive staff to answer any troubleshooting questions that new users may experience as they start off with the platform.
What inspired the business?
Prior to founding Hightower I was a commercial broker at CBRE for six years where I experienced first-hand, the pain of running a collaborative and complex business without any purpose build platform. As a trained software engineer I knew that there was a better way to conduct business more efficiently. Before CBRE I spent four and a half years at Microsoft building Excel. I left Microsoft to go to Zillow when it was only 65 people to work on some of the early real estate tech innovations on the residential side. At Zillow I got bit by the real estate bug and left to join CBRE as a broker myself. I had seven years’ experience with the problems the systems we were using were causing me, and I know there was an opportunity to make a big change here.
After talking with a number of colleagues, I decided to take a leap of faith and found Hightower with two of the smartest people I knew to tackle what we believe to be a massive problem.
Do you feel that everyone need to know how to code?
Mark Andressen was right when he said that software is eating the world, the result is that all industries will become increasingly powered by software. As a result I think it’s important for young people to think about their careers with this in mind. While it doesn’t mean that everyone needs to learn how to code, it does mean that you’ll be well served to have a solid foundation/curiosity in how our underlying technologies and systems work and an interest in how to use technology tools to get jobs done more efficiently.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Within the next six months we’ll be opening offices in two to three more U.S. markets and plan to expand internationally. We’ve got three large product initiatives that we’re cranking on which I’m very excited about and will able to talk more about in the next month or two.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Seek help early and often. Being a start-up founder is to be in a constant state of doing something you’ve never done before. It’s ok to not know… but go find people who do and pick their brains. It’ll unblock you much more quickly than grinding on the problem in solitude.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Michael Bloomberg – In addition to greatly admiring him, I think there’s a lot of work we can do together as Hightower works to redefine the technology powering a $12 trillion industry. Similar to what he did 30 years ago for the Finance industry.
Why did you launch in New York?
We actually didn’t launch in New York. We founded Hightower when we were still located in Seattle and made the decision to move our business to New York to be at the nexus of the global CRE power center and better serve the commercial real estate industry.. New York City is the undisputed hub for real estate, and we wanted to be in the middle of it in order to do our business better.
Where is your favorite outdoor bar in the city for a drink when it is warm out?
I can’t remember not having a good time at the Standard beer garden.