Greenpoint Coworking is a coworking space based in Greenpoint South Africa and was founded in July of 2016 by Erik Brits and his wife Rudelee. Together they have given the coworking space a fresh approach.
Erik is very educated, having attained degrees in Physics, Astrophysics and Economics. After completing his studies, he entered a startup competition where he did fantastically and won! He spent a year chasing this dream, but decided to call it quits and focus his attention elsewhere. From there, he moved into the tourism industry and wrote an online guide about tourism in South Africa.
After a few years and numerous failed ventures in the tourism industry, and after having spent 4 years working on these ventures from home, he decided he needed to be among people again. He needed their input and interaction to stay sane and for inspiration. So, he reached out to coworking spaces in the area and realized they were all fully booked, he took it as a sign and resorted to working from home for another 6 months. During this time, he was speaking to his wife Rudelee about the possibility of opening their own coworking space and once his wife graduated they made the jump to start their own space.
They chose the current location of Greenpoint Coworking because of the vibe. The walls were painted 7 different colors, the building was old and had great character, but with this came challenges. The layout was not ideal and was, thus, not optimized for a shared space. So, after 10 months at the current location, they will be moving into a better suited space just up the road.
Erik is fantastic at networking and has really worked hard at these connections to ensure they are always busy. Their main member demographic at this stage are digital nomads and Erik finds their busiest time to be related to season. This is due to the fact that Greenpoint Coworking is very close to Cape Town Harbor, gorgeous beaches, a fantastic nightlife and a number of attractions like Table Mountain.
There are also quite a few members who work for international companies as nomadic or remote workers. There has also been interest from local companies looking to run their logistics from Greenpoint Coworking.
Erik also mentions that he is very involved with other coworking spaces in the area. With them having frequent meetings and having open, honest and transparent conversations about what they do, their challenges, learnings and upcoming ideas and events. He loves that the coworking founders in the area are so open to having these kinds of conversations. “We’re very much for this kind of information share, we’d rather have a smaller piece of something big, than own the little piece we currently have.”
Erik also loves getting involved with his members. His history in tourism gives him the unique opportunity to educate the digital nomads and share his vast knowledge of where to go and what to do during their stay in South Africa. He has even taken some of his international members camping and on road trips, showing them some of the things South Africans take for granted.
He speaks of one such event when he took a group of nomads on a drive through the Tankwa Karoo National Park. He mentions that he was driving and in the passing, saw a Springbuck and instead of stopping just mentioned it to everyone, not realizing that it’s a rare sight for international visitors. He’s found a renewed love for the country because of this.
This is definitely one of the unique selling points for Greenpoint Coworking. Erik also speaks of being human, being able to provide an in-depth knowledge of local service providers and being able to refer people to where they need to go. He loves interacting with his members and chatting to them, being a friendly face a support system for the members.
His biggest challenges have been things like educating the Cape Town market as to what a coworking space is and showing them that a coworking space is so much cheaper than renting a small office for only a few workers. However, there’s been some resistance from the locals to give coworking a try.
His advice for people looking to join a coworking space is to come and try it. Spend a day at a coworking space and see if it’s what you’re looking for. Each space has its own vibe and way of doing things, sights, smells and things to do. Consider these things when looking for a coworking space and make sure all your boxes are ticked before you jump in.
Erik says that the biggest reason why he thinks coworking is such an amazing concept is because of community. You don’t buy into a desk, or fast internet or free coffee. You buy into the community. The type of people you will be surrounded by and what you can learn from them. He also says that the biggest thing is to fully take advantage of the human component. Put yourself out there and let people get to know you. They want to get to know you!