Phil Kanfer | Founder & CEO | Market Lane Advisors | Helping CRE choose the right PropTech

Transcript

DA: Welcome to TEN, the Tenant Experience Network. I’m your host, David Abrams. In this episode, we are connecting with Phil Kanfer, founder and CEO of Market Lane Advisors. In this episode, we learned that Phil’s career journey had finance and entrepreneurial beginnings, which led him to real estate with Newmark as a tenant rep broker in Lower Manhattan. Phil eventually met the CEO of a newly emerging company, now called Wired Score, and was brought in to help bring the business to market. This company saw an opportunity to create a measure and certification of how well a building is connected through technology. In the early days, Phil’s back was against the wall. He believed that this new opportunity had to work, which for him meant doing his best work, as there was nowhere else to go. Phil ran sales and revenue for over nine years, and helped grow the business to 150 plus people, and operating in 25 different countries. Fast forward and acknowledging that historically there has not been any one person overseeing innovation and technology in CRE. Phil saw an opportunity to support the industry by providing fractional, or an outsourced innovation lead, to help select and implement the right technology solutions. And so Market Lane was born, providing an unbiased expertise to choose the right technology for each and every building based on its own set of unique characteristics. Phil has seen firsthand how building owners look to the hospitality industry for inspiration on the future of office buildings. Our conversation naturally led to a discussion around around customer experience and the need for more collaboration between building owners, operators, and their tenants. Recognizing that we are still in the early innings of this game, I look forward to our continued connection as we both explore the intersection of technology and commercial real estate. We’re excited to share this podcast with you, so be sure to subscribe to TEN, so you never miss an episode of the Tenant Experience Network. And now I’d like to welcome Phil to the show. I’m really glad you could be with us. How are you doing today?

PK: I’m doing great, I’m doing great. Thanks for having me.

DA: Good. Glad we were able to find time to connect, and from Toronto to New York, keep those airwaves going here. So let’s kick it off with a conversation around how you started in this position role. What was your journey? I always enjoy this question as the roads to where we land today are always so varied, huh? I’m looking forward to hearing about your journey. 

PK: Yeah, certainly a journey. So I think my career, you could kind of break it into two halves. I spent the first part of my career in finance and entrepreneurship. So,, help start a company After I graduated college, 20 years ago, and yep, I gave it out there, I know many people don’t. And went into finance, was working in finance for a while. Left that world when the crises happened and the aftermath of that. Kind of reinvented myself. Got into real estate, went over to Newmark where I was a tenant rep broker.

DA: Right.

PK: Working there in lower Manhattan, spending most of my time in lower Manhattan. And from there, I met someone who was starting a business, which was called Wired NYC at the time, which is now known as Wired Score. But I was approached because there was a problem that this company was, was looking to solve. And that was a lack of clarity and information on how well connected an office building is. So I got approached by, by our CEO and said, “Hey, listen, I don’t have a background in real estate. “I know you’ve been working in real estate “for a little while. “I have this idea that I’d like to bring to market “and I love your help, bring that to market, “helping to launch our business “and communicating to brokers and to landlords “on what they should be doing to distinguish “their buildings from a technology standpoint “in order to attract and retain tenants.” So this was end of 2013, and what was happening during that time was we were seeing a migration of tech tenants coming from Seattle, San Francisco area. They were coming to New York City, they’re coming to the East coast and they’re all asking questions about, how well connected or how tech friendly the office stock was.

DA: Right.

PK: And there was no main mechanism to share with them how well connected the office stock was. You have LEED or you have Energy Star for green buildings, but you had nothing for technology. So at my time at Newmark, I was touring tenants through New York City and I was constantly getting the question regarding technology and buildings and telecommunications. How well can I connect, and high speed fiber options and things like that. So I said to our CEO I said, “Listen, “I’m seeing the problem on a daily basis “as I’m touring tenants throughout the city. “I think we have something here.” So I left Newmark at the time. I had six month old twins. 

DA: Wow.

PK: So it was kind of… This had to work because the back was against the wall and young kids at home. And I think actually when your back’s against the wall is when we do our best work, ’cause there’s nowhere else to go. So I partnered with our CEO to help bring this concept to market. So I ran sales and revenue for Wired Score. It was the two of us for a year and a half before we hired anyone else onto our team. And to make a long story short, we grew the business. It’s 150 plus person company right now. Offices in about six countries selling in over 25 countries. Wired Score raised its Series B in the summer of 2022. So my job was to develop relationships with the real estate community, both owners and brokers across the US and Canada. So I launched Wired Score into every major city in the US and Canada before we took it over to London and to Europe, running sales, running revenue, and really fostering the relationship with the community to make sure that they had a proper mechanism of communicating to the outside world as to how well connected their office stock was. So that was my journey in terms of kind of the entrepreneur and finance world that I was in. And then kind of recreating myself getting into real estate. Was at Wired Score for nine years.

DA: Okay.

PK: And then decided to take on Market Lane towards the end of last summer.

DA: Phil, an awesome journey to Wired Score. But I’d love to hear more about your next phase in your entrepreneurial journey, and why and how you started Market Lane.

PK: Yeah, of course. So, you know, I’ve noticed over the past few years doing what I’ve been doing at Wired Score that there really isn’t a key person or one individual within an organization that truly owns innovation. At Wired Score, what I would do, or what my colleagues would do is we would call on a real estate organization and we’d generally find who we thought would be the decision makers for us. It could be an asset manager, it could be a head of leasing, someone in the C-suite. Generally the person that wears the asset management hat has a more holistic view of the property, of the portfolio. And they’re able to make decisions because they, they’re able make decisions quickly because they have a bigger picture view. It’s not just operations, but it’s leasing, it’s brand. It’s how the building’s being positioned. So what’s happened in the industry is a lot of PropTech companies start calling on asset management. And, and what happens finally, someone in asset management picks up the phone. They start to take the call, they start to listen in on the demo while all their other colleagues are putting that email in spam, or not listening to or taking that demo. And because this individual has started to take these calls, they’ve automatically been designated as the PropTech or the innovation person. Now, by the way, this person hasn’t spent much time on the innovation side. They haven’t done tons of diligence on there. They haven’t been trained in PropTech. They’ve just been the nice individual-

DA: And curious, right?

PK: Yes. Well, that’s a big one, right? And curious, they’re, they’re interested.

DA: Yeah.

PK: But interest doesn’t bring expertise.

DA: No.

PK: Right? So they’re interested and they’re curious, which is great for the industry as a whole, and I love to see that. But what I found is that no one fully owns innovation.

DA: Right.

PK: Now, over the past 10 years, you’ve noticed that a new title has popped up in real estate. And that title is called, Head of Innovation. It didn’t exist 10 years ago, it didn’t exist, in the beginning of PropTech. So if you’re a Brookfield or if you’re a Blackstone, you might have a Head of Innovation on staff. Why you’re a big company, you could absorb it, right? A lot of different departments that could use innovation in different ways. 98% of the real estate companies out there in the world don’t have a head of innovation. Now why is that? I think it’s two main reasons. One, real estate organizations understand what they do really well, right? We property manage well, we’re able to lease space, we asset manage, right? We know how to look at valuations. They’re real estate people through and through. They realize we’re not technology people. And on the other side is cost. That Head of Innovation hire, it’s a really senior, expensive hire. And we all know that when times are good in real estate, real estate companies operate really lean. And when times are a little trickier in real estate, no one’s taking on an expensive super senior hire.

DA: Right.

PK: But they’re all looking for the muscle that that Head of Innovation person brings to the table. So I noticed that throughout my time at my last venture. And I said, listen, I think there’s an opportunity to fill that void. So what Market Lane is, is Market Lane is essentially an outsourced Head of Innovation.

DA: Okay.

PK: And what I do is I come and I help real estate owners understand, evaluate, decide, and then ultimately onboard the best PropTech decisions for their business.

DA: I think that’s a great role. I think it’s a critical role. And I think what you provide is that buffer, right, between what’s best for the organization without bias and being able to understand the ecosystem of startups, and be able to sort of differentiate and help make recommendations, because it’s not a one size fits all.

PK: So you said something that actually struck a chord with me, and you said “not bias”. And I think this is the competitive differentiator.

DA: Right.

PK: For Market Lane, right? Market Lane works only for the owner. And you could think of it kind of like the owner’s rep, right? With no competing interests at all. And I think that that’s really important to state, because you have a large VC community that’s now gotten involved in PropTech, and they’re trying to give advice to real estate owners, or they’re giving advice to real estate owners. But what are they doing ultimately? They’re pitching their investments.

DA: Right.

PK: And real estate organizations know this, and they understand this. But the VCs are trying to round out their offering even more by being able to provide advice and guidance on PropTech companies that they should be taking a look at. But the real estate company understands that if they need an EV charging station, and they’re talking to a VC company, they’re only going to get the EV charging station that the company-

DA: Invested in.

PK: Invested, right?

DA: Of course.

PK: And that might not be in the best interest for the owner.

DA: Right.

PK: So, there’s no competing interest at all with Market Lane. I work only for the owner, with their best interest in mind. So that was a good point that you made that I wanted to make sure that we underlined, because if you’re an owner, you need to make sure that my best interests are in mind, and that whoever is working for me is only thinking about me and what’s best for my building, what’s best for my tenants.

DA: Right.

DA: So just one quick question and then we’ll move on. But related, in terms of this journey, to go out again on your own and take this entrepreneurial journey even one step further. Can I just, because as an entrepreneur, I’m always interested, what was that motivation? What sort of said to you, “You know what? “I’ve been involved in building this company “from the ground up.” You gave us the size and scope. It sounds pretty exciting, why take the plunge again?

PK: You know, I’m a builder and I like building things, and my last venture, it was amazing to see an idea go from just an idea on a page to a built-out vision, where we have 150 employees working there. We have the market utilizing this as a standard, and now a global standard, which is really exciting.

DA: Yeah.

PK: And I wanted to build again.

DA: Okay.

PK: And look, it’s what, when you find a void in a market, in a market that you’ve been working in, and you have an idea to fill that void, that’s usually a recipe for a good idea. So, I think look like a lot of us should get up in the morning and just go to work, and put on that smile or stay home if we’re hybrid, right?

DA: Yeah.

PK: Which I’m sure we’ll get to talk about. A lot of us could do that, and there’s no shame in that, and that’s amazing. And you know, there’s also some of us that want to build and want to create, and want to solve problems.

DA: Right.

PK: And I really enjoy that. So I saw the void. I saw something that I could tackle with my expertise on the brokerage side, working at a big brokerage firm like Newmark, being able to build a PropTech company from start and do it for the past decade. And then lend my expertise of what I’ve seen in the industry, the trials and tribulations, how to vet out a PropTech company, how to look at one smartly, how to properly due diligence on it and bring my expertise to the ownership community.

DA: Yep. Yeah, it makes a ton of sense. And I think more so than just a void, I think you identified a pain point in the industry right now. So speaking of pain, I think we can all agree that commercial real estate has just gone through one of the most turbulent periods of time that we can ever remember. And commercial real estate continues to be the largest asset class in the world. And it’s definitely rebounding from this prolonged period historically low levels of occupancy. But it’s still faced with really coming to terms with what this industry looks like in the future. How does it continue to meet the needs of this, of a new consumer which needs the things to be very different than they were before. And we believe, as I’m sure you do, that technology’s going to play a major role in that. We’re also seeing this notion of a workplace and workspace. Workplace is now a much larger ecosystem, and the physical workspace is just one part of that, right? We’re going to continue to work from everywhere. I don’t think we’re going to stay remote. I don’t think we’re going to come back a hundred percent. Even those that are mandating, they’re not necessarily mandating a hundred percent. But buildings still play an incredible opportunity, or have an incredible opportunity to play a critical role in helping to build great companies. So you’ve got an amazing vantage point, having just begun now this journey, talking with real estate partners, talking with the PropTech community. What are you seeing right now as sort of some of the dominant themes emerging in terms of how technology can respond to the industry, and help it through this time?

PK: Yeah, so it’s a good question. I think the question centers around getting people back to the office, right? And how that happens? And technology is certainly a part of it, but technology doesn’t solely bring employees back to the office, right? Like what brings employees back to the office, right? I want to make sure that the building’s exciting, it’s located in a good area. There’s things for me to do that I can’t do at home. There’s people I want to see, there’s collaboration that I want to happen, things like that. So I think technology plays a part in it, but I think we need to think about how owners are positioning their assets. And I started noticing this even before the pandemic, but it’s accelerated even more since it, and that’s the merging of the office sector, and the hospitality sector.

DA: Right.

PK: And that’s, I think the key point here. Many of the class A owners that you and I know are morphing their assets into hospitality, clones.

DA: Yep.

PK: I was with a, about two weeks ago, I was with a prominent Class A owner, and I recently mentioned to him, I said, “You know, I’ve been in a couple of your buildings recently “and I’ve noticed music playing every time “I’m in the lobby of one of your buildings.” Which if you go into office buildings often, you don’t notice that, right?

DA: Right.

PK: You walk in, you see your lobby guy, you might wave, you go through the turnstile, that’s it. But for this owner, I’ve actually noticed I’ve been in a few of their buildings recently, and I walk in and there’s music being played, and it’s a nice environment. So, I mentioned that to him. I said, “I love it, I feel like I’m walking “into the W hotel or something like that.”

DA: Right. 

PK: I like the feel. And what he told me was that over the course of the pandemic, they started replacing some of their building or operation staff with personnel from the hospitality industry.

DA: Right.

PK: Now, why is that? Because people want to feel good about where they work. And these people from the hospitality industry.

DA: They get it.

PK: They get it, right? Exactly, they know how to drive experiences and that’s what it’s about right now in the office sector. And that’s what it has to be about. Because if it isn’t, the 20 something isn’t getting off their couch to go into the office, it’s just not going to happen. So owners need to be able to prioritize experiences and reimagine their buildings in a completely different way than they’ve ever thought about before. Because it is all right now about experience. And I thought this was a really interesting one to share with you. Just because you walk into these buildings, and now you’re hearing the music, you’re getting a different vibe, and they’re bringing in people from other industries, hospitality, this one, to enliven the experience even more. 

DA: Yep. No, it makes total sense. We’re seeing that as well. I heard one developer, I think I was on the multi-family side that’s introduced in a scent, i.e., a smell. And the hotel industry has done that for sure, where you’ll walk in, there’ll be this familiar scent, this familiar scent that will, you know, we’ll go, “Oh, I get that. “I know that, that’s recognizable.” And I think that’s where, to your point, not only the music, but then across different assets within a portfolio where they’re trying to not only create that experience, but they want that experience to be across their portfolio. And then what they’re doing is really creating a brand. 

PK: That’s right. 

DA: And I think that’s where the industry can, again, not only adopt a page from the hospitality industry, but just from the traditional marketing world, and for the most part, all businesses have always been focused on brand, but I don’t think commercial real estate really understood that.

PK: And if you look around in the commercial, you have your marketing background, right?

DA: Yeah.

PK: I’ve always been astonished that publicly traded REITs and large real estate organizations will have one dedicated marketing person.

DA: Right.

PK: One. I’ve been blown away by that for 10 years. And I think what you’re going to start to see even more of is those marketing departments are going to increase, there’s going to be more focus on tenant experience, you’ll have those departments. You’re going to have people way more focused on brand, because once you step in the foot, once you step into the door of an organization of a specific owner, that owner is going to want that person to believe and see that’s the brand they’re going to get when they step foot into any of their buildings across their portfolio. So, you know, we talk about technology a lot, and that’s what I focus on a lot with my clients. But, when we talk about getting people back into the office, technology is a component of that. It’s also bringing that experience to life. 

DA: Yeah. 

DA: Our position and then, we’re very focused on that sort of that digital experience and workplace experience, but technology’s not what does that, right? It does require a commitment to deliver programs and services that work towards that goal. The technology’s just the delivery mechanism, right? We’re the channel of communication. And sometimes, as we’ve continued to evolve our platform and talking with new partners, and I’m learning this as the person helping on the sales front, I’m recognizing that I have to qualify and say, “Listen, using technology is not the experience.” You have to be committed to creating that experience and delivering that experience. And we’re just going to help you make sure we get it to the right people. And I think that’s where the industry is evolving. And so my, just a quick off the cuff kind of question around, we obviously, the Class A buildings and the flight to quality, but you and I, when we met last week in New York, talked a little bit about the B and C market, and what a massive opportunity that represents. So, it’s 80% of the market. They’re never going to have a Head of Innovation. They might not even have a marketing person, it’s unlikely they, they might have someone looking after their workplace experience sort oF solution. So any thoughts, and this is sort of unscripted, but any thoughts on how we can help that massive part of the industry be more competitive? And that’s where we think technology can be a bit of an equalizer. But again, it can’t be the only part of the solution.

PK: Yeah. So, look there’s a tremendous competing interest right now with those owners that we have to bring forward, right? And that’s the fact that their assets are down, 40 to 60%. And those are real numbers. So once we get them to, which is not easy, right? But like once you get your head out of the fact that “Okay, we’re down a lot and we need “to figure out how we reposition,” which is not easy. The focus needs to be more about what we can be doing to recreate our space and allow these spaces to be destination filled, right?

DA: Right.

PK: So the area of New York City, again speaking in New York, that really blew up in a positive way, right? Canal Street to 34th Street, which is Midtown South. Now you have a lot of those B buildings in Midtown South. And now why did all those buildings become in favor over the past decade? Because they’re the brick and beam buildings. 

DA: Right.

PK: They’re the ones that the tenants want to be in. They have more character, right? There’s something to them that’s not midtown, right? It’s not the, as people talk about, it’s not where our parents used to work, right? 

DA: Right. 

PK: It’s the Midtown South brick and beam buildings. And I know you have ’em in Toronto where we were talking about Allied recently about how they have that fantastic portfolio of buildings that are in that class. So these, by the way, these are the B buildings.

DA: Right.

PK: Now, I think it’s taking the character, I think it’s taking the attributes that made those buildings what they are. That’s what attracted the Facebooks and the Twitters, and all those types of companies and the Spotifys to those buildings. And it’s building off of that. It’s working with the tenant, it’s working with the people inside your building to foster and create more of a sense of community. More of a sense of experience. But listen, David, it’s going to take some, it’s going to take a little bit of investment.

DA: Yeah.

PK: Right? And I know that’s something that the real estate community doesn’t want to hear right now, but we’re going to have to invest in our buildings in order for them to be the destinations that we want them to be, because we understand that converting them to residential isn’t a layup.

DA: Not a slam dunk, no.

PK: Right?

DA: No.

PK: It’s not a layup. And we need to be creative and listen, it’s the people that invest in their businesses, in their assets when times are tricky-

DA: Right.

PK: That come out of it in a much better position. Now, again, we could be, there could be some landlords and some owners that are listening to this and be like, “You know what, we got much bigger problems. “You could talk about experience all you want.” But there’s going to have to be emphasis on that. There’s going to have to be emphasis on turning your buildings into places where people want to go and get off their couch, or leave the coffee shop to go to because of what you’re providing them. So I do think there’s opportunity in those B buildings. ‘Cause those B buildings have character.

DA: Yeah.

PK: And younger people want to be in buildings with character and have a little bit something different to offer than those class A buildings, which the Class A buildings are great, but they’re different.

DA: I agree, I agree. And I’m glad you mentioned the collaboration between building owner and the occupant, their tenant. I too agree that I think there needs to be more collaboration. I don’t think it’s the building working independently, and then the occupant working independently to create that destination. I think there’s tremendous opportunity for collaboration and together, you know, and again, historically you did not see that. But I think going forward, if we see more of that, I think great things can be achieved in a much bigger and better way. 

PK: I mean, you’ve seen it as well. Used to be you sign a lease, you give them the keys and you walk away if you’re the building owner, right?

DA: Yeah. 

PK: Those times are over. That’s done with. You must have a relationship with your tenant right now. Otherwise, what are you doing? What are you building? They want to feel love. They want to feel loved. And if you’re, it’s way more of a partnership now in real estate than it’s ever have been before. 

DA: You know, we use that emotional word. We say, “People need to love where they work and live.” And it might sound soft, but it’s true. We need to surprise and delight our customers, and just like the hospitality industry. So let’s take a short commercial break, and we’ll be right back.

PK: Alright. 

COMMERCIAL BREAK

DA: And now I’d like to welcome back to the show Phil Kanfer, founder and CEO of Market Lane Advisors. Again, thank you for joining me and I’m looking forward to continuing this conversation. So, Phil, listen, given our respective backgrounds and what we’re doing today, I think we can both agree that technology is playing a significant role in shaping how building operators are delivering great experience to their tenants. And that workplace engagement is uppermost in everyone’s mind as we look for opportunities to do things differently. You know, so again, focusing now on helping to meet these emerging needs of people in buildings and hopefully to bring them back to these great experiences, what are you seeing, what’s gaining traction not only in the workplace and experience side of the equation, but just overall, what kinds of startups, first of all, are you seeing most and maybe as you’re engaging with building partners, what are they asking for? What are they looking for? What do they think they need? 

PK: Yeah. Well, you know, listen to go with your last question first. You’d be surprised how many owners are still on Excel.

DA: Okay.

PK: And they’re still using archaic systems and they know it, but it is early innings for a lot of these owners, right? We can’t only talk about the Class A plus plus owners that hit the papers, hit the real deal, hit the trades, right? There’s many, many hundreds of owners that are still using manual tasks where there’s a very efficient and automated way of doing things. And it’s difficult to get into all of them, in one conversation. But there’s a shift that I’m seeing that’s going on in real estate in terms of a mind shift in thinking. I do see now owners that are focused on creating the new version of their business, right? Like how do we look in 2025 and beyond, you know? Right, 2024 and beyond. And they realize that the way that they’re doing things tody has to change. Why? Because the industry has changed. And it’s because PropTech companies have been smart with their offerings. They’ve identified some needs and some gaps in the marketplace, the way people do things. I’ll give you an example, right? There’s a few companies out there, and I think this has been in vogue recently with AI, but companies out there that are doing lease abstracting, through machine learning. Now how does that process occur today? How do you look at a lease and how do you abstract a lease? It’s an admin. It’s somewhat, it could be legal lawyers are looking at that as well. But this is a manual process that’s being done by the majority of real estate companies that are out there in the world right now. And it takes a ton of time and it’s massively inefficient. And you have real companies that are out there right now that are bringing AI and machine learning with tremendously high degrees of accuracy, to make that process more efficient, less time consuming, and just a better mousetrap for people. So if you think of that, right? Like automating a manual task. This is being done across the industry right now. We’re replacing the manual with the automated and doing so in a way where we could be more efficient with our time.

DA: Right. 

PK: So that’s one example. I think we need to think about, we need to go non tenant facing versus tenant facing, right? Because there’s a lot of technology that’s out there in the industry that the tenant doesn’t see, that the owner is adopting that is very, very useful to that end user, and very, very useful to the building owner. There have been tremendous advances in energy management over the past decade. I think the advancements have been incredible. I just spent the past four months doing diligence on close to two dozen energy management platforms, and what they’re able to do now for an owner to help them reduce their emissions and save costs, and assist engineering team. The end user might not see that happening, but it’s happening behind the scenes. There’s software connecting to BMS systems that’s reducing costs, reducing emissions, and just helping owners be smarter with their ESG strategies. So, you know, you’re seeing things in the energy management space. You’re seeing things with sensors. There’s companies out there like an info grid that’s deploying sensors to allow owners to understand their buildings more. For instance, hey, there hasn’t been this tenant, or these group of people haven’t occupied this side of the office or this side of the building in the past week. And guess what, we don’t have to deploy a lot of cleaning staff or we don’t have to deploy a lot of time and attention to that area because people haven’t been there. Those are opex costs for owners that, with new technologies that are out in the marketplace, is just getting owners smarter, and better connected to their buildings to understand them more. So there’s things that are going on that the tenant may or may not see that operationally are helping buildings get to that next level.

DA: Great.

PK: In terms of, yeah, go ahead.

DA: No, I was going to say, I think you’re, quite astute to a point out that there’s the tenant facing and the non tenant facing, and some of those non tenant facing are massive opportunities that ultimately have dramatic impact on the experience that’s offered and also likely in terms of costs associated with the running of the building.

PK: That’s a hundred percent right. And you know, I think we were talking about it before, but innovation is built brick by brick, right? That’s how it’s built, brick by brick, until we get to the final result where transformation occurs. 

DA: Right.

PK: There isn’t a magic pixie dust that you could sprinkle over an organization that will ultimately bring tenants back to the building, or completely transform your organization because of this piece of technology. It’s not out there in the marketplace, but layer by layer, brick by brick, as we continue to implement new technology systems that yields a better experience.

DA: Yeah.

PK: From a tenant facing standpoint, what are some of the things that I’m seeing as well? You know, I see owners, I’m going to talk now top of the market, Class A, Class A plus that are focused more on smart buildings today. So, think of you’re sitting at your desk, I’m an employee and I’m sitting at my desk and I book a conference room and they know that Phil Kanfer booked the conference room, and that conference room already knows my AV preferences, how I like the temperature, how I like the room to be set up, the lighting, all that kind of stuff, so that when I get in, I can start my meeting. 

DA: Right. 

PK: How many times do we go into a meeting and it’s at two o’clock and it doesn’t start till 2:10 or 2:15 because we’re hooking up USBs, we’re getting the, making sure that the prompter’s working, whatever it is, and it takes away from the meeting. So there’s smart building technologies that are allowing that to happen. Allow me to be able to sit at my desk and control the temperature, control the shades just by the press of a button, right? Like these are things that I’m seeing some of the top of the market that are focused on. Smart buildings, bringing in smarter tenants, more sophisticated tenants that care about things like that.

DA: Right. 

PK: So that’s one part of it. Some of the others, they’re not going to be the sexiest ones, but they help from an experience standpoint, right? We could talk about don’t yawn, but we could talk about access control for a second. There are buildings I know that I go to that I have to get there 15 minutes early, because when I get there, I’m going to check in. I’m not going to be in the system. They’re going to have to talk to the tenant. They have to put me in and I’m waiting 15 minutes. So what happens now? There are some buildings I go to, I just get a QR code sent to me the day before. I get the QR code, I get to the building, I scan it through the reader, it knows what floor I’m going to. I go right up, done. I don’t have to interface with anybody at the lobby. Nothing. Those are experiences, now, by the way, are those experiences that are bringing tenants back to the building? No, but you see the thought process happening.

DA: Yeah.

PK: Right? Owners are implementing these things way more than they have been in the past. And those are all things that drive experience. 

DA: Well, I mean, your brick by brick analogy, I think is a good one. It’s each one of these little points in time or points along the continuum of what that experience looks like, contributes to a better experience ultimately.

PK: And experience led, right? And that’s going to take things from our conversation today. It’s erring on the side of more experience, because technology will yield the experience. But there isn’t a one-stop shop. I’ll give you another example. It’s been publicized here in New York. But, there’s an owner called Marks Realty. And Marks has done a couple interesting things. One, they have a Porsche Cayenne, I believe it is, one or two in their building that their tenants could use. It’s at their disposal. So, “hey, come sign a lease in in our building “and you’re going to have access to this Porsche Cayenne.” Never happened before.

DA: It’s very cool.

PK: In addition, now this is very cool, right? Super cool. Now in addition, this is going to sound trivial, but it completes the picture for someone who’s deciding between, or maybe it doesn’t complete it, but it helps the picture of someone who’s deciding, “Should I work from home or should I go to the office?” They have those Keurig coffee machines, right? So they have a Keurig coffee machine type thing, but it’s for gelato.

DA: Right. 

PK: So I was in the office on a Friday and he shows me this machine and he opens up his fridge and it’s completely empty. Nothing in the fridge. Now, generally, he said there’s these gelato pods stacked in the fridge. People come in, they take ’em, it was empty because everyone’s used them. Now what is that doing? Me and my team who’s working in that building has the opportunity to go and go to this Keurig machine, make some gelato as a team. It’s so cool. Who doesn’t want to go to work and have ice cream and enjoy themselves? Have a team meeting. Go take your team and debrief in this corner. And again, it sounds silly.

DA: Yeah. 

PK: Right? But these are the things that are fostering senses of community. And instead of, again, sitting on your couch like, “Hey, I’m going to go in and I’m going to chat with my team. “I’m going to collaborate. “We’re going to have some ice cream, “we’re going to go for a walk.” They’re small, right? 

DA: Right.

PK: But if we go brick by brick.

DA: They add up, they add up, they add up, and they’re not expensive. I think we could go on and on. And I think as you’re just continuing to get your feet wet in this new role in this new company, I think you’re going to have a lot of fun doing it. I think you’re going to be creating a lot of opportunity on both sides of the coin. You know, helping building operators to be more efficient with their deployment of technology and helping the best startups, the best technology providers to find new opportunities within the industry. I look forward to continuing our conversation, finding ways to collaborate, and we’ll definitely continue this conversation. Hopefully have you back on a future episode to see where we are six months or 12 months from now. And I suspect it’ll be a little bit different for sure. Before we let you go though, our closing speed round, just to get an opportunity to get to know Phil a little bit more on a personal level. So I’m just curious, when you’re not working, when you’re not building out this new company, what do you enjoy doing?

PK: When I’m not working, you’re most likely to find me on a baseball field with my family, and my son who’s playing baseball every weekend. So that’s the most likely place you’re going to find me on a baseball field somewhere in the New York tri-state area.

DA: Okay, very good. Is there a favorite drink of choice? Beverage of choice?

PK: Yeah, I keep it simple. I’m a Bourbon on the rocks kind of guy. Maybe a Blanton’s on the Rocks. Pretty simple.

DA: Okay, mental note. Favorite movie or current TV series that you’re watching?

PK: Favorite movie is probably “Rounders”.

DA: Okay, I don’t know that one. “Rounders”, okay.

PK: It’s Matt Damon and it’s Ed Norton Jr. It’s a good one. You should check it out.

DA: Okay. I will. Name one way in which technology has improved, how you personally live or work.

PK: Yeah, I mean, look, the easy thing is Zoom and video chatting, right? Like there’s nothing better than in person, but there are smaller type meetings that can be achieved in the way we use Zoom and we use video chatting where we used to get on a plane for a quick meeting that we needed to accomplish. And I think now the industry has accepted and appreciated that we could use video chatting, in a way that we haven’t used before. It’s not my preferred use of and way of communication.

DA: Right.

PK: But it gets the job done on smaller meetings that would generally be in person.

DA: Agreed, agreed. What is your personal choice for days spent in person working with colleagues versus working remotely? Working from anywhere? 

PK: Yeah, look, I want to be around people. I love collaboration. I’m a people person. I get my energy off of being around others.

DA: Yeah.

PK: You know, being realistic. I see that three days a week is probably a healthy balance for the workforce right now. You know, if it’s me, I want to see people, is it five days a week in the office? It’s probably not, we’re probably not going back to that. But three or four days I think there’s no better substitute than being around people and being able to collaborate and share ideas.

DA: Sounds good to me. Listen Phil, thank you so much for joining me on the program today. Thanks for sharing your insights, wishing you continued success as you build up Market Lane. Look forward to finding opportunities to collaborate and continue in our conversation. 

PK: Yeah, I appreciate it. Thank you for having me. 

DA: Thanks Phil, take care. 

PK: All right.

DA: I want to thank Phil Kanfer for joining me on this episode of TEN, and for contributing to the global conversation around buildings being part of a robust ecosystem, helping to build great companies, and that they are vital in the effort to cultivate and support great people and teams. The future of the workplace will likely take many forms and we’ll continue to explore what that looks like together. Subscribe to TEN for more conversations with leading CRE industry professionals and experts who all have something to say about tenant experience and the future of the workplace. We love hearing from you. So if you enjoyed this episode of TEN, please share, add your rating and review us through your preferred podcast provider. 

If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on a future episode, please reach out to me directly at david@hiloapp.com. And until our next episode, I wish you all continued success in building community where you work and live, thank you.

Celebrating 60 Conversations on TEN

Hard to believe that it’s been over 3 years since we launched the Tenant Experience Network (TEN) podcast as a way to connect with people at a time when we all felt isolated. Host and HILO Co-founder and CEO, David Abrams, has had the opportunity to interview some amazing people from leading CRE and Proptech companies, and in real-time, share what’s really happening in buildings and communities across North America. David wanted the program to provide a true pulse on what was actually going on in the industry, across all asset classes, without being sensational or polarizing, as is often found in the media.

Peter Riguardi | Chairman & President, New York Region | JLL | Lessons in selling CRE in NYC

Season 4 / Episode 15 / 28:35
In this episode, Peter says he seeing an increase in people coming back to the workplace and occupiers using the office to competitively attract talent. He has also noticed a significant push to the best office buildings, regardless of their location. With 460 million square feet of office space in NYC, only time will tell how much space use will have to change.

Celebrating 60 Conversations on TEN

Hard to believe that it’s been over 3 years since we launched the Tenant Experience Network (TEN) podcast as a way to connect with people at a time when we all felt isolated. Host and HILO Co-founder and CEO, David Abrams, has had the opportunity to interview some amazing people from leading CRE and Proptech companies, and in real-time, share what’s really happening in buildings and communities across North America. David wanted the program to provide a true pulse on what was actually going on in the industry, across all asset classes, without being sensational or polarizing, as is often found in the media.

Peter Riguardi | Chairman & President, New York Region | JLL | Lessons in selling CRE in NYC

Season 4 / Episode 15 / 28:35
In this episode, Peter says he seeing an increase in people coming back to the workplace and occupiers using the office to competitively attract talent. He has also noticed a significant push to the best office buildings, regardless of their location. With 460 million square feet of office space in NYC, only time will tell how much space use will have to change.