Interview with condo industry professional Pat Crosscombe, CEO BoardSpace

New York City Apartment Building Chat is a podcast that interviews industry professionals in the co-op and condo industry who are great resources for coop and condo boards.

Host Tina Larsson invited Pat Crosscombe to her podcast. 

Tina Larsson: Hi everyone and welcome to NYC apartment building chat this is where I bring on industry professionals in the co-op and condo industry who I think will make a great resource or co-amp and condo boards out there.

Today I have the great pleasure of having all the way from Canada – Pat Crosscombe, the founder and CEO of BoardSpace. Welcome.

Pat Crosscombe: Thanks Tina. Thank you so much for inviting me to chat with you today.  I’m looking forward to our conversation. This is going to be fun.

Tina: Why don’t we just start right away. Why don’t you just tell me why you do what you do and how do you end up doing starting your company?

Pat: I am an accidental entrepreneur. I had a very different career. I went to university and studied agriculture. I’m actually a dairy science specialist and I love cows.

When later in my career I ended up in Ottawa with a permanent full-time job for the first time in my life.  I had enough money and bought my first home. Which of course was a condominium.

I was so excited, and I moved into my condominium and within about two weeks I realized that there was a lot of noise going on and people were talking.

I learned very soon and then essentially over the next year that I had bought a lemon. It was a lemon condo it was all those horror stories that you hear about condos.  I volunteered to get on the board because I thought I could help. I definitely wanted to try and fix all our legal problems so I got on the board.

We were a board of three and I spent five years on this very, very, very, very, very, busy board trying to fix all of our problems.  We were a great board. It was it was a lot of fun.

We worked well together for the most part in those days but none of us knew anything about condos. None of us knew anything about boards and the only technology that we had to help us get our jobs done was our typical was our email accounts. Nothing else.

We were crazy busy with legal affairs and had lots of construction going on. I learned so much but after five years I was truly worn out and so frustrated trying to find documents in my inbox.

At that time over 5000 emails so just finding the most recent minutes of a particular meeting before we had edited them was well painful because there were multiple emails and the reply all emails and so on and so forth.

So after I think I was about three terms, I decided not to run again, I had this idea that I was going to build a better mousetrap. I was going to build a tool that would help condo boards get their work done so that’s what I jumped off and started to work on BoardSpace.

I will tell you that I did not come from a technology or software background. I’m a dairy science specialist I know all about cows, but I knew nothing about software so off I went, and I have spent the last how many years oh I guess it’s uh seven years now building BoardSpace.

Tina: Wow that’s amazing! You provide a great service. We’re going to get into that. Your service is really fantastic.  I have seen it and used it and it’s wonderful and very well needed. so a dairy farmer who bought a condo, who volunteered to your board and you realize that this is just a big mess. Someone has to help fix this so okay so BoardSpace.

How is it that you’re not a technology person but you develop this fantastic technology.  What is it that BoardSpace does?

Pat: As you said it BoardSpace is in the cloud so we are software that organizes a condo board’s records so all your documents, minutes, looks after to-do lists, and it organizes it in a way that you can actually find them again so if you go looking for a document you can find that document because we have it organized in a way that is user friendly and anyone can find it we also keep track of who is doing what so that you never forget to get something done and again the reminders are automatically sent so you get an email every week telling you have this to do.

We also,we have a number of other things as well. We have a search function that lets you go back through your BoardSpace and find anything. So any piece of data – a meeting a motion – an event – an action or anything and you can find it with a very simple keyword search.

We now have e-signatures because obviously in the last year with our pandemic affecting everyone especially boards it’s been more and more difficult for boards to actually be together in the same room and be able to sign documents so the e-signatures was something that we created as a result of the pandemic

Tina: That’s great and so this obviously saves boards a lot of time a lot of effort a lot a lot of agony I’m assuming yeah agonies there’s a lot of agony in not being able to stay organized.

What are the different parts-  so it’s basically a project management software specifically for a board?

Pat: Loosely it’s project management but it’s actually much more than project management. I call it board management software. Project management software has a specific purpose and it’s tailored more to things like a team in a company rather than a board which has a very unique set of responsibilities because governance is the main responsibility and oversight.

Tina: When should a board call you?

Pat: Today. Right away because there is no time like the present to either get organized or to be better organized. I talk to a lot of different boards in in a week. I always ask them before I meet with them for a demonstration – I ask them what kind of technology they’re using. The vast majority I would say like well over 90% will tell me basically nothing. Everyone’s using email of course but they’re using Google Docs or Dropbox. That’s when people come to me.

I recently chatted with a fellow who was a brand new board member. He was stunned when previous board member came to him with a box – a banker’s box filled with records.

For him that was the trigger that he had to go find a better way to look after all this paper. He came to me without the rest of his board as he wanted to get some ideas as to what would make his life better. Then he went back to the board and sold BoardSpace to the rest of the board and they’re now using it.

There is no time like now to get better organized because I appreciate how difficult it is for a volunteer board of directors with three, five or seven people who are all busy people with full-time jobs and family’s and lives. They don’t need to spend crazy amounts of time trying to find documents.

If they are really lucky, they might even meet Bill. BoardSpace Bill is my very friendly and very cheeky unicorn mascot.

Tina: He’s fantastic I see him all over social media nice to meet you, Bill. I didn’t think that I would ever see him.  He got the memo too. I’m wearing pink. You’re wearing pink and Bill is wearing pink.

Indeed. I want to thank you so much for stopping by this was great I’m going to spread the word and hope that you will be able to help a lot of co-op and condo boards who are very disorganized who can definitely use you use your help.

Pat:  I look forward to helping them and it’s been great to chat with you.

Tina: Have a good one bye everyone and thank you for stopping by.

Co-Founders Tina Larsson and Mark Foley are financial consultants and efficiency experts for co-op and condo boards as well as building owners. We have 50+ years combined experience, analyzing and interpreting complex financial data. Our firm has built proprietary benchmarks, including data of operating costs and project costs for over 200 buildings. We have successfully saved buildings hundreds of thousands of dollars; including buildings with no maintenance increases for 7 years.

The Folson Group is an energy efficiency consultant, actively working with buildings on meeting the Climate Mobilization Act mandates to avoid fines by 2024 and beyond.