Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) is the largest coworking conference series in the world. GCUC USA 2017, held in New York City from May 5-7, lived up to its promise of “a worldwide explosion of coworking awesomeness” through exploring locations, design, branding and more.
One of the sessions held on Day 1 of the conference, Planning For Explosive Growth, brought together a panel of coworking experts, moderated by Laura Kozelouzek. Laura is the CEO and Founder of Quest Workspaces. The speakers on the panel include Ryan Simonetti of Convene, Jamie Hodari of Industrious, John Arenas of Serendipity Labs and Mark Hemmeter of Office Evolution. These coworking workspaces have experienced disruptive growth and brand differentiation in the recent years.
Laura asked the following questions to the panel for them to bring forward their perspectives.
Q. What is your vision for growth? How does your company stand out from the others? How has this made your growth successful?
According to Jamie, their primary focus is ensuring workplace happiness and customer loyalty. So, instead of lateral growth, he works on the vertical growth of the current services to make them impeccable. This, he says, has taken Industrious to the top of the customer satisfaction list. Ryan agreed with Jamie on how the personal touch can be used to take coworking to the next level. John discussed how Serendipity Labs wants to unlock the full human potential through underscoring their purpose.
Mark discussed a contrarian opinion: avoiding competition. Office Evolution is focusing on markets that have not had the coworking experience yet. Instead of tech startups, their primary target is local attorneys, accountants, financial planners etc.
Q. Where do you see the opportunities for growth? Do you think demand is coming more from enterprises or start-ups? Is there certain product or service offering that you are focused on?
Mark explained that the advent of coworking spaces has caused a stir in the real estate business. There is now more pressure on providing flexible options. Moreover, operations have become more relationship-based. John added that consumerization of workplace is another driving force that needs to be reckoned. Coworking spaces, he said, are not competing amongst each other but rather the traditional workspace
Q. What are the things to remember while raising capital? What have you learned in the process?
Ryan, Mark, and John agreed on the importance of alignment with the investor base with the values of the company. Picking the right partner with the right intentions is crucial here. Jamie added how one of the secrets of effective fundraising is to start early.
Q. How have you thought about mitigating the risk?
John said that risk mitigation begins with the base structure of the company. According to Mark, small spaces and solid business owners are one of the optimum structures in risk mitigation. Jamie and John also added how service differentiation and keeping an eye on the margin can be useful.
Q. In terms of scaling quickly and growing, what are some of the challenges that you didn’t anticipate? What have you learned? What are some of the things that you have done that worked out really well?
The panel agreed on the importance of their unique culture in this aspect. Jamie discussed on how with the growth of a company, their set of principles expands too. He stressed that it is important to only absorb the values that unify them despite any differences.