I had the opportunity to sit with William Bennett, CEO of Level Office and had a rich, enlivening chat with him. Here’s the extract.
What problem does Level Office solve and why is it important?
Level Office provides cool and affordable office space in great locations. We support 1-50 person firms, which are the growth engine of our economy and drive societal progress.
As you know most people don’t take action on their ideas. How did you come across this idea and what motivated to start?
I had a growing a business and set out to find an office only to find very expensive options, or space that was unprofessional. In asking around to other business owners, I found it was a very common complaint, and so I set off to help solve the issue.
Who’s your target audience or who do you help?
Level Office caters primarily to professional service firms that are in growth mode. Digital marketing, finance, non-profits, engineers, consultants, lawyers, accountants, and independent professionals are our primary customers, and we help them by offering great space at a value price with co-working desks at $199/month and fully furnished and technology rich offices as low as $399/month.
What are some hardships you had to overcome in the beginning and how did you overcome them?
Raising capital for an emerging concept was a big challenge – as was getting the Level Office name out to the small business community. Overcoming these challenges was largely about working harder and smarter, and convincing some great people to join the business.
How did you fund your business? How hard was it and how much time did it take to acquire those funds?
I funded the business out of pocket initially, and then brought investors in when we started acquiring buildings. Thankfully, our investors believed in the concept and team, and we are very grateful to our investors and focused on exceeding their high expectations.
Did you quit your job? If yes, how long after you started your business did you quit and what made you decide it was time to quit?
In founding Level Office, I really created a second job for myself.
List a few of your favorite books and blogs that you recommend others in your industry to read
I’m a big fan of Pioneering Portfolio Management by David Swenson, as it unveils the investor mindset and was key to me understanding how to be a fiduciary to investors, which helped me bring in progressively more capital. Blue Ocean Strategy is a great book in that it explores how to compete in new and different ways. I enjoy the Dumb Little Man blog, which has a variety of useful tips and serves as a reminder of how creative and interesting people can be.
What are some mistakes you made and how did you fix them?
I have hired people that were good in a similar business and gave them a shot at this business, but they weren’t able to get the job done. Ultimately, I fired them and paid more attention to the hiring nuances associated with the differences in our business, rather than the similarities.
What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give our aspiring entrepreneur readers?
Always have a plan B….and Plan C……and adapt with your customers until you serve them well enough to earn their referrals.