I typically write here about tools to help entrepreneurs better promote, market, communicate and sell in their businesses. But as the economic slowdown creeps up on many businesses, it is worth exploring a web tool that lets entrepreneurs find flexible office space inexpensively.
In keeping with the theme of my posts, the site also uses social tools to promote and improve the product. AlwaysWater, a web solutions agency in Hoboken, NJ, had such a need to find space, and out of their need grew a service they're offering to help others do the same.
Their new site, SuiteMatch.com is currently operating in NY, Chicago and San Francisco. It lets companies quickly and easily offer extra space for sublet. A clean interface lets those with space pick a neighborhood and address, describe their space and amenities, and upload photos. Posting is currently free, but SuiteMatch will charge a small fee in the near future.
Soloists, remote workers, or small groups can search for offerings based on number of desks, costs, square feet, and a list of amenities. They can peruse the pictures and descriptions of the space, and a map on the page clearly displays the location of the building, as well as coffee, food, bars and gyms in the neighborhood.
At the time of writing, a space for two in San Francisco's Union Square was going for $500 a month; a furnished space for two near NYC's Bryant Park was listed for $1650; and a small share for one in Chicago's Wicker Park would cost you $366.
If a space seems appealing, the potential renter can connect with an offering firm via SuiteMatch's site. If a customer finds a posting misleading, they can flag the listing and SuiteMatch will investigate, but they don't do proactive discussion with offering firms regarding the legality of the sublets.
John Vitelli and Barry Mazza , the partners in AlwaysWater, said they tried to find space on Craig's list initially. "Everything is on Craig's List," said Vitelli, but that's also a problem because "everything is on the list. It is too dense. SuiteMatch is for a small niche of people, and it just does one thing very well."
When asked about expansion plans, Mazza said that instead of using their own knowledge to plan the next city to expand into, they're asking their audience for feedback online. SuiteMatch is on Twitterand Facebook. Both accounts are reasonably new, but the Twitter account promotes new spaces as they become available – a good way to 'watch' for space without visiting the site.
Additionally, they're offering their customers a way to engage in conversation and offer feedback about their service. After considering building their own solution, they decided that GetSatisfaction was a quick way to add this functionally to their business. Site visitors can click on a "feedback" tab and add comments, or add to the discussion about which cities they'd like to see next.
"SuiteMatch is for simple connections between people who need space and people who have it," said Vitelli.