Start-up America, the Obama administration’s initiative to boost small companies, offers entrepreneurs special access to almost every kind of business service under the sun: Market research from Question Pro, mentoring from Ernst & Young, payroll from Intuit — the list goes on.
Now Jones Lang LaSalle, the giant real estate broker, has joined the bandwagon with the offer of helping start-ups find cheap office space.
“Real estate is the second-largest cost for most organizations, and that’s one reason Startup America decided to partner with Jones Lang LaSalle,” said JLL senior vice president Andy O’Brien in a phone interview.
JLL was a lead sponsor for Startup D.C.’s Entreprelooza event, which was held Tuesday, and it helped the newly formed group find the 70,000-square foot pop-up art space in which it was held.
The company said it will continue helping connect entrepreneurs with office space, either for work or for events, in 20 such emerging “ecosystems” — cities where entrepreneurship is on the rise but not as well-formed as in Silicon Valley or New York.
O’Brien said the company can use its market research technology to help start-ups find suitable, inexpensive space. For example, he said the firm could zoom in on a block near a Metro station that has the most college graduates with engineering degrees, or on an office building with the fastest type of Internet connection.
“We represent more tenants than anyone else in D.C.,” he said. “We know clients that may have a couple of offices or some under-utilized space, but a lot of entrepreneurs don’t have access to that kind of information unless they hire an adviser.”
So why would a commercial real estate company want to help tenants that are liable to boom and bust within a matter of days? LaSalle likes to get involved while a business is still young, O’Brien explained.
“We have in the past represented companies that are three to four people, and we’ve seen them grow to 100 or 150 people,” he said. “We believe in helping companies in the early stages so they will grow and develop relationships that can continue into the long term.”