At the Desk of: Nick Romito

The VTS startup founder on surfing, his office kegerator and his 2.5 billion square feet
of office space

Apr.April 01, 2016 12:00 PM
Nick Romito (Photos by Michael McWeeney)

Nick Romito (Photos by Michael McWeeney)

In a nod to his former life, Nick Romito has named all the conference rooms in his new 16,000-square-foot office in Midtown after surf spots, including “Pipeline,” the infamous surf reef break in Hawaii, and “Mavericks” and “Trestles,” both in California. The 33-year-old founder of the real estate tech startup VTS — which provides commercial brokers and landlords with a web platform to track leasing data and portfolio performance — was once a teenage competitive surfer sponsored by big labels like Billabong and Nixon watches. But the Toms River, N.J., native ultimately opted for a career on land. In 2005, he joined Murray Hill Properties and four years later he co-founded commercial real estate firm Titan Global Advisors. Then in 2011, he founded View The Space with his childhood surfing buddy Ryan Masiello. Originally, the company offered online video tours of Manhattan office spaces, but it’s since become a cloud-based leasing management company with a massive 2.5 billion square feet internationally in its system, including “a few hundred million” square feet in NYC. It has raised $34 million in venture capital and is reported to be valued at approximately $100 million. Romito’s top clients include Hines, JLL, Jamestown, Boston Properties and the Blackstone Group, which just bought a $3.3 million stake in the company. The firm’s 115 employees are spread across six offices, including one in London. In February, VTS upgraded its Manhattan office and moved to 119 West 40th Street. Romito, who sits in the center of the bullpen-style office, attributes his success to his days as an athlete. “Surfing is a sport where you’re constantly forced to look at your surroundings and adapt,” he said. “That’s a lot like commercial real estate.”

Nick-Romito-celeb-photoCelebrity photos

Signed photos of actor Sylvester Stallone and supermodel Cindy Crawford sit on Romito’s desk. The “Rocky” and “Creed” star’s note says, “Keep punching!” and the Crawford pic says, “Congrats on your first million! I’m sure it won’t be the last.” Romito was given both photos as gifts from friends and colleagues. “It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “Some of these guys started the same way.”

Father’s Day card

Nick-Romito-fathers-day-cardRomito and his wife, Leah Wyar Romito, the beauty director of Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazines, have a 16-month-old son named Axel. Romito keeps this Father’s Day card on his desk — made by his son’s daycare teachers — which describes him as Axel’s favorite superhero. Romito and Masiello, who has a 9-month-old daughter, are constantly swapping baby stories. “Mine’s older so I’m usually taking the brunt of it and then telling him all about it,” Romito said.

Nick-Romito-deskStanding desk

These new standing desks were requested by the engineers on VTS’s development team who are glued to their computer screens all day. Romito, who is frequently sitting in meetings, tries to stand when he’s at his desk, where he’s always listening to music. Currently on the playlist: remixes of songs by Notorious B.I.G.

Nick-Romito-boxing-gloveBoxing glove

This boxing glove was a birthday gift from his brother Rocco and is signed by top-ranked middleweight boxing champion Gennady Golovkin — otherwise known as Triple G. Romito’s father, Nick Romito Sr., was a former professional boxer who “loves to talk about how he frequently sparred with Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.” Romito himself learned to box when he was 8.

Nick-Romito-sunglassesSunglasses

These navy matte sunglasses were designed by VTS and given out at last year’s MIPIM, an international real estate conference. The goal was to create something that guests would actually want to wear. “We didn’t want to make any old swag that you just give to your kids to break,” he said. VTS gave out the same sunnies at this year’s conference, which was held last month in Cannes, in a variety of colors, including a clear version.

Nick-Romito-surfboardSurfboard

A Dan Taylor, custom-made surfboard rests against a wall next to Romito’s desk. The 5’7” board actually belongs to VTS co-founder Masiello but is identical to one Romito owns. The two partners met at a surfing contest when they were 10 years old and have been friends ever since. They have even managed to turn some of their colleagues on to surfing.

Nick-Romito-kegeratorKegerator

The beer dispenser is another addition to VTS’s new, souped-up office. The keg is filled with a different beer every week, including Sierra Nevada or Stella Artois. The office’s open-floor plan, which is still being built out, will include picnic benches and couches in the kitchen, and a “brainstorming” area.

Nick-Romito-action-journalAction journal

Five years ago, Romito bought this “Action Method” journal, which is designed with pages for outlining goals, breaking down tasks and sketching out ideas. The journal was where Romito first documented the idea that eventually led to View the Space. The first page is a sketch of VTS’s early logo designs.


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