Meet the Member: WattRem
Member news | January 21, 2019
Meet the Member: Romain Wattebled, CEO of WattRem
Romain has been a valued member of the FACC community since beginning his Active Membership in January of 2017. He's participated in many events from the Beaujolais Nouveau celebration to an evening with Paris Saint-Germain. Recently, we spoke to Romain to learn more about his business expertise and advice for fellow FACC members.
FACC: Watt Real Estate Management helps French companies establish themselves in the United States through project consulting. What makes you stand apart from other, traditional real estate agents?
RW: WATTRem is not a Real Estate Agent but a Facilitator and a Project Manager. We accompany clients through the time-consuming and daunting work that a new project represents. We are on the client side.
Through the years, we’ve understood that it is not easy to manage a commercial real estate project while you are running your own business – Even more so in a foreign country. This is why we’ve decided to provide full package services as a real estate department could do.
We assist our clients:
- Before the research; working on the program (square footage needed, schedule and location),
- During the research; providing numbers & tests for decision-making (estimated budget, technical feasibility, estimated schedule, test-fits)
- After the research for the design development, the competitive bidding and the work construction management.
It’s an “all in one” solution to facilitate the overall project.
FACC: Real Estate in Manhattan can be difficult to navigate. What advice do you have for French startups attempting to secure a foothold in New York?
RW: Startups need advice more than anyone. We mostly recommend starting the set-up in a co-working space depending of the number of employee for the first year. There is a huge offer in New York now. When the company scales-up and wants to create a place that reflects its culture/value, we are here to help them grow and find a flexible lease.
Editor's note: FACC CoWork is available to welcome members of our community on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
FACC: One of the questions you help companies address is “how long?”. What does a typical timeline look like from initial consultation to moving into a new office? ( this can vary drastically based on the size of the company and their specific needs, but perhaps take the example of an office of 10 employees?)
RW: The timeline depends on building types, existing conditions and specifications of the project. It’s hard to predict precisely with no hypotheses.
However & whatever your project is; retail or office space, you must consider at least: 3 months of research and lease negotiation, 1-6 months for design development, permit & contractors’ bids and another 2-6 month of construction depending of the specifications and permit needed. For an example of 10 employees project in office space, 4-6 months for the overall project seems a reasonable timeline.
FACC: Many of your clients are likely working abroad before establishing their New York office. Your site mentions using VR, real time 3D & augmented reality as tools. How has this technology changed the real estate landscape for international clients?
RW: Virtual Reality is a chance for us to dust off the design & build industry. In the meantime, it is a great opportunity to bring to life our drawings and ideas. Most of our clients have real issues to project themselves into space. The VR is the most efficient immersive solution that allows our clients to be wherever they want while visiting the concept we draw.
For a tenant, we can also use the display to communicate with the employees about the project & timeline. It’s one of the tools for Change Management that brings serenity for all.
From a landlord point of view, it is the immersive and incredible marketing solution for decision making. It shows how the space will look like avoiding expenses in work construction well before the lease negotiation. Paper documents are over! This is the old-fashioned way. We are now developing an application with real-time test-fits for a premise. The potential tenant can check in one minute if he fits into the space.
In the end, we save time and money on both sides; for tenants in preliminary studies, for landlords in construction.
FACC: What is once piece of advice you would like to share with FACC members?
RW: Prepare your project and your financial studies with skilled and experienced partners and do not overlook preliminary studies. Get help from professionals in your particular market. Real estate construction and negotiation are really different compared to France. The budgets are bigger too so you want someone looking out for you.