Get the inspiration you need to revamp your empty office space.
When most people are working from home during (and perhaps after) the pandemic, what can you do with empty offices? At a time when the commercial real estate industry is struggling worldwide, more and more PropTech companies are repurposing vacant office spaces and transforming them for other uses.
Neighbor was founded in 2017, with a goal to repurpose under-utilized or vacant space— whether it be a person’s basement or the empty floor of an office building—and turn it into storage, allowing people to have a more convenient and accessible alternative to store their personal belongings. Neighbor also partners with commercial realtors to turn their under-utilized retail, multifamily or office space into self-storage space.
During the COVID pandemic, Neighbor’s business has accelerated because of increased demand. In March this year, Neighbor announced that it had raised US$53 million in a Series B round of funding. In the United States, where the Utah-based company operates, people have been spending more time organizing and cleaning out their homes Marie Kondo-style (minimalist style) and, as a result, are requiring more storage space.
Montreal and Miami-based Silofit turns small, empty office spaces into high-end, private micro-gyms. Fitness trainers and their clients and individual gym-goers can rent the gyms by the hour. The company currently has 20 gyms across Canada, and more than 12,000 users and 3,000 trainers are active on the Silofit app. It aims to open another 50 locations across the United States in the next year and a half, beginning with cities like Miami, Chicago and Boston.
Just like Neighbor, Silofit found its business blooming during the pandemic. It raised US$10.25 million in Series A funding in July this year. Prior to the pandemic, utilization of Silofit’s spaces was about 80 percent trainers and 20 percent individual users. That shifted to a 50/50 split during the pandemic, as more people wanted their own private, sanitary space to work out alone.
During the pandemic, New York-based education technology (EdTech) startup SchoolHouse filled the void that shutdown schools left. It raised US$8.1 million in funding in April this year. The company uses empty commercial space for micro-schools and learning pods. Families who sign up for SchoolHouse are matched with a teacher. These micro-classrooms operate just like normal ones, except that the average class sizes are much smaller with only 6 to 10 students per class.
CEO of SchoolHouse, Brian Tobal, wanted to bring forward the idea of a teacher-centered education to the mainstream, and “make the teacher the centerpiece” of a classroom. With this, teachers can tailor existing curriculums to the needs of individual students.
Flexibility and adaptability are what drive startup companies to success during the pandemic. PropTech companies are not an exception.
Header image courtesy of Unsplash