Everyone is talking about them and they’re everywhere — co-working spaces have become THE place to be for trendy yuppies over the last couple of years.
Through my years at Rocket Internet and now Stuart Delivery, I’ve tried them all and all over the world, from London to Sydney — different countries, same trends. I am actually currently sitting in a co-working space with the Stuart UK team.
A cost-cutting solution
I didn’t choose co-working spaces to be fashionable: my first concern was cost when I decided to go for one in Sydney, while I was getting started with Foodora (Deliveroo’s competitor under Rocket Internet’s fundings, now Delivery Hero) with very aggressive growth plan, so small team at first but potentially a lot of new hires in a couple of months. I didn’t want to go for a big space directly because it would be wasting money, also I visited a couple of offices but they had very long leases agreements that scared me off a bit.
Use the co-working space to sell your products
Thus, I ended up in the friendly Fishburners in the middle of Sydney. Nice place, loads of tables in a big room with good Internet connection and an impressively-sized coffee machine.
We got started on Foodora and the proximity with the other people sharing the space with us made us talk to them — there wasn’t any close office, just tables to share. These people were the first to whom I pitched Foodora and the first ones to try out our service as well — I was also showing them our advertising campaigns to know whether they liked it or how they would change it.
They were extremely relevant for our product: young startuppeurs with attraction for online services and eagerness to try out new ones.
In that case, being in a co-working space was very useful to me and Foodora — I really leveraged the advantage of sitting in the middle of people who were matching the demographics of my clients.
This is definitely something to look at very carefully when choosing a co-working space: who are the other companies sitting there and how can we leverage them for our business? Can they be potential clients, business partners, can they help us in Operations? If the answer is yes, it’s a really good criteria to join the co-working space.
Once there, you need to do the homework: get to know your neighbours. This is generally pretty easy as there are plenty of common spaces (kitchens, etc) where it is easy to start a discussion, or social events organised by the co-working space — I have done sushi and fresh pasta making classes and that was a great way to intermingle with people I didn’t know.
But the “hype co-working bubble” also led to places which are not too much workspaces but more catwalks for hipsters looking for social recognition — not to forget their dogs! I won’t quote any name in particular — but I have been in these ones as well. A good indicator here are prices which are usually high, while co-working spaces were at first supposed to provide an affordable and flexible alternative to offices for startup types companies, these same companies which don’t have very big budgets for admin stuff, remember? These places are not only more expensive than actually having your own office, they also likely won’t get you any interesting insights or lead for your business. Also, the vibe is not the best to push your team to work hard and focus — live concerts at each floor every 2 days and flowing beer from 4pm, which is not always compatible with focused work sessions.
So say Yes & No to co-working spaces — the devil is not everywhere but you want to find the best workspace for your team.