Financing pitfalls in the age of disruptive technology

"Disruptive Technology” is a vague term. Generally anything like Uber that threatens to change one or more industries or even wipe out an industry, falls under this classification. The disruption has spilled over into commercial real estate in a big way, with some of the better known (and maybe better ideas) in the form of WeWork and Air BnB. However, “disruption” goes way beyond these near-household names and the fervor around this concept and the prospect of making wild profits off of it has caused enormous capital flow to countless startups in all facets of the industry.
I would guess most of you have not heard of Sonder, which is a line of hotels with nine US locations that is run by a mid-20’s millennial who has attracted $135 million of startup capital. The concept is that Sonder leases full floors or even entire buildings of conventional floor plate apartments (with input from Sonder during development) fills them with fine furniture and rents them out as hotel rooms, except without any of the typical amenities you would find in a hotel such as room service, a front desk, a workout room or a gift shop. The pitch is that it provides an experience of “authenticity,” another widely-used millennial-centric buzzword. Most people when traveling to a strange city on business spend very little time in their room and would rather stay in an attended building, but clearly many believe this disruption in hospitality is the future. 

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