During a time when real estate was taking a beating in 08 and 09
It's not a startup that you've most likely heard of.
More than likely it was overshadowed by WeWork for many years until the latter's collapse years ago when it tried to IPO onto the public market with dodgy accounting numbers.
A competitor to WeWork, Convene focuses on designing premium places to not only work but also to host events. Sounds similar right?
Let's dig a bit more into the history and background of the startup.
How Convene started
Founded by Christopher J. Kelly and Ryan Simonetti in 2009, they saw an opportunity in the flexible workspace and conferencing business. They recognized that office buildings were no longer there to support a typical workforce but one that was evolving and collaborative. This change in working practices needed a new innovation in corporate real estate.
Signing long leases for buildings no longer made sense and companies were looking to innovate their way of working. They believed that buildings needed to be consumed on-demand with pricing models that were flexible to meet the companies of today.
Although Convene is a competitor of WeWork, they focused on a specific niche in their market. The key stakeholder has always been Class A building (the newest and modern buildings) owners and they focus on a win-win partnership with each new contract.
So why did they start during a recession?
In a recent April webinar in 2020, Chris himself shared insights about why he founded his own business in a recession (see video below).
Although many might deem the chaos and uncertainty of a recession a glooming time to start a business, Chris found it as an opportunity to explore business opportunities. He mentions that the recession meant all the incumbents had their guard down and so they pounced on the opportunity in the market.
He also talks about the fact that entrepreneurs should use recessions as a time to launch businesses. After all, similar to Convene, Uber and Airbnb also launched during the last recession. With his partner, he found an opportunity where he discovered that big corporations were trying to move real estate off their balance sheets during this time. This kickstarted their initial idea and has since grown into Convene.
Convene has since raised their Series D round and looking past the pandemic
Not only do they provide spaces but also help handle all IT/AV issues for events. Convene has since raised over $260 million dollars and is headquartered in New York.
Although they had to let go 20% of their workforce in 2020, they're looking to get back into action in 2021.
The pandemic has been hard on many businesses, especially the real estate market so there is no doubt surviving the recent economic turmoil will push the business onwards beyond 2021.