“You have to be a little crazy to be an entrepreneur because the thing does’t exist. You need to describe it in such rich detail that people can visualize it, get excited about it, and want it to exist too.”
Daniel Rosenzweig is the founder of Kettle, a workspace technology company specializing in hybrid work management. Dan graduated from Vanderbilt in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2011 with a degree in economics and history and a minor in political science. Daniel’s fondest memories at school included his time on the Vanderbilt Club Lacrosse team, which he still enjoys giving back to over ten years later.
After graduation, he started his career at a hedge fund, working on relationship management. The job just “wasn’t for me,” Dan said. Six months later, he moved on to the bankruptcy and restructuring behemoth Alvarez & Marsal. He joined the real estate advisory team during their work on the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, one of the largest corporate bankruptcies of all time. Some other projects of interest he worked on were the Detroit bankruptcy and real estate optimization for the state of Louisiana.
His most interesting work at Alvarez & Marsal was with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, establishing a way to make office space more affordable for startups. During this project, he was introduced to the company WeWork, a co-working space provider headquartered in New York. Daniel left Alvarez & Marsal to join the real estate team at WeWork to focus on solving the office space problem plaguing founders.
Rent prices were skyrocketing, and proprietors wanted their renters to have outstanding credit, two obstacles working against startups. At WeWork, Daniel facilitated 4.5 million square feet of locations across 35 cities and 6 continents to provide co-working spaces to founders needing a place to work. Daniel left the company to build KettleSpace in 2016, before the WeWork scandal. Although he was only at the company for a year, Daniel learned valuable lessons about himself and how to be a good leader.
“[Working at WeWork] helped me learn what I like, and what I don’t like, and I learned how to be a good manager and how to not,” Daniel said.
Daniel was unsatisfied with the enormous costs and capital WeWork incurred to secure coworking locations and the exorbitant membership prices to reflect the cost.
“I began thinking, ‘why are we building new things?’” Daniel said. “It already exists.”
Dinner-only restaurants sat empty until 6 p.m. every night while nearby coffee shops were full to the brim, with freelancers, contract workers, and founders looking for a cheap place to get work done. Daniel realized those empty restaurants would be the perfect place to get work done during the day. He began partnering with restaurants and hotels to offer professionals a place to work at a fraction of the cost of other coworking companies.
“The restaurants and the hotels had empty seats, which are inventory that is just going to waste. They are paying rent and air conditioning, but the space is just sitting there empty during the day. So, the idea was to create revenue for them during the day.”
From Profit to Pivot
By the time COVID hit in 2020, KettleSpace had a couple million in revenue with over 40 locations and close to 7,000 members. The shared-spaces model Daniel had created was fruitless during lockdowns and social distancing. Thankfully, Kettle had recently developed software to help build the Kettle community, allowing members to view and book seats at locations near them. Daniel saw how this could benefit people looking to get out of the house safely and maintain social distance, so he pivoted Kettle.
New York University (NYU) reached out to Daniel during the pandemic to help their student find a safe way to get out of the confines of their dorm rooms. Scarcity of seats across campus left students going stir crazy in their rooms. Dan facilitated the setup of thousands of COVID seats across hotels and restaurants in New York City and adapted the Kettle software so students could reserve seats ahead of time. Fast-forward to 2022, Kettle now uses that same model for companies all over the country and continues to work with NYU as well.
“Before Covid, everyone went to work five days a week, but now people are realizing the power of technology and working from anywhere,” Daniel said.
The Kettle software, now KettleOS, allows companies to see where their team is in real-time by synchronized calendars and broadcasting locations of all members. Kettle’s customizable offerings allow companies of all formats to benefit from the flexible work management the software provides.
“We take the back and forth out of trying to plan meetings with co-workers around everyone’s schedule,” Daniel said. “Our goal is to use software as a tool to make it really easy for you to connect with people when you want to.”
The Kettle software intends to take the hassle out of the complicated planning hybrid work can create. By synching calendars and tracking locations, the platform can recommend times and locations to meet with team members convenient to everyone. Kettle also enables members to reserve seats, offices, and rooms within a company’s workspace or connect members to coworking spaces nearby if their company does not have office space.
Daniel attributes his ability to pivot in the face of the pandemic to his aptitude to constantly audit.
“We should always be auditing what we are doing and asking ourselves, ‘why are we doing what we are doing?’ and ‘can we do something better?’” Daniel said.
He also mentioned how important it is for founders to create a space where employees are empowered to do the same.
Million Dollar Moments
“To see your business, do what you hope it is going to do is the most rewarding feeling outside of parenthood,” Daniel said when talking about being a founder. Not only did Daniel successfully build a multimillion-dollar company, but also, he was able to rebuild it again after the pandemic hit.
Not even COVID could stand in the way of Daniel’s entrepreneurial spirit. He was able to pivot on a dime when the situation called for a change, and he has come out the other side of the pandemic enthusiastic about the future of KettleOS. The new platform launched in Q1 of 2022 and has had tremendous success thus far. The company recently signed a deal with real estate giant Tishman Speyer, and Daniel proclaimed that Kettle is about to, “tip again.”
Daniel said he lives by the quote, “change is the only constant in life.” Posted in his office, the quote reminds him daily of the adaptability and persistence entrepreneurship requires. His keen ability to do both has allowed him the opportunity to transform and improve Kettle, and he is eager to see where this new path leads him.