It’s a time of intense competition for built environment companies and their ilk. For tech providers in the industry, the sector’s explosive growth has led to plenty of battles between competing firms, some of which play out in the market while others take place in the courtroom. But while some true-competitor dyads, like CoStar and Xceligent, ended with a bang, others, particularly where value propositions don’t completely overlap, have taken a more collaborative approach. Hello Alfred recently acquired Bixby, the tenant experience platform, allowing a more comprehensive amenity offering. Industrious recently partnered with the upscale gym chain Equinox. And Colliers recently announced a new class of companies in its accelerator program.
Another partnership was just announced as well, this time between Lane, the tenant experience platform, and fitness-focused amenity provider hOM. “We like to partner with the best in class providers and work with them,” said Lane’s CEO Clint Robinson. “We see a lot of synergy in these kinds of partnerships, like hOM, where it adds value to everyone. It adds value to our clients, adds value to hOM and adds value to us.”
Adding value is, after all, what partnerships in tech come down to. For Lane, the decision to partner with hOM, which focuses on offering fitness classes and wellness solutions to buildings that may not have spaces dedicated to yoga, spinning, meditation, and other activities, came down to specialization. Clint added, “Long term, Lane is focusing on providing the technology to power workplace experience. And this is a huge undertaking that requires a lot of focus. And to provide great offerings like hOM does require a lot of focus, and on their side it’s a huge undertaking. So let’s let hOM focus on what they are amazing at, so we can focus on providing technology which is what we are amazing at.”
For hOM, it’s a similar story. CEO and Co-Founder Francesca Loftus explained that in their view, combining a physical tenant experience with the digital is a crucial element, particularly as numerous human interactions become more and more moderated by technology. “With hOM and Lane working together, you add a layer that no other platform has. That is boots on the ground customer service, community building, seamless vendor management and direct interface with the tenants and the property staff. This increases both stickiness on the Lane platform and usage/engagement in hOM’s products and services. We also can innovate and adjust strategy quickly because we have a direct feedback loop from the end customers in the building; the tenant.”
Indeed, the partnership seems to be marked by a solid division of physical and digital components. In addition to the digital platform run by Lane, hOM handles in-person events such as “hOMcomings” as well as joint collateral throughout the building. On the digital side, part of the partnership is forward-looking. “hOM maintains the marketplace of vendors, and hOM’s backend platform orients those vendors in the property so that they can pop-up services independent of the landlord’s onsite staff. The integrated data platform for landlords quantifies the program’s success and now, with hundreds of properties between Lane and hOM, this partnership opens up greater opportunity for predicting successful amenities, and benchmarking community engagement,” Francesca said.
While some people always embrace office-based amenities more than others, this partnership seems set to have a positive impact on tenant satisfaction. Perhaps the most important lesson lies in Lane and hOM recognizing that a partnership would be more effective than trying to branch out and do everything themselves. Although Clint explained that Lane previously spun off an amenity service, the company clearly recognizes attempting to do everything themselves would result in a distraction from their core competency.
This is an important observation for more than just tenant experience platforms and amenity providers. Teams should be able to make the judgment call of knowing when their efforts would be better served by outsourcing or a partnership, regardless of their niche. For brokers, perhaps that’s avoiding diminishing returns on design; for investors, perhaps it’s outsourcing leasing. The built environment industry brings in a lot of professionals with strong belief in their own abilities. That’s great, until it becomes an obstacle.