Meet William Bennett: Road Trip Led to Dallas
William Bennett left Chicago and started a road trip with his family, well before the pandemic. In 2017, the Bennetts went on an 18-month road trip. They stopped wherever and whenever they wanted, and moved on in the same manner. With a combination of hotels, Airbnb, and friends’ and family’s homes, they had a great adventure. They liked Dallas so much, they stopped twice in the city and eventually moved here. “Bill” moved his EO membership from Chicago to Dallas this past October.
Bill is a scientist by training. He graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s Degree in industrial engineering. He worked in alternative energy out of college and went through six rounds of venture funding which then turned into an IPO. He went on to get a Master’s of Science in engineering management from Northwestern University and moved into the private equity business. He also got an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management in real estate, finance and entrepreneurship.
“I decided I wanted to switch into something that couldn’t be outsourced,” said Bill. “I went into real estate: buying single family homes and fixing them up in Austin. Then I focused on the real estate development side – not just the finance or private equity. I started student housing in 2006, and then I wanted to go after this business and create the anti-WeWork and anti-Regis space.”
The inspiration came from Bill’s own efforts renting office space. “It was a crazy experience: expensive, bad customer service, bad technology, and it was full. I thought if someone did this right and owned the building and offered a good value, they could offer a better product at a better price. The competitors rent space from a landlord and then mark it up significantly. If you own the building, you collapse that layer of cost.”
That’s how Novel Coworking was born. Bill wanted to help serve businesses, help them grow and give them legitimate working space. Today, the company rents office space to small and medium-size businesses. They have 43 locations in 33 US cities, with one in the Katy Building (701 Commerce) in downtown Dallas. Incidentally, that’s also the headquarters of Novel now, and Bill welcomes Forums to reach out to him to use space gratis for forum meetings on a quarterly basis.
The pandemic has affected the business, but it’s varied partially based on geography. “Dallas is going great,” reported Bill. “Other cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, San Diego have been much harder. Overall our business has grown from pre-Covid.” He expects next year will offer substantial growth. “We’ve never seen more natural job formation in professional services before in the U.S. More people have broken off from corporate careers and started their new services. I expect big growth in small and medium business communities in the U.S. 2021 will be a boom time, one of best economies of our lifetimes by second half of the year.”
On the personal front, Bill and his wife, Annika, have three sons. They have identical 15-year-old twin boys and a 12-year-old as well. They are all skiers and sailors. Bill continues teaching as a professor at Northwestern University’s business school, where he instructs classes in business, real estate and entrepreneurship. He teaches about 20 nights a year, flying back to teach, pre-Covid. “We have the greatest airports in the world and are quick flight away. I settled in Southlake, where we had stayed with friends, partly because it’s close to airport.”
We’re happy to welcome Bill to the EO Dallas tribe, and look forward to showing him more of the Dallas hospitality and style that brought him and his family to our area.