Commercial real estate platform Truss is trying to level the playing field for small businesses looking for office space.
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The company has now listed 100 million square feet of office space on its website for small businesses to lease in five major markets: Chicago, Washington DC, Dallas, Houston and Austin. And it plans on adding another city to that list later this year.
For small businesses, Truss stands out from other real estate platforms and brokers because of its focus on spaces under 10,000 square feet. These spaces make up over 85 percent of commercial leases, according to Truss. But the smallest leases don’t get a lot of attention from the broker community because they don’t generate huge commissions.
Tom Smith, co-founder of Truss, said in an email to Small Business Trends, “Brokers have commission-based jobs so they make more money on larger spaces. Put another way, brokers feel that helping SMBs find spaces under 10,000 square feet is a waste of time and effort, and the segment is therefore left underserved.”
In addition to small space listings, the company is also aiming to make the process of finding space more accessible for entrepreneurs who don’t have real estate teams behind them. The company is achieving that goal in part thanks to a chatbot named Vera who communicates using real world language rather than industry jargon. This is supposed to help businesses better determine the actual monthly costs of a lease rather than leaving them to try and figure it out based on a price per square foot or triple net estimate.
Smith says, “Vera’s main role is to gather and analyze tenant requirements and preferences to create a list of properties that match the user’s needs. Business owners are then able to virtually tour available spaces without leaving their desk. These 3D tours coupled with the platform’s total price transparency cuts down the number of property tours by 50 percent, ultimately speeding up the process for everyone involved.”
According to Smith, the platform can benefit any business looking for space under 10,000 square feet in the available markets. But currently, tech firms, marketing firms, startups and satellite offices of larger corporations make up most of the company’s customer base.
You can sign up for an account on the company’s website for free. Truss does get paid a commission by the landlord when they place a tenant in a space. But Smith says they share part of that rebate with the tenant so small businesses end up with more money in their pockets.