Building the Ultimate Interface for Smart Spaces: spaceOS Interview

spaceOS is a tenant experience platform working with co-working spaces, building owners and directly with tenants. Our platform is used by dozens of spaces in 16 countries from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv.

What unique technology have you and your team noticed is trending in the coworking industry?

For coworking space the innovative wave happened some time ago, with meeting room software, booking systems, etc... Those solutions are well-established in the market, but I think the area where more coworking spaces are deciding to explore is access control. I don’t see it as a full trend just yet, but it will start.
The real revolution will occur when the industry starts using predictive analytics, using data gathered by platforms like spaceOS. Data can help you understand which of your tenants or members are “flight risks.” When you see the kind of interactions they have with the community, whether their complaints aren’t resolved quickly, if they pay more than other tenants or above the local average, when they perform below average as a business and other challenges, spaceOS allows capturing that data and providing actionable insight to reach out to these members in time to keep them.

What factors do you prioritize when helping to build a coworking space?

We give a new coworking space everything that we have, including membership plans, invoicing, and automated billing. These are the meat and potatoes, the core things that every space needs. Access control is also a great thing to have and we can integrate the majority of these systems into our platform. We also have some exciting things built around events and community-building. We offer a marketplace, where members can be connected to the gym, florist, barber, restaurant, cafe, whatever valuable services that are close by directly through the coworking space. It decreases long lines and creates a solid stream of revenue for the space.

It’s amazing how much members in a coworking space or tenants in an office building are limited by their immediate surroundings, and, say they need catering or flowers for an event, or perhaps there’s a company in the building whose services they could use, the spaceOS marketplace can facilitate those connections and make it easier for members to immediately become familiar with the community. You’d be surprised at how many missed opportunities happen between companies in the same building, or from local businesses that can help diversify the offerings of the space.

How has the implementation of technology influenced the profitability of coworking spaces?

I’d say this has happened in three ways:

  1. Cost-saving: Automation decreases menial jobs so the people you have [i.e. coworking staff] can focus on better things or more meaningful ways to satisfy members. Better technology means you need fewer people to run your space.
  2. Member attraction and retention: With technology like spaceOS, anything you do within the space becomes very pleasant, whether it’s booking a meeting room or ordering food and registering visitors. For member retention, the data you get from technology integrations is key. This is particularly important in coworking spaces where turnover can be high, as opposed to traditional real estate where leases are as long as 5 or 10 years.
  3. Marketplace revenue: As I mentioned before, our technology helps spaces create a marketplace where operators can capitalize on extra services. For example, we work with a space in Tel Aviv (called Mixer.Work), which is earning extra revenue in phone chargers, parking spaces, discounts at local restaurants, etc… through our marketplace feature. This technology allows operators to charge members for every transaction. This applies more to larger spaces that have the variety and outreach to support this. In a space of 300+ people, the marketplace aspect becomes very attractive because it adds convenience and addresses many obstacles for the end-user.

Have you noticed a difference in revenue for the property owner when installing a new coworking space?

We see that introducing marketplace and using revenue share can increase the revenue per square foot by 5-20%, but it depends on the variety of F&B in the area. Members want to be connected to all the choices available and spaceOS helps to put everything at the members’ fingertips. On top of that, the ability to attract members and to keep them longer is crucial to increased profitability.

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When you partnered with New Lab, what was the process like to understand their needs and streamline the tenant experience?

NewLab was a different case, they were our first client. spaceOS was very much built around New Lab’s needs and started as more of a project than a product. We still have a very close partnership today. The space is often involved in helping us outline and test new features. Whenever we do something new they are the first ones to get it and they are immensely helpful with comments, including for our module that allows you to book machines, classes, and automated operation, that’s something that you don’t find anywhere else.

But in general, when a new client approaches us now, we start with a demo, then we look for the gaps between what we have and their ideal solution to operate that space effectively. We also have a deployment form that clients fill so we can launch quickly with their specific needs in mind.

We also offer white labeling, where every application is branded as the client needs it. We use a modular solution that we can tailor for every space. spaceOS is very good at focusing on events, community, marketplace applications, and deciding which modules will be turned on for the easiest access. White-labelling is really important for coworking spaces to build their brand. When members go to the Google Play or Apple App stores, it’s important that clients see the coworking app, not spaceOS. For managers, when you use a generic, Slack-type solution it’s not really your brand that’s growing. In office buildings this aspect really becomes the landlord’s face towards the tenants, where before there was little to no communication or relationship between the tenants and landlords in traditional commercial real estate. And in the case of UI where employees are using an internal app or platform, usability is also key.

Do you think full-stack software solutions for coworking spaces are becoming commonplace, and if so, where does spaceOS fit into that trend?

It makes more sense for the space to pay one bill for a platform that gives you an all-in-one solution. For end-users, you just want one app to minimize the number of steps it takes to complete small tasks.

What integrations are the most important to consider when building a native coworking app?

Hubspot, Zendesk, Stripe, access control, a good CRM and accounting platform are the most important things I would recommend. With access control, it makes the operation much easier, and the IT team doesn’t have to worry about people losing cards or keys. People are much less likely to forget their phone so mobile access control is a great option that a lot of spaces are turning to. Also, there’s no need to keep reception open 24/7. Monitoring how many people you have inside the space at different times is key. Access control can help decide how long reception should be open, when your members like to arrive, and can help you determine whether you could put more people in a particular space. In terms of learning more about space utilization, It’s more useful if you combine access control with spaceOS to understand bookings and member habits.

Smart buildings, or offices and flexible workspaces that implement smart technology, are revolutionizing traditional office buildings and tenant interactions. What do you think owners and operators should consider to reach ‘smart building status’?

There’s a lot of exciting things happening in real estate right now.

I see smart buildings as places that incorporate technology where they can plug a variety of building systems into it. Where the smartphone really becomes a remote control for the building and both tenants and owners are encouraged to interact more with the local community. A Kisi study showed that 37% of what keeps members in a space is close ties to the local community. The typical landlord is pretty clueless in terms of energy usage, the types of cars coming into the parking garage, issues around food availability in the area, nearby parking. Coworking has changed this toward a top-down solution and spaceOS adds a human layer of data for operating the building and solving these pain points on both sides. We have a bunch of sustainability integrations on the roadmap in the coming year, like lighting and HVAC.

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