Laurie: Today I’m speaking with Taj Adhav, co-founder/CEO of Leasecake—a new company with a very interesting offering for the commercial real estate market. Taj, can you tell me a little bit about what Leasecake does and why you started it
Taj: Sure. Leasecake is for people who own commercial properties and for tenants that lease commercial properties. We created Leasecake to simplify commercial real estate lease management—we name it Leasecake because we want to make managing leases a piece of cake. The solution helps people easily keep track of rent increases, lease expirations, and to facilitate communication between owners and tenants about critical information.
Laurie: How do people manage this now?
Taj: The status quo for people on both sides has been to use antiquated tools–like spreadsheets, whiteboards, sticky notes, reminders on your phone. But this approach doesn’t really help people optimize their real estate assets. For instance, landlords want to find the best tenants, get the rent paid on time, and keep track of all those critical dates and dollars. Leasecake replaces the disconnected applications and manual methods they use. It puts it all in one place, and automates the work that needs to get done.
Laurie: Can you describe a scenario of how customers use Leasecake?
Taj: One example is for a landlord that owns several retail plazas and warehouses. The landlord might have two or three employees to manage hundreds of thousands of square feet, and 30, 50 or more tenants. Leasecake puts all the information they need to manage their customers and properties at their fingertips. They can quickly answer tenants’ questions, such as what leases are coming up, what space is becoming available, or what’s the next rent increase? Leasecake puts this information in the palm of your hands, whenever and wherever you need it.
Laurie: How did Leasecake get started?
Taj: We’ve been around about a year. We built the solution around the problem. My co-founder and friend, Jim Bankston, manages 50 tenants in nine buildings. He was doing it all with spreadsheets and Outlook. I said there has to be a better way of managing dates, dollars, and everything else associated with leasing. Jim is the subject matter expert behind Leasecake. He doesn’t need a big expensive platform, but something he can use on his phone or tablet.
Laurie: You have a mobile first strategy?
Taj: Yes, everything is enabled from mobile first—iPhone, iPad, Samsung phone, or whatever, you can do everything from there. It’s a simplified user experience, very easy to navigate.
Laurie: I understand that Leasecake also helps improve collaboration between landlords and tenants. How does that work?
Taj: In this small to medium business market, it’s about relationships. Landlords invite their tenants to use Leasecake, and the application automatically notifies them about important things, like your lease is expiring in 180 days, and then helps them negotiate a new lease. It facilitates communication between both parties, it’s transparent, and eliminates surprises.
Laurie: Who are your clients? Landlords, tenants or both?
Taj: It’s a mix. For instance, we have clients who are franchisees, that lease hundreds of locations—like Papa John’s or Moe’s Southwest Grill. Today, a franchisee may be dealing with 50 different lease agreements for their locations. Wondering when does this or that lease expire, or whatever they need to manage their properties.
Laurie: So they don’t get blindsided. Does it also help them take advantage of an opportunity, like if a new space opens up?
Taj: Yes. A lease is nothing but a collection of words on a piece of paper in a drawer. You only think about it when you need to. But now the information is readily available to both parties, they get notified about events, like we agreed that I need to give you six months’ notice that I’m going to exercise that option. Say your lease is coming due–both sides can collaborate right within Leasecake on a new agreement.
Laurie: Does it help landlords’ onboard new tenants?
Taj: Yes. Landlords use Leasecake to communicate the “welcome packet” information about who to call for internet services, gas, power, when the dumpsters get unloaded, what’s the parking ratio and more. Everything is uploaded in Leasecake to share with all of your tenants. You create it one time, avoid all those same calls.
Laurie: What size of a landlord or tenant are you targeting?
Taj: There’s not a magic number, but it could start at two or three properties whether you’re a landlord or tenant. It’s when you’re feeling pain, you’re forgetting things that put your business at risk. If you have 300 or more tenants that could be the magic number on the top end, where you’re going to want to hire someone to manage your properties. Our largest customer has about 110 tenants.
Laurie: Tell me about the pricing model.
Taj: For landlords with fewer than 50 units, it’s just $19.99 per month for basic services. That same landlord will pay $199 per month for premium features that include collecting rent electronically, advanced role assignments for team members, and uploading premium documents.
Laurie: How is Leasecake funded?
Taj: We’re currently bootstrapped with a friend and family round. We are going to seek venture capital coming in the spring.
Laurie: Sounds like a good investment to explore! Taj, thanks again.
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