The FORT Podcast: Bennett Washabaugh & Mike Zei
In this episode of The FORT Podcast, Chris is sitting down with Bennett Washabaugh (CEO / Co-Founder) and Mike Zei (COO / Co-Founder) of TenantBase. TenantBase’s team has come together from the commercial real estate and technology industries for a single purpose—helping clients find a home for their startup or small business. Their free online service allows business owners to be paired with local brokers to find the best deal for office needs. Chris, Bennett, and Mike discuss the journey of their hypergrowth company, trying to solve every problem at once, raising capital, and determining roles to find the best path to success.
01:57 — What are your roles? How did TenantBase come to be?
03:13 — What was the moment that you decided to attack this opportunity?
06:46 — How different is building software versus building a traditional business?
08:29 — How are your products shipped before the masses see them?
09:13 — What were the core issues when you were getting started?
11:16 — Was there a moment when you decided to focus on solving a few things and not everything?
13:16 — If I was a tenant entering the market, what are some things I would experience had I not worked with TenantBase?
16:00 — Is there a fundamental reason why someone would decide not to sign a lease?
17:42 — For office tenants, does access to amenities play a major factor in their decision to lease?
18:44 — Has anything that has happened with WeWork in the past few months affected your business?
20:52 — How do you get started in a new city? How do you identify new markets?
24:28 — How do you keep a consistent culture as you open up this quickly in different cities?
25:48 — Raising Capital Early On
28:50 — What’s it like having a board?
31:43 — How critical was going through an incubator in this journey?
35:04 — Is there someone along the way you read or listened to that helped you become great leaders?
37:13 — What is your ten-year prediction for this space?
38:59 — What are tenants asking for today that has changed recently?
42:18 — Are tenants needing space so quickly because of their failure to forecast growth, or is it because of a problem in the industry?
43:27 — How did you transition from doing the same thing to finding different things for each of you to focus on?
47:08 — What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?