Subleasing’s Unanticipated Benefits

I’ve been helping a founder think through office options. His company is experiencing unexpected growth, and he’s bringing more people on board. He’s been remote since 2020 and wants to get a space for his expanded team to work in. We discussed coworking spaces, and I also shared the experience of my first office.

In the early days of my start-up, I needed something simple. Two desks and reliable internet. When I talked with seasoned founders, one of them suggested that I sublease from a larger company. He connected me with a founder who had excess office space, and we struck a deal. My new landlord had been an entrepreneur for many years and had built a company doing millions in annual revenue and operating in two states.

Over the course of a few years, my company grew from a few hundred thousand dollars in revenue to over a million. That sublease played an unexpectedly large role. First, I was able to observe the inner workings of my landlord’s company, which I learned a lot from. It was like being a fly on the wall watching a larger company manage growth. Instead of hearing about his management style, I saw it firsthand. Instead of asking him to describe qualities that make a top performer, I learned about them every day as I got to know his top performer. Second, my landlord became a mentor and advisor. He observed my journey and hurdles in real time. On many occasions, he pulled me aside to share how he’d handled a situation I was struggling with. And I’d often walk over to ask if he had fifteen minutes to chat. Those information sessions were valuable.

The knowledge I gained from my sublease was worth many times more than the rent I paid. I’m thankful for that experience.

With companies reducing staff and embracing working from home, I suspect there’s more underutilized office space than we’ve seen in a long time. Translation: lots of opportunity for small start-ups to sublease space from more mature companies. If you’re a founder looking for space and coworking spaces aren’t ideal, consider a sublease. You could end up getting much more than just office space out of the experience.