Bisnow Bosses: How Chris Bushnell Went From Real Estate To Record Label (And Back Again)
Bisnow proudly presents a new series called “Bisnow Bosses,” focused on introducing you to the men and women building Bisnow, and your business, in your local market. Our mission is to inform and connect you to do more business, and our Bosses take it seriously! Here’s a quick chat with Chris Bushnell, our Northeast Director. We spoke with him about coming up in CRE during the Great Recession, getting signed to three music labels and the coolest venue Bisnow ever booked.
Chris Bushnell is Bisnow’s Director for the Northeast, overseeing our platform and events for New York, New Jersey and Boston. Shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How did you get into the world of CRE?
I got into commercial real estate in 2008 in Central Florida, which was pretty much the worst possible time. I was working for a ground-up multifamily developer in Orlando. We had multiple projects ready to break ground when the market fell apart.
Our shop went from 20 people to just me and the principal, Mark Findura. We did anything we could to get by, selling Publix-anchored retail centers to financing Class-A office buildings. I became a just-figure-it-out guy in that environment. In retrospect, it gave me an amazing scope of the real estate market.
How do you describe what you do?
I’m a connector of people. I broker relationships to help people do more deals.
What’s the greatest trip you ever went on?
The 11-city U.S. tour I took when I was signed to Spinnin’ Records. We hit all the major cities and played some iconic clubs. Stuff I’ll never forget.
Wait, you were a music producer?
Yeah. I always produced music as a kid and minored in music in college. I started throwing parties in college and picked up DJing. Even when I got into real estate, I continued to play parties as a side gig to offset the brutal market. I gained a little following online and got offered to sign Steve Aoki’s label, Dim Mak Records. So I did what any other 25-year-old would do, I packed up my bags and moved to LA to chase the dream for four years.
What was the coolest thing that happened to you as a musician?
Lots of amazing stuff. I released a track with Moby, I signed to Spinnin’ Records, I played Webster Hall here in New York. But there’s nothing romantic about being a struggling artist.
I always wanted to get back into CRE, but when I went looking for a job, I had a hard time saying, “Hey Mr. Developer, I’ve been DJing for the last four years, but I’d love to pencil your deals!” Apparently not a lot of EDM fans are running development shops these days.
But I pushed on, until Bisnow, which between real estate and emceeing was this weirdly perfect culmination of all my skills.
What’s your craziest experience at Bisnow?
At 6 p.m. the night before the Brooklyn State of the Market event, one of our biggest events of the year, we were told our TPA permit was rejected and we could not host the event. We had 400 people showing up in 12 hours and nowhere to put them. So we started banging on doors all over Brooklyn to find a new venue.
Fortunately, after some serious convincing, the William Vale Hotel agreed to host us in their rooftop lounge.
How did the event go?
Honestly, it was incredible. It was one of the coolest venues we’ve ever had. It was Nov. 1, but by some miracle, it was 70 degrees outside, so we had all the sponsor booths set up on the outdoor patio. To this day, no Bisnow event has ever seen as much selfie activity.
All jokes aside, it was amazing to see the Bisnow team mobilize under pressure like that. It was a worst-case scenario, but we all accepted the reality of the situation and did whatever it took to make it happen. It's actually a great representation of who we are as a company.
Have you ever had a bad job?
I wouldn’t say I’ve ever had a "bad" job, because I think you’re only as good as what you’ve experienced. I used to caddy in the summer as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, caddying for a bad golfer is the closest thing to hell on earth, especially in the heat of the summer. But caddying gave me access to some very successful people, and what I found was that the most successful ones were just nice, normal, good people. That’s powerful to learn at a young age.
I also met a couple people who I never, ever want to be like later in life, including one guy who fired me on the course for mis-clubbing him then proceeded to call me “The Help” for the next few summers.
Where will you be 10 years from now?
Hopefully working with some of the same people that I work with right now at Bisnow, changing the game, whatever that game may be. We have a bunch of amazing problem-solvers here who care so much about their work and will do whatever it takes to be the best. That’s stuff you can’t teach and the kind of people I want to be around.
You can meet Chris at any of our events in New York, New Jersey or Boston. You can also reach him at email@example.com.