Spotlight on SpaceList, an Online Marketplace for Commercial Real Estate

by Bianca Bartz 2 years ago

SpaceList is Canada’s leading marketplace for office, retail and industrial space for lease and for sale. SpaceList — a HIGHLINE portfolio company — has made it free and incredibly simple to list and search for commercial real estate. They host over 700 million square feet of available space and generate over 150 inquiries each day. SpaceList gives businesses and brokers complete, rich and accurate information to help them discover incredible spaces and make smart decisions about where to locate.

About Bill MacEwen

Bill is the Founder & CEO of SpaceList. Previously, he worked in Asset Management with Deecorp Properties and helped kickstart the co-working movement with WorkSpace. He has a BA from the University of British Columbia and an MBA from Babson College.

Q&A With Bill MacEwen

How do you feel that being part of GrowLab (now HIGHLINE) prepared you for success?

I think even before we started, Len told me flat out that we needed to be national if we wanted to graduate. At the time we were just a Vancouver platform getting about 7,000 visits/month and I hadn’t been to Toronto since I was a kid. Going into new cities like that was a bit scary, but I knew the opportunities were there. I’d like to say that HIGHLINE gave me a gentle nudge, but Len is not that gentle.

What was the moment you knew SpaceList had legs?

The other day this guy came into our office to fix the fireplace (yes, we have a fireplace in our office; yes, it’s very cozy) and the fireplace guy asked us if we were “The SpaceList.” Turns out he’s been looking for a place to open a fireplace shop and he’s been using the site a lot.

I thought that was funny. The whole point of SpaceList is to help people like the fireplace guy. That kind of thing has been happening a lot recently.

How has your product evolved from MVP to now?

One of the biggest changes is behind the scenes. In the early days I would enter listings myself off of PDFs or whatever format came to me. Now we get about 1,000 updates to our listings each day and we have invested heavily in a system to automate that process and make sure the information is accurate and complete. You can’t see any of that when you visit the site, but you see the results in the listings we put forward.

Was there ever a moment in your entrepreneurial journey when you felt you’d failed?

My last startup was a co-working space. After months and months of prep we opened our doors and no one showed up. I remember the exact moment. I thought I had made a huge mistake and I freaked out.

The thing is, it was 6:00 AM. I was so fired up that I thought people would show up at 6:00 AM. No one shows up at 6:00 AM at a coworking space. People started rolling in at 9:00 AM and all was well.

What are you focused on now?

Building a sales team. We worked really hard last year to figure out how best to monetize SpaceList without subverting our growth. We did that and built some great features that are generating real revenue. Now we are hiring account managers to improve awareness of our products, onboarding and customer service.

Describe your company culture in 10 words or less.

Becoming less crazy and more fun.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The calls you are most afraid to make are the most important.

Follow Bill on Twitter: @macewen