How to Grow Your Coworking Members: Quality Over Quantity
Jeran Fraser, Founder and CEO at Incubate Ventures Inc. shares with us how they built an innovation-centered coworking space by focusing on quality members instead of mainstream marketing.
Incubate Ventures started in Carlsbad, CA in 2015 to provide more than just a space for entrepreneurs and startups. Incubate started with a network of investors and an idea of providing office space, along with services and capital. In 2017 Incubate opened a much larger space, giving several companies the opportunity to network and connect with other like-minded individuals.
Setting up a Coworking Space Without Marketing
The space quickly grew without marketing simply because the idea behind building Incubate Ventures was less focused on quantity and more focused on quality. "We didn't want Incubate to act as a coworking space." "We wanted our space to grow organically" and "ultimately we were focused on the deal flow in the space, not how many butts we could get in the chairs."
This became a huge differentiator, as nearly all our competitors put the focus on real estate and not the ideas and network. Their current office in Carlsbad happens to be the former music studio of Tom Delonge from Blink182 and there's a ton of history there. "One thing you can't replicate is character," says Jeran.
Focusing on Quality Members and Technology Helps a Business Scale
As someone super passionate about startups, the goal of building out a cowork space was to bring to companies together and ultimately provide an opportunity for us to look at potential investments and launch new ideas. Community first has been our focus and that's how anyone opening a coworking space should view the business.
Our tenants are vetted through a unique process to assure they are a great fit for the space. As much as every tenant equates to revenue our goal is high retention among our tenants, which is important as we scale and grow. We also believe that technology plays a key role in building and maintaining that community, which is why Incubate is constantly focusing on evolving with technology.
Challenges Faced Building a Coworking Space
It's always been a dream to build a cowork space, but the truth is until you've actually done it, it's hard to really understand the challenges that go with it. You're dealing with emotions and not one, but many. You're also responsible for making sure that every aspect of the space is running smoothly, from internet to printer to attitudes. It's definitely no easy job, but thankfully there's a few pieces of technology we've relied upon to make our job that much easier.
One of the biggest problems we had early on was keeping the door locked and unlocked. Today we've built a very unique system with KISI to allow for our doors to only be open when there's people in the space, which ultimately provides a huge layer of security. We've also leveraged other technology that integrates directly with KISI and the Incubate community. With several layers of technology in place, Incubate Ventures has found a way to scale their business using technology that removes some of the operational challenges that most coworking spaces face and KISI has become a big part of that.