It’s probably the rebel in me, but I like challenges that involve helping very large and entrenched industry players adapt to new technologies. Twenty years ago (Where does the time go?) I helped start Motive Communications to convince carriers there was almost unlimited revenue potential beyond their core voice business.
Well, it’s 2020 and the current disruption project for me and my team is commercial real estate. This industry faces changes ushered in by technology and shifting customer attitudes about where and how they spend their workday.
Like the digital/broadband revolution that carriers faced 20 years ago, today’s real estate owners and operators are scrambling to react to their customers’ demands for flexibility in how they lease, occupy, and use office space, which is just a result of the shift to a digital, on-demand economy. Why should companies have to contract for office space for 10 years, when they can buy datacenter capacity by the day?
When we started Swivel, we spent that precious seed capital carefully and took our time testing things, because disrupting is, well, hard. Now that we’re pretty sure we’ve got it right for all of the stakeholders–landlords, owners as well as brokers–it’s time to take Swivel outside of our proving ground in Texas (Silicon Valley is not the best place for PropTech startups, that’s ATX and NYC) and go nationwide.
Today, I’m excited to announce the closing of our Series A funding along with the addition of Breyer Capital and JLLSpark to our list of venture capital (VC) backers. I would put our syndicate of investors up against any in the PropTech sector–a list that includes VCs like Mike Maples from Floodgate, Josh Kopelman from First Round, Tom Ball from Next Coast Ventures and Leah Busque from Fuel just to name a few.
A little backstory for you, Jim and I worked together when he was a managing director at Accel and led an early investment in Motive Communications. Jim saw the potential in Motive early on before we had many customers when plenty of VCs were still unconvinced of our ability to penetrate the often insular broadband carrier industry. Folks like Jim Breyer bought into that vision and we were able to be one of the upstart companies that help make it happen. [My monthly AT&T bill is proof!]
We won’t use our new round of capital to buy Superbowl commercials or flood the internet with ads. We’ll use it to hire landlord evangelists in seven new cities this year, to recruit and equip our network of tenant broker partners in those cities, and to extend our proprietary intelligent leasing technology.
While I’m thrilled about the investment capital from Jim Breyer and JLLSpark, the most precious commodities from these VCs for any startup are their wisdom, brains, and guts.