Finding spaces for your business can be a tough thing in Vancouver. Price is always something people are weary of and a lot of the times it seems nearly impossible to find a spot. Recent GrowLab cohort graduates, Bill MacEwen and the rest of the Spacelist team are simplifying that process by listing available office, retail and warehouse spaces in the city of Vancouver and the rest of Canada.
1. Who are you? Tell us about your business/core idea and what inspired you to create it.
I’ve always been a real estate guy. I started a coworking space here in Gastown back in 2005 and went on to manage office/retail buildings in the CBD. I’ve always been frustrated with how difficult it is to find space and thought that we could dramatically improve the experience using the web.
2. What has led to Spacelist’s hyper fast adoption rates and what does the competitive landscape look like for you?
We worked closely with brokers and landlords for the first year to understand how they market listings and to integrate ourselves in that process. People have been looking for a solution like this for quite a while, so now that it’s here it makes sense that it would get fast adoption. The folks at Growlab deserve a lot of credit for pushing us to expand across Canada.
As far as competition is concerned, there are some industry facing tools but our focus has been on improving the experience for the end user, the person who is going to pay the rent. So our strategy is unique in that way.
3. How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of Spacelist?
It’s a huge factor. The startup scene here has really evolved over the last few years. Launch Academy and Growlab are providing a fantastic path for people to move from idea to funded startup. Starting a company is not easy… having a supportive community of people who understand what you’re going through is incredibly valuable.
4. What kind of challenges has your team had to face and how have you mitigated them?
The biggest challenges are the ones we create for ourselves. We have set very ambitious goals and sometimes they can be scary. . . you might roll into the office one day and think, how is that possible?
Our best response is focus. We cut big hairy goals up into sizable chunks, and measure our progress daily. Everyone on the team knows where we are headed and what milestones we need to reach to make it happen. When you finally get there, it’s an amazing feeling when you look back at where you started.
5. What core problem are you specifically solving for Vancouverites?
We help people find a great space for their business. I just did a search and we have over 1,000 office, retail and warehouse spaces in the city of Vancouver. That’s a lot of options, and far more than you’ll find on any other website. We are working to make floor plans, photos and all sorts of other data much more accessible so people can make better decisions more quickly.
6. What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
There are so many people I look up to. I’d have to say my Dad. My father has the most incredible work ethic of anyone I have ever met. But more importantly he’s got this fantastic focus on what matters. He filters out noise and hype and does great work that he and the people that work with him can be proud of. I talk to my Dad about business almost every day, and he’s always got great advice.
7. What Vancouver celebrity would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
The anti-celebrity. The guy who does amazing work in his garage for his own benefit, and no one else needs to know. The people who do the best work are not interested in being famous. . . they’re interested making things that change the world.
8. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
It’s really really hard and it’s going to suck for the first little while. But if you surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, and you listen to them, being an entrepreneur quickly becomes the best job in the world.
*End of interview*
Spacelist is growing quite quickly and they have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. GrowLab always produces some amazing companies coming out of their program and it’s always a pleasure getting to meet great entrepreneurs like Bill who are making Vancouver a better place.
*Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to explain why you’re a fit*