After Trustwave co-founder Andrew Bokor helped lead his cybersecurity company to a $770 million exit in 2015, the serial entrepreneur left to launch a new startup, this time tackling a completely different problem: commercial real estate.
In March 2016 Bokor, along with co-founders Robert Goodman, Thomas Smith and Marshall Hudes, quietly launched Truss, a commercial real estate platform that helps small businesses find available office space. While at Trustwave, Bokor handled real estate transactions and found that it was difficult for tenants to find quality, objective building information online.
That kind of information has been around the residential real estate market for years, with sites like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin and others making searching for homes easier than ever. Truss wants bring that same search functionality to small businesses, but take it even further by creating an end-to-end service that walks tenants through the negotiation and lease signing process.
Truss, in essence, is a tech-enabled brokerage, Bokor said. Companies can handle all of the aspects of the office space search through Truss, allowing them to search, tour, analyze, negotiate and sign lease documents all on one platform. Truss also plans to soon incorporate virtual reality into its service, allowing tenants to get a better sense of the space.
Truss uses machine learning and data science to help find properties that best fit a business’s needs, and it uses artificial intelligence to help advise clients on the fair market price for a space and schedule tours.
But eventually, clients will want to see an office in person, and at that point Truss will coordinate an on-site visit with the tenant. But the idea is that you’ve gotten so much information prior to your visit, you’ve likely narrowed your search down to just a handful of possible spaces, Bokor said.
“We really wanted to change the way the tenants approach (commercial real estate), in a much more intuitive way that had a lot of technology applied to it,” Bokor said. “The vast majority of the experience is tech based. But there’s an element of a broker behind the scenes that can help.”
Bokor said Truss has around 85% of the downtown Chicago market covered on its platform. The startup plans to initially be in Chicago and Dallas, where co-founder Thomas Smith is based, and then expand nationally.
Truss has a team of 12, made up of real estate pros and in-house development and UI/UX teams focused on building the product. The startup has raised a $1.5 million seed round from Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, New Coast Ventures and angel investors.
Eventually, Bokor said Truss will have an even greater focus on VR to help companies find office space, and it plans for technology to be “front and center” during the commercial real estate process.
“In five years, Truss will be the de facto standard in terms of how you complete commercial real estate transactions for small tenants,” Bokor said.
Images via Truss