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Crelow aims to be Uber and online dating app for commercial real estate

Updated: 02/09/2016 12:46:35 PM PST

Crelow hopes to do for commercial real estate's small tenants what Uber has done for hailing rides and dating web sites have done for romantic connections.

The service is a tech app that connects small tenants with office space, but isn't a traditional platform where tenants must browse through hundreds of listings of office space.

"We are like an eHarmony, or Uber, or Priceline for office space," said Jim Simpson, chief executive officer and co-founder of Minneapolis-based Crelow. "We are a demand driven marketplace with a really simple goal, to help tenants find the right office space."


The Crelow online site has no listings at all, Simpson said. Rents for available spaces are not listed.

The market for a particular tenant requirement is established by the tenant listing information about themselves on the Crelow site. The vibe or the culture of the business that is looking for office space are among the descriptions that are included for the tenant. And much like a dating site, the tenant seeks to make a great first impression.

"The information is posted on the public deal board on the Crelow site," Simpson said. "It's available for the entire commercial real estate industry and for landlords to see, and they can bid for those requests. If they like what they see, then they can connect with the tenant."


The site is geared towards small tenants, who, by the estimates of Crelow executives, make up about 80 percent of transactions. What's more, about 80 percent of office tenants have space requirements of 5,000 square feet or less. Major commercial realty brokerages such as CB Richard Ellis, Cushman & Wakefield, and Transwestern have used the site, which recently launched in the Bay Area.

SMC Pros, a Minnesota-based digital marketing and advertising agency, was seeking about 3,000 square feet of space in the Twin Cities area during the fall of 2015, said Gary Stockert, president of SMC.

What is the best online dating app

"We were growing and we needed more space, and because our company is small, it's often a struggle to get brokers to pay attention to us," Stockert said. "We often found that people who initially were gung-ho to help us, would later be difficult to get on the phone."

SMC Pros submitted its profile to the Crelow site and within a day, the company began getting offers from landlords.

"I was very happy with the options that were presented to us," Stockert said. "We could display the culture of our company and what we were looking to become."

Eventually, the company found office space near downtown Minneapolis and moved to the new headquarters in late December.

"It's the best thing for our team, and they are very happy for the new location," Stockert said. "It's a big boy space. We're all grown up now as a company."

If a tenant likes the first glance description of an office space, then the tenant would pay $100 to view the full description of the site. That up-front fee is refunded to the tenant if a lease is signed. On a long-term basis, Crelow will harvest revenue from signed leases. Property owners must agree to pay Crelow 15 cents a square foot per year after the lease is signed.

Crelow launched in Minneapolis, and has since expanded into Denver, Houston, Phoenix, and the Seattle-Tacoma area, before venturing into the Bay Area this month, said Patrick Hagen, chief content officer and co-founder of Crelow.

While the Bay Area is the home of mega-deals such as huge campuses for Apple, Google, and other technology giants, along with a host of deals in the 100,000-square-foot range, Crelow executives believe they'll prosper nicely in this region.

"The market dynamics in the Bay Area are just the reason why a solution such as Crelow is needed," Hagen said. "There are many smaller tenants."

The average deal size is 3,500 square feet, Crelow executives estimated.

"Even 50,000 square feet becomes known as small in a market such as the Bay Area," Hagen said.

Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167. Follow him at Twitter/georgeavalos .

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