26. Mike LaRosa and 2016 Coworking Trends Report

Welcome to episode #26 of the Everything Coworking Podcast!

Welcome to the Everything Coworking Podcast #26! Today I spoke with Mike LaRosa who is the founder and publisher of Coworkaholic.  We are doing our 2nd annual 2016 trend report. Mike is reporting from Bali where he is helping out with the Coworking Unconference Asia (GCUC) which is happening February 24-28, 2016.  We are actually not going to talk about the conference today. Coworkaholic and Deskmag just issued a 2016 Coworking Trends Report based on data they received from a survey they received in the fall, but Mike was in charge of the trend part of the report.

Enjoy our conversation!

Joint venture partnerships are set to phase out traditional leases; tell us about what that means in the marketplace: You and I have been chatting about this for probably for about a year now.  Your friend, Benjamin Dyett from Grind is kind of the poster child right now for what this partnership looks like. He hosted a webinar with you for LEXC talking about how he will never sign another traditional lease again.  I think what we are starting to see is that the real estate community is starting to learn more about coworking. Grind has an amazing partnership with Verizon now. Verizon is the equity holder.  They were sitting on all this real estate not knowing what to do with it.  They researched coworking and realized that this is a long term trend that they can invest in, but they know that they are not experts in it. So they brought the Grind in to help manage it on their behalf.

Hybridization and specialization.  What does that mean:  This is a phrase that I, when first heard it, came from Melissa Saubers from Cowork Waldo in Kansas City. Hybridization is basically the spaces that are diversified. Focusing on alternative markets, so it is more than just someone looking for workspace, it is creating a space that has combined purposes, like childcare and coworking, or recording studios and coworking.  Workspace as a service.

Software as a community management platform. Tell us about this one:  As an industry we are still so very young. The first iteration of software was kind of patchwork of google apps and a facebook group and some type of credit card processing company. Then the next step, Cobot was viewed as the original software platform.  Well, there are two new players.  Nexudus and Hubcreate that are viewing software as an overall platform. Billing, I think people always think that was the priority. Billing is actually now the least important task. These space owners are starting to realize that they really need a diverse set of tools to run their businesses.  You need a CRM to manage prospects and leads.  You do need the billing to process your payments, but you need an email platform to do your marketing. You need to access a control system to manage the physical space, room bookings and scheduling.  I’ve had the opportunity to speak with both Claire, Luke, the COO of Hubcreate, and Adrian, the cofounder of Nexudus. They’ve designed their software to offer everything to a space owner, and they’ve done so by building an environment.

What do you think will happen to smaller spaces that may not be choosing to adopt some of these platforms:  I think there is always going to be a market for the do-it-yourself crowd.  But, I think that as the industry evolves, grows, and matures that a lot of these independent owners...and don’t forget over 90% of the industry is still made up of these independent owners.  I think that Nexudus and Hubcreate and some of these new tools are really going to give them a leg up because not everyone has the millions of dollars that WeWork has to develop. WeWork has a phenomenal digital portal. You can connect with all the different members with any WeWork space.  The app is sleek, it works well, it’s easy to use, and it includes the networking aspect with the bookings and registrations. That’s going to become the standard and I think independent owners need to really embrace and use these platforms to help them compete.

New marketing opportunities for space owners. How to integrate new revenue strings: There is a company based in North Carolina called CoActivate Network.  It was founded by Craig McAnsh who is also the founder of Mojo Coworking. Craig comes from the sponsorship live event experiential marketing world. When he decided to start his own agency, he couldn’t find a place to work, which led him to coworking,  he ended up buying a building, opening up his space to share with his agency and that’s when he was inspired to opportunities to bring marketing interactions and activities to these spaces. But the challenge is sponsorship, how do you get the revenue to support these coworking spaces?  Corporations are starting to approach coworking spaces, they can market by being present in the space and also market coworking spaces to their own customer base.  

If a space wants to become a part of the CoActivate Network, how does that work: You just go to Co-activate.com to sign up.  It’s totally free to join.  There’s an option to be in the running to be considered for a paid activation. There’s another whole list of benefits that we’re starting to gather.

The rise of nomadism: This was a trend that the core team went back and forth on whether or not it was a trend or not. We ultimately decided to push it to the yes column because towards the end of the year we got press releases and notifications from like four new companies that are specifically focusing on not just for the nomadism, but for families. There’s a whole market out there, but of course there’s this whole facebook community full of digital nomads that, it’s a real active community. They’re sharing, their collaborating. There is a new company called nomadica. They’re developing products just for families who are digital nomads.  The numbers we have in the survey results, 15% of coworking members have now worked in more than one space. That’s an increase of 9% from just two years ago.

Coworkcations.  What is that? Over the past year we have heard or learned about over 15 different programs or events.  They have been built and marketed as a thousand different things.  CoWork the world, copass camp, coworking camp.  The idea is that rather than just going somewhere for two weeks, or going somewhere for week because you might only get two weeks vacation.  For those that have more time the idea is to go to a destination that has a coworking space you can hang out for 3, 4 or 5 weeks and really enjoy yourself while kind of finding that ultimate coworking-living balance.  

Where can we find you online? You can always visit us at Coworkaholic for more information.  

Resources from this podcast:

Thank You for Listening!

Thank you for taking time to listen to the show!  Know someone that could benefit from the Everything Coworking podcast? Use our share buttons to pass it along!

If you enjoyed the podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. It’s the best way to help others find our content!

Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to get automatic updates!

PodcastJamie Russo