- August 27, 2009
Tyler Carlson has a succinct way of explaining what makes a good client for his startup commercial real estate data business: “If you are driving around town,” Carlson says, “and see a sign that says for rent or lease, that’s our customer.”
Carlson’s Tampa-based firm is Resquared, which he runs with tech entrepreneur Griffin Morris. The model at Resquared is a Software-as-a-Service platform for shopping center and other retail landlords to find and secure tenants — a task that’s obviously grown significantly more challenging in an e-commerce world. “You can’t just put out a sign and leave the property,” Carlson says.
'The industry is going through disruption, and property owners have to lean toward this evolution.’ Tyler Carlson, Resquared
Resquared clients include real estate investment trusts and broker/property representatives, too. The key to Resquared’s model is data. It’s built a comprehensive database with intelligence on retail shops, restaurants, medical offices and any other consumer-facing businesses in the United States and Canada. The data includes everything from contact info to business history to customer reviews.
A Resquared client, with access to its Local Tenant Recruiting Platform, can check out potential tenants in the database, bypassing what some brokers who specialize in leases normally compile on their own. Morris and Carlson call it Retail Canvassing 2.0. “We’re taking things from old-school prospecting to digital prospecting, and we are doing it really targeted so our clients can quickly reach decision makers,” says Carlson, 29. “The industry is going through disruption, and property owners have to lean toward this evolution.”
Resquared was founded in March 2020. Carlson had worked in customer experience leadership roles for Tampa-based SiteZeus, which uses artificial intelligence to help multi-unit brands and companies find new locations. Morris co-founded Spatial.ai, a Cincinnati firm that focuses on helping real estate firms utilize social media data. Its clients included SiteZeus, where Carlson and Morris met. “We all did a lot of work on the tenant side,” Carlson says, “and then we realized the landlord side didn’t really have any of those tools.”
Carlson joined Resquared in December — coming on board when it was accepted into the 2021 winter batch of startups backed by noted Silicon Valley venture fund Y Combinator. That included a $125,000 investment and access to Y Combinator entrepreneurs and investors. More recently, Resquared closed a seed investment round, also backed by Silicon Valley investors, for $1 million to $2 million. Being part of the Y Combinator community, says Carlson, “has made us think big. We want to be a $1 billion company — not just a mom and pop thing.”
Based on counsel from the Y Combinator, Resquared’s focus is on week-over-week revenue gains, to quickly be able to root out issues and stick with what works. An average week in the Y Combinator cohort, Carlson says, is 5% growth, while better-than-average is 7%. “We are doing about 12% week-over-week growth,” through late April, he says. He projects Resquared could finish 2021 with $2.5 to $3 million in revenue.
Carlson and Morris say one core challenge is being early to the industry’s digital transformation, in proving to clients there’s a more efficient way to find tenants. “The entire retail canvassing process is long, challenging and un-optimized,” Morris writes in a Resquared case study blog post. “But it’s the foundation of retail real estate for landlords and listing brokers.”
By way of example, Morris cites a client, a broker rep for a Northern Kentucky shopping center, who sought a new tenant to replace an independent sandwich joint, Jerry’s Subs. The site didn’t meet the criteria for most national chains, so the client, with Colliers International, focused on a regional or local tenant.
With the Resquared platform, the client started with a list of 25,000 possible retail and restaurant tenants within 30 miles of the shopping center. The software has multiple filtering tools — he eliminated the types of tenants he didn’t want, for instance, such as discount stores and beauty supply stores. He also used Resquared’s RE2 Score, a 1 to 100 measure of how popular the business is based on review data. He only reached out to prospects, Morris says, with a score of at least 80.
Resquared then offers clients an email, phone call and Facebook message platform. The Resquared system tracks progress, too, including logging in-person visits to potential tenants. “We’re not just a data company,” Carlson says. “We give (our clients) the tools to reach out digitally to prospective clients.”
Carlson says expanding to other areas, any sector where data can streamline client prospecting, is a natural fit. Until then, Resquared is focused on building its database and spreading the Resquared word to more brokers and landlords. The company has 14 employees, including several recent hires, and expects to bring on at least four more people, in sales and software development, by June.
Carlson says with all the new employees and clients, a priority is to avoid getting run over by the rapid expansion. “The big challenge now is to keep up with the growth,” he says, “while continuing to provide white glove service for every client.”