KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A start-up company is changing the kind of flexible office space that companies use, and Kansas City is one of the first markets where it’s expanding.
Loloft creates co-working spaces in a way that start-ups often need but that isn’t offered by existing co-working companies.
“The whole company was really created out of frustration,” said Loloft CEO Brendan Howell.
Howell said he was trying to make masks during the COVID-19 pandemic but quickly realized that the only industrial real estate options were much too large for what he needed.
“We needed 5,000 square feet for a year but the best we could find was $20,000 for five years,” Howell said.
Eventually, he built his own micro-industrial space inside a much larger facility and realized other small businesses wanted to use the space as well.
“For me, it was like a lightbulb moment,” Howell said. “Why don’t we combine the concept of office working with warehousing?”
He said most small businesses that make or ship products, or that depend on large shipments start in the founder’s home, graduate to a storage unit but then have to make a big leap from that intermediary phase to long term commitments on what is often expensive overhead.
Loloft, Howell said, fills the gap, allowing businesses to package, receive goods, and store product on relatively flexible terms and with the ability to also use traditional office space.
Lauren Holmes worked in a co-working space in New Jersey for two years before the pandemic and generally liked it.
“It was nice to be able to go in an interact with different people in different areas,” Holmes said. “I kind of missed not having my own desk for different reasons but overall it was pretty good.”
She said her pharmaceutical company didn’t need space for shipping or receiving.
“I think it would definitely help especially for smaller companies that maybe don’t want to buy large office spaces,” Holmes said.
More e-commerce involving small retailers is driving up the need for that kind of flexible space while high interest rates make it more challenging for small businesses to buy their own storefronts and make building owners eager to earn some kind of income from what might otherwise be vacant space.
“It’s kind of like the perfect storm for us really,” Howell said. “There’s demand there and then there’s access to real estate.”
He said his appreciation for the old buildings that can be repurposed in Kansas City, and the start-up ecosystem that’s growing here makes it a good place to expand.
They’re already opening spaces in bigger cities like Miami, Dallas and Phoenix.
Loloft plans to announce their Kansas City location in the next few weeks with an expected opening date in early 2024.