Office Services Startup Managed by Q Brings on Related’s Jay Cross
Fresh off of raising $30 million in a funding round led by office supplies giant Staples, the startup Managed by Q is planning an ambitious expansion into real estate. The company, which offers office management services to corporate clients, has recruited Related Hudson Yards President L. Jay Cross to join its board of directors with the goal of marketing its services to a greater scope of real estate clients.
Managed by Q specializes in providing an array of workplace services—from cleaning and maintenance, to supplies and catering, to IT and administrative support—for companies seeking to outsource such tasks to external vendors. Founded in 2014, Managed by Q has steadily grown and now serves roughly 1,200 clients predominantly in the New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago markets, who can access the firm’s consolidated offerings via an online platform and app.
While Q, as the startup likes to call itself, serves a diverse clientele of businesses ranging in size and across various industries, it has yet to establish itself as an alternative for property owners and building managers in the real estate space. (The company declined to specify its current number of real estate clients.)
But with Cross having recently joined the board in an individual capacity, Managed by Q hopes the Related Companies executive can bring his knowledge and nous to help the firm break into a new, untapped market.
“We have a big vision to become the operating system for the built world, and Jay is the perfect partner for our next chapter,” Dan Teran, Managed by Q co-founder and chief executive officer, told Commercial Observer—noting Cross’ “unique perspective on the existing real estate technology landscape.” The company hopes to “explore opportunities to bring Q’s technology to larger-scale tenants, property managers and owners,” Teran added.
While the company’s platform links clients to independent service providers (think caterers and exterminators), it also employs roughly 650 “field operators” who handle services like cleaning and maintenance internally. This model earned Managed by Q the moniker “Uber for janitors” in a 2015 Bloomberg article—except that the “field operators” are not contractors, but full-time employees of the startup, complete with all the usual benefits and perks.
In the wake of the Series C funding round, Managed by Q has now successfully raised roughly $72.5 million in total funding in the past three years—including via notable investors such as starchitect Bjarke Ingels, actress Jessica Alba and David Stern, the former NBA commissioner. The firm has now set its sights on expansion and is on the hunt for larger clients, targeting offices with more than 250 employees.
But while Q’s product would appear tailor-made to the needs of building operators who have a whole cadre of tasks and services to consider in running their properties efficiently, thus far the firm has yet to fully exploit that space. Cross said he hopes to help the company reach its potential in this regard, describing Managed by Q as “a compelling platform that has the potential to help shape the workplace of the future.”
“I have always been fascinated by the intersection of technology and real estate, and am pleased to join the board of a young company that is having an impact in this space,” he told Commercial Observer in a statement.
Managed by Q is counting on Cross’ experience and contacts across the real estate industry to help expose its services to such customers. (Q said there are no current plans to bring on Related or Hudson Yards as a client. Related did not return a request for comment on the matter.) The firm’s foray into property management would include using its technology to help operators monitor building temperature and manage waste disposal—impressive ambitions at a time when the once-frothy real estate technology sector has suffered from waning enthusiasm, with fewer startups being formed and access to venture capital harder to come by.
“When you add someone [like Cross] to your board, you’re signaling to the marketplace, ‘We’re growing in a specific direction,’ ” said Ashkan Zandieh, the founder of real estate technology advocacy organization RE:Tech. “It could be a signal to the market that you’re about to supercharge your service for enterprise clients like Related.”
Zandieh compared Q to the freelance labor marketplace TaskRabbit—except “for professional office managers and tenants”—and said the “true test of their success is if they can solve the billion-dollar building management space.”
That facilities management space is largely occupied by major service-based brokerage companies—think CBRE, JLL and Cushman & Wakefield—as well as major property management firms. But given Managed by Q’s business model and technological edge, there is optimism that the startup will be able to carve out a niche.
“Long term, I think Managed by Q could be a huge disruptor in the commercial real estate property management sector,” Zandieh said. “They’re the perfect platform for those services.