Winning the TGSW Global Showcase? For Leasecake, It’s a Piece of Cake

Where are they now? 2017 TGSW Global Showcase winner Leasecake is thriving — and fixing your commercial real estate woes.

Just one year ago, before Techstars Global Startup Weekend 2017 kicked off, Leasecake existed only as a small ingredient of an idea in Taj Adhav’s mind for some time. He and his friend Jim Bankston chatted, back in 2015, about the difficulties of managing commercial property leases, and they agreed that someone should solve these problems with technology.

Two years later, they were about to be the ones to do just that — and to win the 2017 TGSW Global Showcase.

Every Techstars Startup Weekend follows the same pattern: participants pitch their ideas on Friday night, and then everyone volunteers to work on the most popular ideas. In just 54 hours (spread over three days), teams experience the highs, lows, fun, and pressure that make up life at a startup: learning from local mentors, finding customers, building the product, and finally presenting their brand new companies to a panel of local startup leaders, who select the weekend’s winner. During TGSW, the stakes are even higher, because local winners go on to compete at regional and global levels, until the last startup standing walks away with first place: amazing resources to build their new company, plus huge validation of their idea.

Taj showed up at TGSW Orlando with no intention of pitching — he planned on offering his expertise in tech and business to the Florida startup community. But then out of the 80 or so people attending, he watched one and then another get up and pitch their ideas. A total of 39 people pitched that night — nearly half of the attendees — and, watching them, Taj got fired up. “Maybe I should pitch this idea and see if it makes any sense,” he thought.

He pitched, and 7 people joined his team. For the first time, and as the top vote-getter that Friday night, Taj realized that this years-old idea might just be a winner.

Of course, he was right.

The next few weeks were a whirlwind. Leasecake won TGSW Orlando shortly before Thanksgiving, and they learned on the next Monday that they were advancing to Regionals. A week after Thanksgiving, they were selected as the regional winner of the Americas. And finally, they won the whole thing: placing first in the world in the 2017 TGSW Global Showcase.

Like many other Techstars Startup Weekend participants, Taj knew something about entrepreneurship coming in. His parents were entrepreneurs who moved from India to Canada with just six dollars in their pockets and started a laser component company, which they later moved to Florida. Taj had worked as an early employee at a startup which was bought by Google. But he hadn’t yet founded his own company.

For Taj, TGSW was all about inspiration. Inspiration to see if anyone else thought his idea for Leasecake was worth pursuing, absolutely — but more than that, inspiration to solve a real problem and help people make their lives better. “I didn’t want to just be using technology for its own sake,” Taj says. “For me, it was about giving people the power of information to improve their businesses for both sides of the lease — taking information that used to sit on a piece of paper in a drawer, or a corkboard in an office, or even a laptop, and putting it in people’s hands in real-time through a cloud-based solution.”

Leasecake simplifies commercial real estate lease management. Commercial leases can be complex, and a landlord with many properties, or a multi-store tenant with many locations, often exist in what Leasecake cofounder Jim Bankston calls “spreadsheet hell,” trying to keep track of dates and dollars. “Businesses can thrive or die based on a key date or lease term,” Taj says. Landlords can miss out on rent increases or the chance to get new tenants if they miss a date, and tenants can lose a space if they miss the notice period for a renewal option.

There are enterprise solutions out there for big companies, but Taj and Jim saw a market for another kind of product. “Small businesses need a solution,” Taj says. “Leasecake is that solution.”

Today, a year after TGSW, Leasecake has over 2 million square feet in its system, from hundreds of leases. They have a team of nine employees. They have passionate customers. “Leasecake is better when shared, and now it’s about scaling,” Taj says.

Just last week, Taj was at Techstars FounderCon, where he fulfilled a year-long ambition: to meet and thank Techstars co-founder David Cohen. “I was blown away,” Taj says. “FounderCon was amazing. But the most meaningful moment for me was the conversation with David Cohen. He asked me: ‘What can we do better?’ To me, that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about. Doing better. Helping people. Techstars keeps inspiring me to do more, faster.”

***

15,000 entrepreneurs at 200+ locations around the globe believe they can build a startup in a weekend. Come to Techstars Global Startup Weekend, November 2–4, 9–11, and 16–18, 2018. Challenge yourself. Join us.