Visualizing a potential office space — and how it might work for all of your employees — can be a tall order, especially with the added pressures of build outs and contracts. Your company may have specific requirements to be able to grow — from required security measures to finding space for guests or all-hands meetings.
Husband-and-wife Lekan Bashua and Ebunola Akinbiyi initially worked in the commercial office furniture industry and together provided interior design services to medium-sized businesses. They saw office managers often struggle with visualizing projects once they leased a new space.
In the first iteration of their startup, they saw themselves as the ‘wedding planners for office spaces.’ “During that time, we started doing a lot of custom design work with our clients and turns out, there are only so many ways you can design a conference room,” says Bashua. “We found ourselves doing essentially the same work repeatedly.”
The partners quickly saw that that model wasn’t a scalable business. They decided to switch their tactics, pivot the model, and join Comcast’s The Farm accelerator.
The result is workplace design platform FlexSpace, a product that helps companies visualize, budget and realize their build out within constraints of timeline, budget and culture. They tell Hypepotamus that the target market is worth $5 billion, with their focus on creative agencies and small-to-medium businesses leasing less than 10,000 square feet.
“Over time we found it was better to design a whole bunch of spaces in advance, and then when clients needed them, we would match them to existing templates already designed,” says CEO Bashua.
Bashua shares that they wanted to make sure that they offered the product at an accessible price point and provide visibility into the final cost as early in the process as possible.
FlexSpace works with brokers and landlords to upload potential floor plans with build out options that cater to the size and industry the company is in. “We’ll make a generic layout so when the broker is showing them two or three spaces, this is a space that looks relevant to their company. And then they have initial pricing that helps them coordinate their budget — $40,000 versus 100,000, for example,” says Bashua.
Once the customer closes on a lease, they can visit the FlexSpace site to answer a short questionnaire surrounding logistics and design expectations. Within 48 hours, the platform emails the customer a proposed floor plan based off that information.
There are three components to FlexSpace’s virtual staging: the client uploads and transforms 2D floor plans into 3D, or can select one from the properties on the database. They then layer in predesigned templates to price out everything, including labor costs.
Then, the user can start the build out immediately by searching vendors within the platform. They can even compare what other companies of a similar size are doing with their floor plans.
“Following a couple of phone calls, they have a fully annotated floor plan that tells them everything about the space — here’s the design, here’s the type of furniture being proposed, here’s where every projector would be located, power outlets, you name it. This tells all the vendors what to do.”
The team is largely focused on the Atlanta market, but has also completed more than 25 projects across San Francisco, New York, Atlanta and Miami with more in the pipeline. They’ve been acquiring leads through online broker communities and individual broker relationships.
“The real value of what we’ve done is really for the tenant. It saves them time. But for the broker, if the tenant doesn’t understand the space they’re about to sign a lease on and they don’t know all of their costs — the deal gets delayed. This helps brokers close deals faster, especially for smaller spaces,” says Bashua.
Brokers and landlords can pay a monthly subscription that gives them up to five space conversions with data and full-color layouts. “If you’re going to take a client to see five spaces for under $70, you can visualize full-sized spaces in our tool.”
Since completing the accelerator program, the team has seamlessly transitioned into fundraising. They’re looking to raise a $500,000 seed round to onboard new team members, including a sales team, to land more clients.