San Francisco Alumni Club Monthly Spotlight: SpaceJam
The San Francisco Alumni Club’s spotlight on Babson businesses continues. Check back and read about more Babson startups! The following post is from Christa Ferguson M’15.
Who decides what retail stores will rent space in strip malls near you? If Benji Cohen has anything to do with it – YOU do! Learn how www.spacejamdata.com will change the way commercial space is allocated by using crowd sourcing.
Founder: Benji Cohen (21), Class of 2016
Industry: Real Estate Tech
What do you sell: Data. We allow consumers to vote for what stores they want in their neighborhood. We sell a consumer data report for property owners to understand more about which stores they should target for their space.
What is your value proposition?: We reduce inefficiencies involved in the retail leasing process by crowdsourcing local consumer preferences.
Company Headquarters: New York City (my brothers apartment in the flatiron district.
Where did your company name come from? I called it SpaceJam because we help real estate professionals “jam” stores in to “spaces” using our crowdsourcing technology. I also love the movie.
Number of Employees: 3
Year Founded: 2015
Where did you meet your partners and tell us the story of how and when you decided to work together? I met my current CTO in Shanghai while I was studying abroad on the CIEE program. I met my current COO at Babson. He graduated the year before me. We all have different skillsets, but we all have that New York City/ Babson type of hustle.
What was your first job: I met my cofounder, Henry Medine, at Babson. He graduated in 2015, and we ran the NYC half marathon together last March. I met SpaceJam’s CTO in Shanghai. We were both studying abroad at ECNU on a CIEE program. All of us have different skill-sets, but we all have that New York City/ Babson type of hustle.
Source of startup capital: Angel investor (relative)
Why did you start this business: Over winter intersession I worked at a shopping center my family owns in St. Louis, Missouri. During this time, I realized that local shoppers knew a lot more about the property than we did as owners. So I began asking the consumers what stores they wanted at the center, instead of traditionally relying on brokers to decide our store selection. That next semester I moved to SF for the Babson tech program, where I turned the idea in to a business allowing for consumers voices to be heard throughout the U.S.
Exit Strategy: The long-term goal for Space Jam is to democratize real estate.
If you are hiring, what skills are you seeking and where should Babson Students/Alums Apply: We are currently seeking more data scientists and data engineers. If you are a data scientist/engineer who is passionate about disrupting an industry, call me. My number is 917-576-5725. My email is email@example.com
Toughest part about being an entrepreneur: The toughest part about being an Entrepreneur is that in order to succeed you need to complete realistic short term tasks in order to build the long term vision. There is no blueprint to tell you exactly how to be successful. I feel that it is hard to meticulously focus on what you are currently working on without neglecting your long term vision. It is too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work mentality. The challenge is to consistently work mindfully towards a long term dream, rather than letting the world and its many distractions slow you down.
Key Business goals yet to achieve: An immediate business goal will be to launch our service on 20 properties. We currently have sold our product to 8 different properties Nationally. I would love to see that number hit 20 by the end of 2015.
5-year plan: In 5 years SpaceJam will be a full-blown real estate data company that all property owners will use to help lease their real estate faster. In five years we hope that all American consumers will get extremely excited when they see a SpaceJam sign.
Whom do you most admire and why: I most admire my father , who taught me how to be an Entrepreneur.
Company you most admire and why: Currently my favorite company is Fundrise . Fundrise is the number one ( and first ever) real estate crowdsourcing company in the world. They allow anyone in the country to have access to invest in real estate through their platform.
What do you do for fun: For fun- I am a stand up comedian. I love to make people laugh.
Favorite place to eat: Sushi Seki- Japanese restaurant in New York City.
What is the last book you read: The last book I read – “Cities of a small Planet” and was a huge influence on the development of SpaceJam. Richard Rogers’s architectural philosophy has changed the way I think and has changed the Urban Landscape of cities all over the world.
Most influential person at Babson: Jim Poss is my most influential person at Babson. He taught me entrepreneurship in the SF program and is the best example of how Babson professors teach you about their own experiences. (inventor of big belly solar).