CEO and co-founder of SpaceIQ, Shahar Alster never pictured himself creating workplace optimization technologies. But after speaking with a friend, who knew someone grappling with outdated and cumbersome tools, he was inspired.
Having received his MBA in economics and marketing in 2010, Alster also had a breadth of experience under his belt. He had co-founded ASI Enter, an Israel-based IT company in addition to a slew of leadership roles with telecom companies Bezeq and ChooChee. In 2016, it was time to begin his next chapter.
“I reached out to others in facility management and heard the same story: workplace management systems were outdated,” Alster tells The Software Report. “After learning that the Facility/Workplace market was large—$20B in annual revenue—I saw an opportunity to make a difference.” Determined to build a great team that would digitize, and most of all “disrupt the market”, Alster was on his way to creating SpaceIQ.
Fueled by passion, he decided to build his team with people who saw the big picture rather than with a group of experienced professionals. “You need people who bring the right energy to a fledgling company,” Alster quips. “My rise to SpaceIQ CEO is less about my work and more about the passion our team brings to the office every day.”
This gamble paid off. Today, SpaceIQ, an innovative technology-driven software company that provides a cloud-based workplace management platform, counts unicorns and other large companies as clients, all of whom use his platform on a day-to-day basis to manage work tasks. Everyone from Walt Disney Animation and Uber to Nasdaq use the SpaceIQ platform to obtain insights that ultimately lead to strategic decisions on how to run their business. You could go as far as saying that SpaceIQ is being leveraged by the biggest companies in the world. “Our product has become mission-critical for our customers,” Alster admits.
In the last year, the company has seen three times the growth in its customer base and revenue, though success hasn’t always come easily.
Tasked with the mission to convince investors about their product, Alster laments that a large part of this became about educating investors on the day-to-day requirements of any workplace. “We were forced to provide a lot of definition [and] spent an inordinate amount of time educating investors,” he explains. But “we conquered this challenge by reminding ourselves that growing SpaceIQ is a marathon, not a sprint. We believe in our vision.”
At the heart of what makes Alster a great CEO is his adept understanding of human connection. Known to personally spend time talking with customers, he admits that he meets with them every week “to ask about their problems, what they want to achieve in the workplace, and how SpaceIQ can help them.” Listening and cultivating a deep understanding of how companies work, is part and parcel of the job at hand.
Always striving to be better, the Israeli entrepreneur looks beyond the realm of tech for inspiration. He counts business magnate and founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson as a model for great leadership. He’s “a business leader who’s doing things differently,” he says. “His perspective is that we can enjoy what we do every day—and I believe that’s true.” Alster also admires Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike, whose book, Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, inspires him to strive for more, each and every day.
While Alster throws everything into work, he still makes time to relax and create memories with his loved ones. “I love the beaches in Mexico for recharging,” he beams, but “for spiritual rejuvenation, I visit my family in Israel.”