Commercial Property Executive: CPE’s Stars To Watch 2019: Challenging The Norms

As published in Commercial Property Executive

In 2018, Shivam Patel closed one of the deals that propelled flexible office provider Knotel into the big league. The transaction involved the three-building property at 530-536 Broadway in Soho, owned by Wharton Properties and Thor Equities.

“We had tried to sign that space a year earlier, but the owner didn’t feel comfortable working with Knotel at the time,” Patel noted. “One of our competitors ended up taking over a year to try and negotiate a deal, and I eventually was able to convince that owner to give Knotel a second shot. We ended up negotiating a transaction in under two months.”

Patel joined Knotel two-and-a-half years ago—back when it only included 10 people. It’s a risk he consciously assumed because, after working in investment banking and real estate financing for close to three years, he wanted a more entrepreneurial role.

“I decided to join a company that was trying to challenge the norms of real estate while still in its infancy. I joined Knotel during its ‘seed’ round—that was prior to the company raising Series A, and 95 percent of startups fail trying to go from being a Series A to a Series B company,” Patel said.

After graduating the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in 2012, Patel worked for investment banking firm Moelis & Co., where he covered finance and health-care companies but none directly related to real estate. Two years later, he made the move to private equity firm Boathouse Capital.

“In addition to executing transactions on more than 1 million square feet in New York City and San Francisco, despite being new to real estate, Shivam has helped shape and build an industry-leading real estate function at Knotel,” said Eugene Lee, the firm’s CIO & global head of real estate.

What He Likes About Real Estate: “Real estate is something that can be transformed, which is a unique fact. It’s like watching an HGTV show every day.”

What Keeps Him Motivated: Knotel’s approach to the office leasing space is similar to how hotel operators and owners are cooperating. “Not only does it allow owners to generate higher returns compared to a traditional lease, but also better aligned incentives between both parties. I think this is where commercial real estate will eventually be heading,” he added.

If He Wasn’t in Real Estate, He Would Be … in the start-up scene. “The challenging environment, trying to build a business and being in a fast-paced landscape as a start-up is something that I love being a part of,” Patel said.

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