Truss opening up online commercial leasing platform to other brokers nationwide

The Chicago-based brokerage lists thousands of office, retail and industrial spaces smaller than 10K sf

Jun.June 06, 2019 02:10 PM
From top to bottom: Truss co-founders Bobby Goodman, Marshal Hudes, Tom Smith and Andy Bokor; and a view of a Truss office in River North

From top to bottom: Truss co-founders Bobby Goodman, Marshall Hudes, Tom Smith and Andy Bokor; and a view of a Truss office in River North

Truss is letting competing brokerages use its online platform for small-office leasing.

The Chicago-based company is launching Truss CRE, which lets commercial tenants search a database of available properties and execute leases online. The service for now is only available to brokers in the Boston area, but the company plans to expand it nationwide.

Truss lets commercial landlords and co-working firms list available spaces on its platform, where tenants can compare rents and take virtual tours.

So far, the company has been the “tenant broker of record” in all the leases it facilitates, according to co-founder Andy Bokor. But starting this week, other brokers will be able to use the technology to help their clients book tours, negotiate rents and even execute leases, Bokor said.

“We’re taking the know-how of our product that we use for our transaction platform, and we’re making it available to other brokers who we may not have a relationship with,” Bokor said. “They’ll be able to provide an experience that’s dramatically different” from the traditional, “prescriptive” process of manually surveying properties one by one, he added.

During its introductory period, the service will be free for competing tenant-rep brokers.

Bokor co-founded Truss in 2016 with Bobby Goodman, Tom Smith and Marshall Hudes, with the goal of connecting office tenants with spaces measuring 10,000 square feet or less. The platform now also includes retail and industrial spaces among its listings.

After a series of beta tests and funding rounds totalling some $9 million, the service went live early last year.

In January, Truss raised another $15.2 million from a group of investors led by Massachusetts-based General Catalyst Partners. The company now boasts some 300 million square feet of listings offered by about 1,400 unique landlords across 11 markets including Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles.

Under the program, landlords can list their properties on the site for free, and Truss gets a commission on every lease signed.

The firm launched Truss CRE as a way to expand into markets where it doesn’t already employ brokers, Bokor said.

“We feel there’s enough business to go around” for other brokerages to use Truss’ technology, Bokor said.

More than half of the tenant-rep brokers active in Downtown Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts already are using the platform, according to the company.

Large-scale office and industrial leases typically are negotiated by major brokerages like JLL and CBRE, while local shops market spaces with 50 desks or fewer. When a big brokerage comes across a space it considers too small for it to handle, it will often “kick it over” to Truss, Smith told The Real Deal earlier this year.

The firm focuses most heavily on offices measuring between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet, enough space for some 25 employees, Smith added.

In 2017, Truss partnered with tech firm Matterport to incorporate 3D virtual tours offices into its platform.

Months earlier, CBRE acquired Floored, one of a host of tech startups offering virtual tours. Between 2012 and 2017, virtual reality companies raised nearly $4.7 billion in combined capital.

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