Baltimore based Kinglet held their Cincinnati launch party at BLDG in Covington Friday night. Kinglet is kind of the
UBER Airbnb of real estate (my words not theirs). I'm not an expert on commercial real estate so I never thought about how it works. Apparently, if someone wants to rent office space they are handed a lease agreement that might as well be written in Greek. Of course the tech firms are staffed by tech guys who know nothing of practical matters like real estate. So they have a lawyer buddy look it over. What ensues devolves into a Machiavellian exchange that ends with lawyers owning all the assets of said company the nett worth of which can now only be calculated with a mathematical expression prefixed by the - symbol.
What if the techies could just go to a webpage and find other startups or any other business with excess space and rent a table for a month? Or six?
That is what Kinglet aims to do, smooth that painful experience.
Kinglet says, "As commercial real estate professionals, starting our first company was an eye-opening experience when it came time to find our first space. We witnessed firsthand all of the pain points encountered in the typical commercial leasing process. Unsatisfied with inefficiencies, high transactional costs, and limited options, we began building a better system. Kinglet was conceived to enable small to midsize business to efficiently find the perfect space."
I had the opportunity to chat with Jeff Jacobson and Alex Kopicki for a few minutes Friday night. Jacobsen said they could have expanded anywher; Chicago and San Francisco were options. But something about Cincinnati drew them here instead. The startup scene of course is flourishing. And the number of small shops, one or two person design firms supporting P&G and other large companies in town were too enticing to ignore.
Commercial real estate agents themselves, Jacobson and Kopicki found no one wanted to bother with small deals when the cost was as much time and work as large deals. They realized there was a niche to be served. Someone might find an antiseptic space in a strip mall somewhere in Fairfield. But what is that compared to a spot in the Roadtrippers new offices in OTR. Or the Powerhouse in Newport?
I asked Jacobson what was the one surprise he had since Kinglet launched in Baltimore. Turns out it wasn't the small guys looking for space. Jacobson told me larger firms looking for swap space have been using the service. For instance, there was a 100-person firm needing short term space while remodeling. It's impossible; no leasing agent will write a deal less than a year. Turns out Kinglet fills that need. Both sides sign a pre-made six page form and it is a done deal.
Now I'm not in real estate but the Cincinnati startup scene seems like a good fit for these guys.