Proptech Startup TROT Aims to Be Flex-Space Alternative
Landlords can list their vacancies directly on TROT’s marketplace
Office landlords who don’t want to deal with mega-flex-space companies like WeWork and Regus now have an alternative in TROT, an online marketplace where owners can list their flex-space vacancies directly.
The Manhattan-based proptech startup allows owners to upload their vacant space to TROT’s online platform, post their own prices and information, and change their listings for free, while continuing to manage the space themselves, said David Menaged, TROT’s founder and CEO.
“We’re aggregating all the space from owners from all asset classes,” Menaged said. “So trotters — that’s what we call the people that are renting the space — can now see all the options. Before that, even if they knew a Tishman Speyer or Vornado, there was no central place for them to go see everybody’s flex offerings direct from landlords.”
TROT as of late July had spaces in 16 locations in New York City and the surrounding areas, according to the company, which plans to expand geographically within the next six to 12 months. Among the listings on the two-year-old startup’s platform are a 14,000-square-foot building on 39th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, and one building in the GFP Real Estate portfolio, Menaged said.
A former commercial real estate broker and the founder of the Manhattan-based Intrepid Real Estate Group, Menaged said he has been “a big fan of the flex space industry” for most of his 30-year career, which started as an 18-year-old intern with James Buslik & Associates, now Adams & Company Real Estate.
“I always felt that what was being delivered to the world as a [flex-space] solution was more by default rather than by design, and I always felt that coworking was great,” Menaged said.
However, he believed that owners and prospective flex-space tenants needed a more efficient way to market non-coworking vacancies that were too short-term to be profitable enough for brokers’ attention.
“So, looking at a lot of industries that have reinvented themselves with a new sense of vigor, whether it be the travel agency industry, or hailing a ride, or booking a vacation home, I took a page out of those books and started thinking to myself, ‘Why couldn’t that be for commercial office space?’ That was the birth of the idea, which came when there was a lot of time for commercial brokers to think about what to do in the darkest days of the pandemic.”
The result was TROT, which unlike traditional coworking portals that often offer an option via their managed portfolio, acts as an independent marketplace. It can bring together building owners looking to maximize their commercial real estate and all types of businesses looking for flexible space.
Owners can sign up for free, listing as many or as few spaces as they like and have complete pricing control. Tenants also use the app for free, with landlords paying TROT 10 percent of the leasing price on deals, said Menaged.
“Landlords make a market,” Menaged concluded. “You certainly need renters, but if a landlord is providing a solution to a market, there will be renters that are going to rent in that way. We hope that this is the solution to short-term flex-space for landlords.”
Philip Russo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.