Lane has made major inroads in the commercial real estate industry since launching its workplace experience platform in 2014. Millions of dollars in new funding will help it grow beyond the 250 million square feet of building space it currently services.
Lane’s enterprise software integrates building systems into a single, centralized digital platform. It uses data to drive insights and streamline aspects of day-to-day office life for tenants, property managers and visitors.
“It connects into everything in your office environment and makes it accessible and easy to use,” CEO Clinton Robinson told RENX.
Robinson created his first company at age 15 and continued to use technology to create solutions in the media, retail and health-care industries. He started Lane with chief product officer Kofi Gyekye, who previously co-founded Little Room Inc., a tech company specializing in digital, mobile and enterprise solutions.
Tools provided by Lane deal with such things as: notices and events; interactive amenities; maintenance requests; access controls; parking and transit; perks and retail; analytics; content centres; survey generators; amenities workflow engines; configurable payment engines; and user management.
Lane charges customers a yearly subscription fee, which Robinson said is very cost-effective.
“It’s around a few pennies per square foot per year and the return you get on this product is four to five times that.”
Lane’s evolution and funding sources
Toronto-based Lane was one of 10 property technology companies to take part in the inaugural Colliers Proptech Accelerator Powered by Techstars program in 2018.
The program is designed to help early-stage property technology companies refine business plans and gain a global real estate perspective through more than 150 mentors from Colliers, Techstars and the broader real estate, technology and investment industries.
“When we started that program we were in maybe 12 million square feet in Canada,” said Robinson. “Since then, we’ve expanded to over 250 million square feet in 15 major cities across the U.S. and Canada.”
It raised another $10 million this year in a funding round led by Round13 Capital, with further participation from Alate and Panache.
The capital raise was being completed in March when governments began instituting physical and economic lockdowns to try to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“Our investors were unfazed,” said Robinson. “They saw that this was probably going to create a huge rise in demand for our product and, if there was a slowdown, it would only be temporary.”
Lane moved into new office space at 33 Yonge Street at the beginning of February, and then employees started working from home six weeks later due to COVID-19. Robinson hopes employees will start returning to the almost 8,000-square-foot space in a few weeks.
The new funding will be used to accelerate Lane’s global expansion, double its 40-person team by the end of 2020, and deepen its focus on research, development and delivering a strong user experience.
Clients and partners
The company launched its platform throughout Brookfield’s commercial portfolio in the United States over the past six months and is now deepening that partnership through an international rollout.
“We started with a Brookfield building back in 2014 and now we’re in over 80 or 90 Brookfield buildings,” said Robinson.
Lane’s expansion is also being supported through a partnership with Convene, which provides flexible-term office spaces and co-working locations. Lane is providing its tech platform so Convene amenities can be shared across multiple locations.
“Convene is a great partner and a strategic investor as well,” said Robinson. “As things get going again, we’ll be expanding out to the Convene locations across the U.S.”
Lane is also taking on new clients in Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United Arab Emirates. While clients can be trained on the platform virtually, Robinson said offices may also be opened in these new countries in the future.
COVID-19 accentuates need for Lane
In the wake of COVID-19, Robinson believes there will be an even greater demand for a technology solution that can “help property owners and operators orchestrate a safe and secure return to work, effectively manage building communications and operations, and make the workplace a seamless and engaging place to be.”
To ensure physical distancing, Lane enables employees to plan staggered days in the office and book specific arrival times using a centralized calendar.
The platform enables contactless elevator and building access control using QR codes that can be scanned from more than two metres away.
Lane can also help retailers manage the flow of shoppers into their stores by allowing users to book specific time windows.
“They need an operating system in their building that helps people communicate and connect and use services and amenities in a digital, contactless way,” said Robinson.
“COVID’s just accelerating the timeline that a lot of our potential clients have for rolling out something like this.”
Lane and its competitors
“Fundamentally, I think we’re different in the way our product looks and feels, and the amount of adoption and engagement we have speaks to that,” he said.
“A lot of our competitors are focusing just on tenant engagement. I think tenant engagement is very important, but ultimately we’re aiming to create a product for the end user, the employee who goes to work every day.
“Everything we do is focused on them, to give them the best possible experience.”