[quote style=”boxed”]I put an extreme premium on customer service. I’m tremendously accommodating day in and day out and I feel confident that ultimately, this is what keeps us in business. At the end of the day, all you have is your customers. If they’re not happy, I don’t care what your service is, it will not sell. You need happy customers.[/quote]
Raymond Rahbar Jr., founder of UberOffices, brings a diverse background in law, politics, taxation, and business management to the Virginia-based coworking company.
Previously, he worked for real estate firm American Majestic Development. In his role as CFO of American Majestic Construction, Mr. Rahbar was responsible for overseeing over 700 workers and negotiating over 150 contracts and subcontracts. His ability to manage clients expectations, deliver under budget and ahead of schedule earned him the business and respect of foreign Royal Families in their domestic construction needs.
Mr. Rahbar was born and raised in Virginia and currently resides in Arlington, Virginia. He graduated from Georgetown University Law Center with a LL.M. in Taxation. Rahbar also holds his Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounting. In his spare time, Mr. Rahbar actively volunteers on Local and National political campaigns and is a guest lecturer in the field of Finance, Tax and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business. While recognized as a detail-oriented researcher, Mr. Rahbar was selected to have a scholarly paper published in a prestigious Law Journal.
Today he is most recognized for his work with NextGen Angels – an organization that aims to be the most entrepreneur-friendly angel investor group in the world, and, of course, as a founder and CEO of UberOffices.
Raymond Rahbar is has been described as “one of those people who everyone knows in the DC Tech community.” As a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of the coworking space UberOffices, he is truly one of the DC tech scene’s biggest supporters.
What are you working on right now?
UBER. OFFICES. No seriously though, my main focus right now is on Tysons (new northern Virginia office) and Dupont (downtown DC space). Both locations are going live within a couple months of each other. It takes up most of my time dealing with these two spaces. A lot of effort is going into the business right now.
Where did the idea for UberOffices come from?
My friends and I always had startups and small businesses but we could never find really good real estate. We needed something affordable, clean, and in a good location. It didn’t seem like too tall of an order and yet we could never find the perfect option. In 2013, real estate professionals don’t even know what real estate is anymore. UberOffices was created to solve the problem.
How do you make money?
We find large quantities of underutilized real estate. We make it more functional; outfit it for work life. We chop the space up into small pieces and rent out those small pieces.
What does your typical day look like?
We have a saying here at UberOffices that if you’re still on-schedule at 10 am something is horribly wrong. I never know what the day will throw at me.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We’re big on collaboration and experimentation. We’ll try something out, see what works and determine what people like and what they don’t like. It’s really just a matter of giving our members the perks that make them look forward to coming into our offices every day.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Large landlords are struggling to adapt to the year 2013. This is an unfortunate situation for them but it makes my life easier. The more outdated they are, the better it makes our concept look.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I’ve been really lucky and haven’t had any job that was truly awful… Ultimately, I’d have to say that the worst job I ever had was bartending at Chili’s. It was just an overall unpleasant experience. But the thing is, I had bartended before and I’ve bartended since and no other place was as terrible. What I learned from that professional experience was that if you work with shitty people, it’s going to be a shitty job.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting over again from square one, I’d choose not to work with certain property groups. There’s one firm in Virginia that has just been a nightmare to work with. If I had the time back when we first started out, I’d pick and choose our real estate partners more carefully. Great space is great, but if we could turn back the clock and not deal with this one particular firm, we would avoid them at all costs. They make my life hard.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I put an extreme premium on customer service. I’m tremendously accommodating day in and day out and I feel confident that ultimately, this is what keeps us in business. At the end of the day, all you have is your customers. If they’re not happy, I don’t care what your service is, it will not sell. You need happy customers.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve picked some bad partners and worked with bad investors. I learned that there’s more to an investor than just money.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Currently, the business model for UberOffices is essentially real estate as a service, but you can take it even further. We provide space for companies, entrepreneurs, and start-ups, but the same could be done for aspiring chefs, artists, musicians, etc. A commercial grade kitchen for example is extremely expensive to rent out for an individual but if the space is divided up or shared amongst many, it suddenly becomes more affordable. I see real potential in the idea of a sharing economy in the real estate sense.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would make education better. It’s the lack of education that leads to ignorance, which kills people’s rights around the world. Poor education makes it difficult to move up the economic and social ladder. Without education, it’s hard to improve your life. Education needs to be of a higher quality, more accessible, and free. How would I fix it? This is a monumental issue. I have no idea.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I haven’t lost a game of cornhole in all of 2013.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
First, the Gmail plugin, Boomerang. I’ll schedule emails out so recipients don’t end up with 10 from me at once. I have a bad habit of falling behind on emails. Boomerang allows me to space them out during catch-up. Also, as a rule, I try to avoid emailing people on the weekend. With Boomerang, I can time them to go out Monday morning.
Next, I’d say, Cirrus Insight. It’s a Salesforce/Gmail plugin that helps you organize your CRM and save time.
I also use Rapportive. It’s fun. With Rapportive I can pull in reporter information, get all their contact info, and then reach out with content ideas and industry news.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Inc. & Grow Rich. I don’t make it required reading for university classes I teach, but I highly, highly suggest it. It helps business people think outside the box and just generally think about atypical aspects of entrepreneurship.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
– KellyOxford – hilarious comedian. Can’t get enough of her. She can be extremely crass, but extremely funny.
– BakedandwiredDC – Their tweets are unique and full of witticisms but also promote their company culture and product.
– UberStories – This twitter details the day-to-day life of entrepreneurs and start-ups that currently call UberOffices home. Great peek into the lives of some innovative small business leaders.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
About 35 seconds ago. This interview.
Who is your hero?
Rick Shelby – He’s a major player at the American Gas Association. In political life, he was the nicest, most helpful person I’ve ever met in my life.
Do I need to raise money for my startup?
No. It’s not fun to have investors. Only raise money if you need to. It’s not fun to bring on investors and lose control of your ideas. Don’t buy into the “TechCrunch” hype. Success is measured by how many customers you have or how big your profits are. Success shouldn’t be measured by how much money you raise.
Why have you never joined Facebook?
I always really valued in-person relationships. I like meeting people and hanging out with them in person. I never really cared to keep tabs on trivial things happening in the daily lives of acquaintances. Also, Facebook is a place where people go to post cool, exciting photos. It’s not real life.
UberOffices on Facebook:
Raymond Rahbar Jr. on Twitter: @RayRahbar
Raymond Rahbar Jr. on LinkedIn:
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.