With UT E-Week kicking off today, Nick Spiller had the amazing opportunity to interview one of this year’s biggest sponsors, Joshua McClure, CEO and co-founder of Real Massive. Real Massive is a company that allows people to search for commercial real estate in a variety of different markets. McClure offered some great information about his company and advice on entrepreneurship in general. Check out the interview below!
Nick Spiller: What is Real Massive?
Joshua McClure: Real Massive, #1 is really big. We have I think 4.1 billion square feet coverage in about 28 different markets across the country and we’re spreading out really quickly. We’ll be in about 40 markets soon. We’re on our way to the end of the year to be around 5 billion square feet. There’s nobody else in the country that has data coverage on the Internet. We truly are becoming, if not already become the Zillow of office space. We’re attracting a lot of national attention and even global attention from global brokerages and asset managers.
NS: So you’re a free resource for people looking for commercial properties?
JM: Yes, we’re a free resource for people looking to lease office space or industrial, retail, etc. or even looking availability information on a commercial building to purchase.
NS: You offer a lot of data for free, why do you do that?
JM: So really our goal as a company is to build trust and we build trust one step at a time and the first step in that mantra is “give first.” It’s really every entrepreneur’s mantra to do the same thing because you have to offer value to someone in order for them to trust you enough to pay you. And so whether that’s with a beta test or asking somebody to give you advice on a product that you’re building; they’re giving you that. So asking them for that, you really have to be willing to give them something as well. And what that means is that you have to believe in your product and what you’re doing and understand that building value, creating value for these people, is what they want and that’s what everybody wants—additional value in their life.
NS: You decided the celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit during UT Entrepreneurship Week. Why did you do that?
JM: I really feel like giving back to the entrepreneurial community is really important. I really believe UT stands for, especially in the entrepreneurial sense, if you look at the entire university as a whole it says “what starts here.” And what starts here is startup and is entrepreneurial endeavor in the global ideation. In the very beginning “what starts here changes the world” is not just what changes Austin or what changes Texas or the United states, it’s the world. I taught a class at UT for a while and when I first saw that up in stone, I thought, “wow this place is amazing.” I went to the Air Force Academy so I didn’t get the change to really plug into that entrepreneurial program that people have the chance here to do and we want to sponsor it in every way we can.
NS: What are some daily rituals or habits that help keep you at peak performance?
JM: I almost started a molecular nutrition company for raising your IQ and raising your energy level and making you better at what you do. Instead, I started Real Massive. Real Massive really is about creating value and so my advice would be go back to creating value. What is a problem you can solve that will create value on a daily basis for the most amount of people. There’s actually a philosophy around it called utilitarianism, John Stewart Mill actually wrote about it. It really has come back with the open data movement and the open source movement, both of those are really philosophically related to the ancient philosophies of John Stewart Mill.
NS: You have a background in military intelligence, so how are you applying that experience to Real Massive and making that transition to CEO?
JM: Well the background that I have is really kind of in the business management and project management side of intelligence, with systems thinking of how commercial real estate works which is a 12 trillion dollar asset class. And nobody really knows about what’s happening with that asset class right now. There’s no central repository for that data. So I think what this repository of data needs is expert curation. We need data scientists; we need extremely dedicated and creative entrepreneurs who look at this as a problem that needs to be solved. And there are so many aspects of it that need to be solved from the permitting process all the way to the building valuation process.
NS: So you’re the CIA for commercial properties?
JM: I wouldn’t compare us to the CIA in any regard whatsoever; let’s make it more like the New York Stock Exchange for commercial properties. It’s really more of a marketplace where we collect data and publish it, and because we publish it people know it’s trusted information and that becomes the fundamental underlying data foundation for everything else in the industry.
NS: Let’s think back to when you were in college. If you wanted to start a business, what would you tell yourself knowing what you know today?
JM: Start. Like Nike, “just do it.” There are so many reasons not to do it. It’s a very risky thing to put yourself on the line and put yourself in front of people and say “hey, here’s my idea.” Well be prepared for 9 out of your 10 ideas to be crap. And so one of those ideas is going to be the idea that really resonates with people, it’s fairly easy to implement and yet it provides a lot of value to people. That’s that no-brainer idea where people go, “Why didn’t I think of that? That was pretty easy.” Well no one really knows about the 9 ideas up to that point where you fell flat on your face, so it’s about just doing it and testing it with people and seeing if the idea resonates.
NS: How did Real Massive get its name?
JM: Real Massive got its name when we realized how much this industry needed us, so the value we can create is absolutely, insanely big. People spend almost all of their waking lives at work in the work place and this is the data of the workplace, where humanity spends its time. And the implication for both energy and transportation as well as how people work, for instance how they get to work and what they do while they’re there really is just giant, it’s real massive. I think that we can really change the world with this business.
NS: What’s the size of the SR class you mentioned earlier?
JM: Just institutional, non-parking lot, not even looking at land, is 12 trillion dollars. If you get other pieces of commercial real estate and pile it all in, it’s about 17 trillion. So the only thing that compares is actually the value of the business that are in that space. The United States’ equities are worth about 18 trillion the last time I checked, so the space where they go to work is worth about 17 trillion right? So it’s absolutely amazing that no one has organized this valuable of a data set.