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Meet Matt Davis of IgnitedSpace

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Davis.

Matt, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We started working on this “project” back in the summer of 2012. The idea was to create a workspace that combined the professionalism and sophistication of CAA type office space with the culture and flexibility of some of the new coworking spaces that were starting to pop-up. We found old school executive suite spaces not only void of any culture whatsoever, but also representative of everything we hate about having to go into the office. Conversely, these new coworking spaces were loud, busy, small, rarely had much natural light and seemed to encourage little more than networking and ping-pong – not exactly havens for productivity. In both scenarios, very little emphasis seemed to be placed on service and hospitality and this was something we both saw as a big opportunity.

Fast forward a year and a half and we finally got our first spot opened up on Hollywood Blvd – November of 2013. This was after another deal fell apart in the 11th hour due to a square footage discrepancy with the Landlord after the lease was out for signature and after an eight-month negotiation with our new Sublandlord and the building owner. But with only $350K in seed capital with had 8,600 SF of Penthouse office space in the heart of Hollywood. It was terribly inefficient space for a business model like ours, but we locked in a crazy below market rate for four years.

10 months later, the Sublandlord went bankrupt. We had attempted to secure an SNDA with the Landlord when we were negotiating the deal, but that was a non-starter. We moved forward knowing the risk and our fears were realized. The only way we could sustain the rental increase was to take another, more efficiently built-out floor and rebuild our current space when the adjacent tenant moved.

We signed a lease for another 14,000 SF with rights the rest of our current floor for some point in the future and commenced construction with a loan one of us took out on our house. Six months later, our contractor went bankrupt. The space was eventually finished severely over-budget and extremely late, but it was finished in the summer of 2016. The stories of this construction disaster are enough to make any entrepreneur sick at their stomach – we’ll spare the details.

By this time, coworking had become ubiquitous – we had several new competitors in our submarket and our tired lobby was making it difficult to stand out as the five-star space we set out to create. More importantly, we wanted to find new way to help propel our client base which was almost entirely made up of media and entertainment companies. Without a completely ironed out business plan, we leased the 20K SF ground floor of our building in order to create the lobby we needed to stand out and provide the post production services our clients we’re struggling to find.

A loooong year later, the lobby opened. Personal opinion, but it’s really beautiful. Six months after that – today – our post production facility is 90% finished. In a few months, our 4K SF Walk of Fame facing pop-up shop and venue space will be completed along with a small showcase retail shop. This far west corner of the Walk of Fame has improved mildly over the years, but it’s still not great. That’s all about to change. Hollywood Blvd is one of the most iconic places in the World – especially to anyone that considers themselves a storyteller. It’s high time it’s brought back to its glory and provides the resources necessary for the next generation of storytellers.

IgnitedSpaces is now a modern creative media campus. From concept to completion, it’s a place and collection of resources for media and entertainment companies to develop impactful content. We could submit an entire dissertation on the crazy challenges we’ve faced and continue to face in our quest to build this company, but we’re still here and more optimistic than ever that the value we add to our members will help them change the world in big and exciting ways.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’m not sure I remember what a smooth road looks like! We’ve narrowly escaped death a dozen times in some bizarre circumstances.

We’ve had real estate deals die in the 11th hour – one because the Landlord decided to re-measure the space and it magically came back near 1k SF larger throwing all of our projections off. Another because the Landlord didn’t get the proper historical permits and the building was shut down by the city.

Our sublandlord in our current Hollywood space went bankrupt and we lost our lease. The new deal was 56% more expensive than the sublease.

Our contractor went bankrupt midway through a $1.25MM project. Wound up costing us nearly 50% more than projected.

We’ve had several clients go bankrupt as well. Some were just tough deals that happened to good people. Others were some bad apples we shouldn’t have let in in the first place. In both cases, we lost a lot of money.

Financing has been tough. We borrowed money for our first big expansion and because it took so long our numbers didn’t look great when we needed to raise more. Several million dollar plus investors went all the to legal to fizzle out for one reason or another at the very end.

All that to say, we’ve had a few miracles as well – enough to keep us believing in what we’re doing and moving forward in spite of the challenges. From investors and partners buying in to the vision to clients coming back year in and year out encouraging us to keep building, we’re setting out in 2018 as emboldened as ever.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with IgnitedSpaces – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
IgnitedSpaces is a home for the modern storyteller. A radical convergence of workspace and content creation studios, IgnitedSpaces is a place and community for brands and artists to leverage their voice for cultural and technological advancement. Our flagship Hollywood Boulevard location features 45,000 square feet of beautiful and turn-key workspaces and meeting rooms and a complete suite of post-production facilities including editing bays, DI suites, sound mixing, shooting space and recording studios.

We’re proud of the role we’re planning in the evolving landscape of content creation and its emphasis on independence. New distribution methods now allow for most anyone with a great story to tell to have that story heard, but making those stories come to life is still a challenge. Ignited is a complete ecosystem that provides the facilities, services and network necessary for independent content development and as a result, it’s unlike any place in the world.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Within the next few months, our Walk of Fame frontage space will be completed. We’re excited for both the brand exposure as well as the showcase capacity for brands, productions and innovators to display their work – be it a product, a film, an event or even and innovative service or technology.

We’ll also be opening our DTLA location in the coming months. It consists of 42K SF of office and event space on the 12th floor of the iconic CMC building in the fashion district. It was designed and built from the ground up and is the perfect complement to our Hollywood location.

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