andcards Interview: Software Built By Coworkers For Coworkers
Walking into a coworking space, the average person doesn’t usually see the multiple layers of technology and organization involved to keep the business running. Most people see a few seating areas, desks, a kitchen, and lots of power outlets. However, by just asking a few questions of the managers and operators, the complex needs of a coworking space quickly come to light. That’s what Igor Dzhebyan, CEO and co-founder of andcards coworking software, did with his business partner a few years ago. In this interview, Igor gives us an inside look at the building blocks of a coworking space, what managers and operators really need to succeed in the industry, and how his discoveries as a coworking member led him and his team to produce a powerful coworking management software.
What inspired you and your team to make your own coworking management platform?
Me and my business partner both have a background working in large corporations. We started working on a startup project and went to a coworking space to work. We realized how much value they have with all of their services. We talked to the manager and owners of the space and found out that there are still a lot of pains and not a lot of knowledge on the best and easiest way to run a space. After many conversations, we realized that they struggle with organizing their services and presenting them to members in a user-friendly way. As members of a coworking space, we wanted to discover coworking space services easily.
Today, andcards exists to find the BEST way to manage and use a coworking space. We want people to love their workspaces, and we don’t think it’s necessary for our apps to be packed with features. Instead, we focus on what we do best: finding and booking services, and integrate with a multitude of 3rd-party services for everything else.
Did you have experience in the coworking world before? Have you ever consulted for coworking spaces?
Originally the managers consulted us! We learned from them about the operation from the inside. I would spend days next to a community manager just shadowing them and asking questions. Now we reversed it and we can actually tell them what the most efficient ways to implement tools are.
In terms of functionality, what are the most important software tools for a coworking owner or manager to have to run their space?
We see a trend in software specialization. In any industry, people start to use more specialized tools the farther they go and the more they expand. Communication (Mailchimp or Intercom), member portal (coworking software like andcards), payment systems (Stripe or PayPal) and access control are all very important tools to boost efficiency and automate/integrate various solutions. The reality is that coworking spaces use dozens of services, and what they need is a digital platform to integrate them all into an easily discoverable services hub.
As a fairly new platform on the market, what trends have you seen in the coworking industry to prompt making your own software?
Traditional offices want to have a more flexible and collaborative working culture. More companies are moving to flexible workspaces, not just freelancers and travelers, so we saw a huge opportunity there when we started. We also notice that when you buy a coworking membership, you get more than just a desk, but a bunch of services—everything from accounting, legal support, software perks, and more. We see coworking spaces as a professional success platform, not just rooms and desks.
Where do you think the coworking industry is going in the next few years?
Everybody knows the industry is moving more towards serviced offices as opposed to just hot desks. We believe the coworking is unstoppable. At the same time, the overall success of the industry depends on the market-leading companies and their health. Additional value-added services are what separates the coworking spaces from traditional offices, and defines their ultimate success. When a space builds a catalog of services, those are hard relationships to replicate. Value-added services are what really turn an average coworking space into a professional success platform, creating an immense value for the next-generation workers.
Does andcards specialize in certain types of coworking spaces or can the software be applied to other businesses?
andcards is best for small and medium-sized coworking space networks. For coworking spaces that are starting to think about their brand, we offer a seamless multi-location experience and whitelabel apps. We also find flexible offices that need a simple solution for booking meeting space and value-added services. What they all have in common is the vision of becoming a professional success platform and understanding that technology is crucial in their evolution. In the future every office will have an app that will bring them from an old-school office to a modern space.
What differentiates andcards from the other coworking management platforms out there?
People choose andcards because we aren’t trying to build a product that has every single feature out there. Rather, we build integrations and allow coworking spaces to assemble a single entry point for all their value-added services, whether they’re built by us or 3rd parties. Why should we offer coworkers a subpar newsfeed experience, if we could integrate with a market-leading tools like Facebook Groups?
We take that focus beyond desktop screens into a mobile territory. Our mobile apps follow native platform design standards, significantly reducing the learning curve and friction to use them—it looks and feels like the technology they are already using.
In summary, our focus on value-added services and mobility create a flexible mix of services that could catalyze coworking space growth.
What goal does andcards aim to accomplish in terms of member experience?
Our main goal is to reduce the friction of using space, eliminate every pain point. For example, after adopting andcards, one coworking space in South Korea almost doubled their benefit application rate. The space offers amazing benefits targeting designers, tech professionals, and developers, but few people were applying for these services either from lack of knowledge or lack of convenience.
How does andcards stay in tune with coworking space owners and what they’re business needs are?
Our company is 100 percent remote. Everybody on our team works from coworking spaces and we all establish very close relationships with the community manager and are constantly shifting to new spaces. We live our vision of how a perfect workspace should be by allowing all the value-added services to live in the pocket of members and managers.