*NEWS: Startup Incubated in OC Raises More Than $10M

Bennett Washabaugh, co-founder and CEO, TenantBase

A tech-enabled commercial real estate brokerage startup that was incubated in Irvine raised $10.7 million in its latest venture round.

TenantBase, which has since moved its HQ to Santa Monica, was founded by CEO Bennett Washabaugh, CTO Andy Kish and COO Mike Zei. The founders started discussing the idea for the technology after working as brokers in Chicago. The company targets small businesses. More than 80% of the U.S. tenant base falls into the small-business category. Hence the name of the company.

The funding was led by Stonecutter TenantBase Investors, an affiliate of New York-based Stonecutter Capital, and also included the individual partners of Razor’s Edge Ventures, with HQ in Reston, VA.

TenantBase will use the funding to hire tech talent and brokers, as well as to expand nationally, Washabaugh said. The company’s geographic reach now includes OC, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas, as well as Nashville, where it introduced the first version of its platform in 2014.

TenantBase’s business model focuses on automating steps in the search for space and automating the negotiation process. The company employs more than 30 in-house brokers across its five markets to assist clients throughout the process. The platform essentially operates as a do-it-yourself service where small businesses can act on their own, including browsing space options, scheduling office tours and requesting proposals.

The service is free for tenants. Landlords pay a brokerage fee.

TenantBase continues to use its own brokers because it believes clients want a one-stop shopping experience from start to finish when searching for commercial space.

Using its own brokers also yields a lot of useful, later-stage transaction data, and data is equivalent to gold these days.

In 2015, the TenantBase team moved to OC after being accepted into the Irvine branch of tech startup incubator EvoNexus, with HQ in San Diego. It graduated from EvoNexus and moved out after its first batch of hires in mid-2016. It then moved to the Irvine Towers and moved its HQ to Santa Monica two months ago.

TenantBase still has a big presence in OC, with its largest brokerage office here. (It just moved its OC office to Newport Beach.)

TenantBase’s move of its HQ to L.A. leaves Digsy AI as one of the main players with HQ in OC in the tech-enabled commercial real estate startup space. Digsy pivoted from a brokerage model like TenantBase to providing a CRM (customer-relationship-management) system as a resource for brokers. Digsy AI’s Next Gen Commercial Real Estate uses artificial intelligence.

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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