The Building Launch Playbook: HqO At The Innovation & Design Building

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It has been an exciting couple of months for us here at HqO. And as we sat down for our all company, monthly recap meeting last Friday, one thing in particular has us all buzzing: the data from our launch with Jamestown at the Innovation & Design Building.


I can’t get into all the specifics of the data here (as of now), but let’s just say that the results have blown even our own expectations out of the water.


Because there is no pre-existing blueprint or playbook for launching an app for a multi-tenant, 1.4 million square foot office building (seriously, try googling “how to launch an app for an office building” and it’s… just not helpful), we ran our launch like any lean startup would – we listened, collected data, and spent our time and money accordingly.


Our Success/Growth team, in particular Katie Muto and Kate Milson, deserve a ton of credit for pulling this off. And now that we have a few more successful launches under our belt (modeled after the IDB launch), we feel we’ve uncovered the founding principles of a successful building launch.


As always, we wanted to give this knowledge back and share another critical learning from the tenant experience (TeX) world.


So here’s our building launch playbook!




Talk to tenants & collect data


At the IDB, there are over 90 tenants (~2,000+ employees), all with their own unique cultures and needs. Jamestown had done a wonderful job helping us understand their tenants needs throughout our sales process, but we wanted to take it one step further and meet as many of the tenants as possible before launch.


So with some helpful introductions from Jamestown, we met with HR Managers, Operations Managers, Heads of People – anyone who spent a portion of their days thinking about the happiness and wellbeing of the company employees. We also chatted with anyone who would give us a minute of their time while they were at lunch or walking around the building.


One of our best moves was including the retail tenants (Triangle Coffee, Reebok, Fare Well, etc) in these preliminary conversations. Sure, at HqO, we can take a property with zero on-site amenities and bring those to the building as needed, but we’re also an incredible marketing channel for pre-existing on-site amenities.


By making tenants aware of everything these on-site businesses have to offer, and by giving those businesses a place to promote deals & specials through the app, we drive more foot traffic and more business.


Including these on-site businesses in our tenant conversations before launch – and explaining how we were there to help, not compete – made partners out of every retail location in the building. Accordingly, when we finally did launch, these businesses would pitch and help explain HqO to their patrons – giving us additional points of contact in the building.


Map out the day in the life of a tenant


Once we felt we had enough of a chance to speak with tenants, we met internally to make sense of everything we had heard. From all our conversations, we could start to piece together what the day of an average tenant might look like.


How do they get to work? More specifically, how many take the shuttle, public transportation, or drive? Where do they enter the building? Where do they like to eat? What are those peak times? Where do they go after work?


All these questions allowed us to prioritize our launch week in a way that appealed to the most possible tenants. Of course, the HqO app itself is valuable over time – with building updates, neighborhood guides, and local deals/perks – but we knew we were likely only going to be able to keep people’s attention for a few seconds (if that) when we saw them at the IDB, so we needed to prove value instantly.


To give some super simple examples (if I give too much of the secret sauce away, Katie & Kate will shun me) – we knew that most IDB tenants take the shuttle or silver line to the building, meaning morning coffees were a great way to add value right away (we’ve found that people who drive to work tend to grab their coffee on their drive in as a part of their morning routine, while train/shuttle commuters typically pick something up at or by the office).


Additionally, Reebok, one of the IDB’s largest tenants, is obsessed with fitness and working out (see also: massive, two-story Crossfit gym attached to Reebok’s office), so we knew something complimentary to that lifestyle – like a free chair massage – would be a great way to get their attention.


Have a presence


Seeing as just about no one has ever had an app specifically for their building before, we knew our launch week programming had to not only create value (and incentivize installs) instantly, but also drive users to the normal actions they would take on the app during a typical week with the app.


For each of our events, we would send push notifications reminding users of the event. If they clicked that push notification, they would be taken to a specific section of the app to register for or claim a perk. This tactic prepared users for building updates through HqO push notifications, familiarized them with the different sections of the app, and exposed them to the other perks and content that would remain in the app even after the launch.


It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a free waffle!


We knew that there was going to be some serious heavy-lifting with respect to educating tenants on how to use our app, so we thought it best to have a strong, in-person presence at the IDB throughout our entire first launch week.  Super strong:

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From Monday to Friday, we had between 5-6 people at the IDB for almost the entire day. We were handing out cards with information on the app and QR codes for download while giving 10 second pitches on the app itself. We answered any questions tenants had but were respectful of people and their time (if someone has their headphones in and their head down, leave them alone…).


And if you didn’t physically walk past one of our employees in the building, you certainly couldn’t miss our strategically placed posters, flyers, and index cards.


Besides building their brand by delivering an extremely positive and successful first couple of launch weeks, Jamestown will be able to leverage the data they’ve gather through our app to continue to deliver incredible experiences to their tenants.


While we were wrapping things up one afternoon of our first launch week, a Jamestown employee told us they had learned more about their tenants in the first few days of our launch than they had over the past couple of years.


It is truly exciting for both HqO and Jamestown to have had such a successful launch, but we know that as the data continues to pile up, and HqO’s app functionality continues to expand, tenant experiences will only continue to improve.



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