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Featured on Jan 04, 2012

Michael Mandel

"Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it."


I'm a commercial real estate broker turned entrepreneur and a proud Babson College (e-tower) grad. I founded CompStak with Vadim, because commercial real estate information should be available and transparent, and because most commercial real estate technology is from the Flinstones era.

CompStak is a marketplace for commercial real estate lease deal information. This is information you can use to find out how much the tenant one floor above you pays in rent (and when their lease is up), which neighborhoods offer the best deals, where your competitors are moving, and which industries are growing and shrinking. We believe that transparency in information leads to fair and efficient deal making, and that's good for everyone.

  • Title: co-founder + CEO, CompStak
  • Age: 29
  • Location: Upper West Side
  • Contact: @compstak

Looking back at the year, what were some of the more memorable challenges that you ran into while starting CompStak back in April?

The biggest challenge I've faced at CompStak dates back before we really got started in April. Like many aspiring tech entrepreneurs, I spent months searching for a CTO and co-founder that really believed in the product and the company.  I wanted a developer who would be a true partner and was in it for the long haul.  I met Vadim at an ERoundtable event, and the rest is history.

Since then, our biggest hurdle has been creating a product that is intuitive and beautiful, while collecting and presenting a vast quantity of information.  Most real estate technology is antiquated and clumsy. It's our mission to be the opposite of the status quo.

What do you do when you’re not working?  What is a relaxing day to you?

I love chocolate chip cookies, brunch and my wife (not necessarily in that order).  A day that involves one or all of these things is pretty awesome in my book.  In the summer, a day at the beach with a good book and some Jimmy Buffett is just about the best thing ever. Otherwise, I spend a lot of weekends driving to Boston or Philly to see family and go to children's birthday parties (being the youngest of 5 children results in lots of nieces and nephews).

Your views of the real estate market have been featured in Crain’s New York Business, The Commercial Observer, Real Estate Weekly, and many other publications.  How is 2012 looking for New York City? What are your thoughts on the raise of co-working spaces for tech startups?

When all the stats get tallied, 2011 may surpass the record number of square feet of office space transacted in NYC.  With the instability in the national economy combined with the turmoil in European countries, I think it will be tough for 2012 to compete.  The segment of NYC real estate that I'm most interested in, is office space for tech startups.  Tech startup real estate has been one of the strongest drivers of NYC office space in the past year, and I think it will continue to make a big impact in 2012.  Availability of office space in Midtown South (where most tech startups are located - roughly between Canal and 34th Street) is lower than Downtown and Midtown, and is the lowest it's been in three years. Finding cool creative loft space for startups is really tough right now, and the smaller the space you need, the harder it is to come by.

I think the increase in co-working space in NYC has been terrific for the startup community.  I was a founding member of the e-tower, a live-in business incubator at Babson College, and experienced first hand how much value there is for an entrepreneur living and working with other entrepreneurs. Environments like this are invigorating, and the enthusiasm of everyone around you is contagious.  Plus, you never know who you'll meet or be introduced to who can help you with your business.  Combine the community itself with the classes and mentors that places like General Assembly and WeWork provide and you've got a platform that will really spur innovation in NYC. I think that established businesses in NYC could really stand to learn from the co-working culture.