My New Normal: Location Ventures Founder Rishi Kapoor
Location Ventures CEO Rishi Kapoor leads a multifaceted real estate company that handles investment, development, management, and sales and marketing for residential and mixed-use properties, mostly in South Florida.
The company has a development portfolio worth more than $500M, which includes a boutique condominium, a new coworking concept, multifamily projects, some luxury single-family homes and, soon, an urban mixed-use project for young professionals that combines coworking and co-living in one place.
Bisnow: Describe your work-from-home life and what you are doing in your spare time.
Kapoor: About three weeks ago, I returned to the office at our new headquarters in Coral Gables. At the onset of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, I was working from my home in Coconut Grove. My work-from-home setup was pretty comfortable with a large desk and two screens, where I took most calls and meetings. For a change of scenery, I would sit by the pool with my laptop for a bit. I used the first few days at home to thoroughly evaluate our current projects and develop digital tools with our team, to ensure there were no internal interruptions and to adapt the sales process to current circumstances. Much of my time was also dedicated to overseeing the ongoing construction of our luxury condo project, Villa Valencia, and new coworking concept, FORUM.
Bisnow: What is your company’s return-to-the-workplace plan?
Kapoor: We recently relocated to the new Location Ventures headquarters in Coral Gables, with some members of our 25-person team based at FORUM, our new coworking concept in the neighborhood. As part of our return to the workplace, we’ve implemented health and safety measures based on CDC guidelines, and have been actively gauging the comfort levels of our team. In terms of day-to-day operations, client and vendor communications, we are still tapping technology, like Zoom videoconferences, to connect.
Bisnow: What will reopening businesses and workplaces look like for you personally?
Kapoor: With the latest phase of business reopenings in Miami-Dade, I’ve welcomed the opportunity to dine outdoors at a restaurant or stop into a retail store, but I’ve remained conscious and diligent about following the recommended health and safety guidelines. During a time of crisis, it’s even more important to continue supporting our local small businesses and economy.
In terms of the workplace, we have a very creative and collaborative office culture, so our team is looking forward to resuming some sense of “normalcy” and in-person interface while continuing to practice social distancing and safety measures.
Bisnow: How will you manage the homefront as stay-at-home restrictions ease and businesses reopen?
Kapoor: My wife and I have an Australian Shepherd that was very happy to have us home for the last couple of months. We love the beach, so that has been a nice outing on the weekends now that the beaches are open. Although stay-at-home restrictions have eased, I’ve remained very aware of outings and have been careful in my approach; my priority is to ensure we maintain a healthy household.
Bisnow: What is the state of your business at the moment?
Kapoor: There are so many different facets to our business — whether it is monitoring the state of construction or developing marketing materials for a new project, we were fortunate to stay busy during this time. Construction at our boutique condo project, Villa Valencia, has continued through the pandemic, and we are on track to deliver by summer 2021. We also launched a financing program for serious buyers, something we are very proud to offer at this time.
FORUM, our new, elevated coworking concept in Downtown Coral Gables, is also leasing, which is exciting. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen an uptick in leasing inquiries and tour requests, showing signs that people are ready to re-engage and re-evaluate their office setup in a safe environment. We’re also actively putting the finishing touches on the interiors, conducting inspections and finishing landscaping on one of our single-family homes, 8325 Cheryl Lane, which we will be listing soon. We’re looking forward to having that property go to market this summer.
Bisnow: What was your impression of work from home before this got started? What is it now?
Kapoor: I’ve always understood the appeal of working from home for certain job roles and functions, but I think the onset of COVID restricting the option to work in an office changed the outlook many people had. Having a clearly defined workspace that is separate from your home life is important for productivity, maintaining levels of creativity and overall mental health. I think now we’re seeing that remote work is feasible, but the definition has changed. Rather than being at home, companies are finding smaller office footprints to rotate select employees or as a stable place for essential executives to work out of, with the concept of the office remaining intact.
Bisnow: How is your company fostering community and maintaining its culture from a distance?
Kapoor: Throughout the quarantine, our team regularly engaged in video calls, so we had an opportunity to “see” one another and create that sense of togetherness, despite being at home. We dedicate the first few minutes of our virtual meetings to team banter, so we can hear how everyone is doing and what their experience has been, just like we would at an in-person meeting. We have found that incorporating the visual element of a call, rather than just audio, has allowed us to maintain quality communication, and reinforce the symbiotic relationship that makes our company culture thrive.
Bisnow: How do you think the coronavirus could permanently affect the way real estate does business?
Kapoor: I think the coronavirus has transformed the way many real estate investors will evaluate new opportunities; many will aim for stable investments, rather than quantity and expansion. The real estate approval process with the city was also forced to modernize during this time, and I hope many of those elements will remain in place moving forward. Technology has also played a huge role in the real estate landscape and its ability to adapt quickly. We really saw that buyers and renters became more comfortable with virtual showings and tours, which drove sales and leasing activity, something that will become a permanent tool, especially for reaching an international audience.
I also think going into the pandemic, there was already a strong interest in wellness components in the real estate industry, and it was further heightened in recent months. Wellness technology systems, like DARWIN by Delos, which we were the first condo developer to incorporate into our residences at Villa Valencia, may become a new normal in buildings to optimize the indoor home environment in the future. I’m confident that we’ll see an increase in demand in these types of technologies in both residential and commercial spaces.
Bisnow: What are you most hopeful about right now?
Kapoor: I am most hopeful about the lessons we have learned over the past couple of months and how we can apply them to our company moving forward in terms of workplace culture and staying connected, our investment strategies, and what our end users will be looking for in our current and future developments. The pandemic has actually reinforced that our projects are offering what the market is looking for, so we’re feeling confident that we’re in the right space.
CORRECTION, JULY 1, 2020, 5:10 P.M. ET: An earlier version of this story cut off the last word of Kapoor's last quote. The story has been updated.