We were super happy to join LexC – the league of extraordinary coworking spaces at their annual gathering in Dallas last week. Here’s our summary of what we heard and talked about. A big thanks to all the organizers especially to Nick Clark, Jerome Chang andKaren McGrath!
Creating a unique culture
Creating a unique culture for vastly different cities is a challenge every co-working owner has to face. Organizations like WeWork try rolling out a uniform culture across the world which might not be the most sustainable model. Looking at failures in the tech space like Uber in Europe or Asia we see why that could lead to problems down the line. During conversations with the space owners, they pointed out that US cities are so different that individual cultures have to be taken into account and paid tribute to. It is noteworthy that in a lot of smaller cities, coworking spaces are the “ Google” or “ Apple” – essentially the tech hub. If people think of local tech, they would think of that coworking space first. So often they have a thought leadership role and they need to build their brand based on that.
A good example for unique, local culture: Bacon bagels in Dallas!
Coworking tools are limited
What we heard is that coworking tools are limited and space operators are increasingly looking at business tools to manage their space. Here are some examples we pointed out earlier. One owner, for example, said that coworking accounting tools often feel like they are built by engineers, not accountants. What owners and operators need are easy to use, simplified enterprise tools. Many of them have business or finance backgrounds, so they expect a certain degree of analytics and customization. Since there is a lot of noise in the industry, they’d rather establish strong partnerships than screening out vendors and constantly compare what’s out there.
Tour through the common desk in Dallas
Coworking vendors are becoming partners
We talked about a lot of different things, from how to purchase and run a building to advising growing companies – coworking owners are entrepreneurs at heart. A big issue that a lot of people are seeing while running these spaces is the breadth of tools that are out there, and the lack of a central platform to be the operational hub. It’s time intensive to evaluate, and nobody wants to be a guinea pig testing out a new product. The community would like strong vendor partners in the ecosystem that are responsive to feedback and cognizant of their particular needs.
Notable partners of the industry include:
- Liquidspace: Help building owners to build out workspace
- Xtracom: Affordable VOIP telephony
- Legal zoom: Affordable legal care
- Kisi – simple on-demand door access
obviously there are many more vendors, check this list for more exhaustive data!
Thanks again for letting us take part in this and looking forward to what’s ahead!