The FORT Podcast: Nathan Lenahan – A story of working at WeWork until original IPO, His new HVAC roll-up strategy with game-changing tech component

Entrepreneur, Nathan Lenahan, has held many titles such as COO of Smart City Apartment Locating and VP & GM of Texas and the Mountain West Regions for WeWork. Nathan is currently working on a roll-up of home service businesses beginning with HVAC. Before WeWork Nathan started a property management company that he grew quickly and eventually sold to a private equity-backed real estate company. Nathan also served proudly in the Army for nearly 14 years across active duty and national guard deploying for two years to Iraq.

On this episode, Nathan gives incredible insight on working at WeWork from 2015 until IPO, why WeWork is a company that will matter moving forward, and what the army taught Nathan about leadership. They also discuss his new HVAC roll-up strategy and Nathan’s tech idea behind it. Enjoy!

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(02:25) – Nathan’s Background and Career with WeWork

(06:13) – Leadership Lessons Learned in the Military

(09:31) – Nathan’s Property Management Business

(11:24) – How was your business valued and how did the transaction happen?

(13:28) – Nathan’s Experience at WeWork 

(19:04) – How do you build a culture in a hyper-growth company like WeWork where new people are coming aboard every day?

(23:11) – How did you know where you should be opening locations and how quickly you needed to open?

(26:50) – Was Softbank already involved when you joined and what happens when you get such a massive influx of capital?

(33:55) – What does a great location look like for a co-working space?

(37:23) – Did it matter at all how close you were to the next WeWork?

(38:35) – Was there a goal for consistency in terms of the look and feel of each location?

(39:40) – What did you learn about community building between tenants?

(41:27) – Was there an inflection point with the circus around the media and the coming IPO where things felt ‘different’?

(44:33) – What mattered most to the landlords you worked with?

(48:29) – Was this a real estate company or a tech company?

(49:54) – Thoughts on Adam Neumann

(53:03) – The WeWork IPO

(55:38) – How do you keep your team motivated when there’s so much noise about your company going on in the media?

(57:59) – What’s the state of WeWork today?

(1:00:10) – Nathan’s jump into sweat: HVAC Roll-ups

(1:08:36) – Thoughts on the Blue-Collar Industry in Regards to Labor

(1:14:00) – How are you building the tech side of your business?

(1:16:13) – The Potential for Augmented Reality in the Trades

(1:19:54) – How can people get in touch with you?


Episode Summary

In a compelling dialogue with Chris Powers, Nathan Lenahan, esteemed for his substantial insights into technology’s impact on real estate, unraveled a wealth of knowledge, enriching the podcast’s audience with a profound understanding of technological integration in the real estate sector. The conversation’s inception was marked by Lenahan’s exploration into the transformative role of digital solutions in augmenting operational efficiency and enhancing customer experience in real estate.

Lenahan emphasized the imperative of leveraging cutting-edge software and platforms for efficacious property management and operations, transcending traditional real estate practices to ensure data accuracy and bolster decision-making capabilities. Despite the myriad benefits, the conversation didn’t shy away from addressing the resistance and hesitance towards technological adoption within the industry. Lenahan advocated for a proactive stance to surmount these barriers, elucidating the paramount significance of technology in fostering innovation and delivering unmatched value to clients and stakeholders.

Navigating the practical aspects, Lenahan illuminated the instrumental role of data analytics in real estate, empowering professionals with deep insights into market trends, consumer behavior, and lucrative investment opportunities. This data-driven approach stands as a linchpin for strategic decision-making, positioning real estate enterprises at the forefront of competitiveness and success. The discussion also traversed the realms of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), with Lenahan spotlighting their burgeoning adoption for optimizing various facets of real estate operations, from property management to investment analysis.

Amid the technological advancements, the podcast echoed the importance of cybersecurity, with Lenahan underscoring the necessity of robust security measures to safeguard sensitive data and information, ensuring the integrity and security of technologically driven real estate operations. This commitment to cybersecurity stands as a testament to the industry’s dedication to offering secure and reliable services to clients, reinforcing trust and confidence in real estate transactions and operations.

In the customer-centric world of real estate, Lenahan highlighted technology’s pivotal role in elevating customer satisfaction and engagement. The seamless and efficient customer service, bolstered by technological tools, ensures timely and effective communication, fostering enduring and mutually beneficial relationships with clients. This technological enhancement of customer experience contributes significantly to the overarching success and esteemed reputation of real estate enterprises, positioning them as leaders in customer service excellence.

Shifting the spotlight to investment, Lenahan provided invaluable guidance for making strategic technology investments in real estate operations, ensuring alignment with the enterprise’s long-term vision and objectives. This discerning and informed approach to technology investment guarantees a substantial return on investment, fortifying the technological backbone of real estate operations and paving the path for sustained growth and innovation.

The Fort is produced by Johnny Peterson

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