Jenny Haeg, Custom Spaces Real Estate, Woman Entrepreneur

imgresSomeone I totally respect told me I should connect with Jenny.  She was in NYC and we got together to talk.  Jenny is smart, fearless, has a great nose for business and is knee deep in the real estate business, a business she started called Custom Spaces.  My kind of girl.

Jenny grew up in Eureka, a small town about 5 hours north of San Francisco. Her father is is an attorney.  Her mother is a psychologist and has her own practice.  Jenny remembered her Mom spending time while she was growing up getting her degree while working at the Estee Lauder counter at Macys to help pay bills.  Her Mom was always about women empowerment.  Not surprising that Jenny ended up so fierce.

After graduating from high school Jenny went down to LA to go to USC where she majored in business and communications.  She had spent her summers in Los Angeles with her Grandparents so knew LA.   Jenny always worked.  At 10 she started a babysitters club so it was not surprising that she is a totally motivated entrepreneur.  Her parents wanted her to go to California Poly but she chose USC and put herself through the school paying for 50% with a scholarship and the rest out of her own pocket.

Her sophomore summer she landed an internship at Kushman and Wakefield where she stayed through college.  She was offered a job when she graduated and she turned it down.  She knew she was good at real estate but she wanted to leave LA and move to San Francisco.

Jenny moved up to San Francisco and landed a job in a boutique real estate firm that began her journey.  She was the only woman in an office with 25 men.  She was the first woman they had ever hired and their firm began in 1990.  She was hired in 2005.

In her first year she was named Rookie of the Year.  After a year and a half she was given a VP title because of all the deals she had done.  VP is all about the amount of deals you close.  Here she was a VP among a group of 50 year old white guys.  It was not pretty.  She got harassed all the time.  Just as her parents taught her she always stood up for herself and didn’t take their shit.

Jenny started looking around SF and realized nobody was focusing on the tech industry.  Everyone around her thought helping those companies find space was a tremendous risk.  She was single, she saw the future and decided to do what nobody else was doing which was focus on tech.  She would close a deal and not only would her male peers give her a hard time about the companies calling them other names they would ask her to give up some of her commission to the other males in the office who had families to support.  Good for her, she refused to give up what she had earned.

When she saw the tech opportunity she spent the first three years focusing on business development essentially getting to know all the people who were launching businesses in the community.  In 2006 she met Jack and Ev at Twitter and came to Jenny to help them find their space.  Nobody wanted to help them without a term sheet but she did.  Needless to say it all went up hill from then.  Then came Dropbox, Uber and others who called on Jenny to help them find space.  She had become the go-to real estate person in tech.  Her plan was working.

She stuck with the company she was working for awhile but one day she closed a deal, got the commission and said goodbye.  She started Custom Spaces in her apartment.  Working out of her closet with a white board and desk she launched Custom Spaces.  She jumped in 2011 and hired her first employee in 2012.  Through out this time she has been angel investing in some of the companies that she has met.  I saw her portfolio.  IMHO she has a very good nose.

Fast forward Jenny now has 7 employees, all women ( gotta love that particularly in her industry ).  The deal flow is ridiculous as she is the agency to go to for commercial space.  She is taking it year by year at this point.  What I love is that she spent all that time learning her trade in a male dominated office who were all happy to rag on her but not smart enough to work like she did and see the opportunities out there.  She is tough, smart and driven.  My kind of girl.  So if you are looking for any space in SF, Jenny is the person to call on, hands down.  You might want to peer over her shoulder to see who she is investing in too but for right now that is just a passion.   Looking forward to watching Jenny grow.  Just a hunch that world domination of the real estate market might be in her future.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    That’s a very impressive list of clients they have. And a very smart niche to specialize in. I’ve had some experience looking for commercial space as a startup, and seeing others also struggle with it. The traditional commercial real-estate processes don’t address the needs of startups totally well.Do you see them expanding outside of SF like to NY for e.g.?

    1. Gotham Gal

      She’s driven so you never know.

  2. awaldstein

    Real estate is simply still broken in every way.From rentals to popups, still a morass.

  3. Jeremey G.

    No equality in her work place.

    1. Gotham Gal

      ha. true that.

  4. AG

    Like her website too.

  5. JLM

    .Cushman & Wakefield, not KushmanJLM.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Ah. Correct