Although there is no one-size-fits-all answer to growing a successful coworking space, there are certain key components that all thriving flexible workspaces have in common. In this blog post, we'll explore marketing strategies that helped Venture X, one of the fastest-growing coworking platforms in the world, branch out to 50 locations worldwide, including such countries as the USA, Canada, UK, Costa Rica, Dubai, Mexico, India, Spain, and Honduras. And as far as we know personally from Rubin Beckner, Venture X Director of Marketing, the franchise is not going to slow down its global expansion.
So, if you are looking for some guidance on how to take your coworking space into the major league, keep reading and you’ll get many tips, following which will ensure that your venture is on its way to giddy success!
Helga: When Venture X started in 2012 in Naples, South Florida, was there a bold growth plan already in place? Did you know that someday you will conquer the world?
Rubin: When David and Brett Diamond launched the first Venture X location, no one had ever seen anything like it in Naples Florida. Over the next 2 years the concept took off and the community grew to include 120 member companies.
The Diamond family initially explored using venture capital funding to help expand to other cities but ultimately settled on the franchise model as a way to scale the business fast but also bring in local ownership who care about supporting their local business community.
Helga: Could you share the top challenges of the company back in the day? How did you overcome them?
Rubin: Historically, the franchising model in coworking is one that many have tried and failed due to the complexities of standardization across vastly diverse spaces and markets. Finding the ideal design and amenity set; identifying quality vendors and lead sources; understanding the local demand and product awareness can be a moving target as you grow a coworking brand’s international footprint. As we expanded, we had to Identify what needed to be standardized vs what made sense to localize.
Helga: How did you attract members? What marketing tactics worked best?
Rubin: The local marketing strategy can vary across our locations. In a market with increased competition and a local populace seemingly more educated on the benefits of coworking, we focus on content marketing to highlight the differences between Venture X and the other brands they already may be familiar with.
In an emerging market where the term coworking is still somewhat unknown, then we focus our messaging on the hospitality, unique amenities and vibrant community that can’t be found with traditional office leasing options.
When it’s all said and done though, there must be a need for us to be able to fulfil it. No matter how proactive you want to be marketing wise in our industry, if someone doesn’t have an immediate need for flexible term workspaces, then you won’t be able to convert them. That is why we do focus a lot of our efforts on individuals actively displaying buying behaviors online. Consistent content and search engine marketing hold truest here.
Those looking to play the long game, we train on identifying what I call their local “business bottlenecks.” This strategy entails understanding the local ideal “buyer personas” then targeting whoever has the eyes and ears of our potential customers right before they have a need for new workspace solutions.
Helga: How did those challenges change with time and company growth?
Rubin: It’s always easier to act more nimbly at earlier stages but as you grow, for lack of a better way to put it, there are just more “irons in the fire.” Each new franchisee brings their own backgrounds and unique skillsets to the table. We try to find that perfect balance of structure but also open collaboration in order to take actionable value from the expertise each individual brings to the table. The Venture X owners look to our corporate team as the experts making sure they invest in the right areas which will ultimately generate profitable returns.
One of the biggest complexities with the franchise model, is that there is a lot more at stake. The individuals and families that make up our franchise owners group have a lot at stake personally so that adds a whole additional layer of pressure and responsibility to ensure we only take calculated risks.
Unlike other brands, we don’t have the same liberty and ability to make costly mistakes because at the end of the day we have a vested interest in ensuring that each individual franchisee is successful and profitable.
Helga: Is there any possibility for a huge coworking network to preserve the community vibe? How do you do it?
Rubin: Absolutely, I firmly believe that just as the past couple years has taught us that we don’t necessarily need to be in a corporate headquarters every day to be a productive, efficient employee and engaged team member; we also don’t have to be physically present to develop and preserve community.
One of the things that excites me most about this industry, is the recent influx of investment in areas to improve our technology when it comes to space management and member engagement. A lot of operators have been successful using social media groups or platforms like Slack to create engaged online virtual communities complimenting that of their physical spaces. With some of these new technological improvements on the horizon, I feel that more coworking operators will continue to untether their membership bases from the physical limitations of their current office real estate footprint.
Helga: What technology solutions help you manage your multinational business successfully?
Rubin: You can’t manage what you don’t measure. We moved forward with an official standalone CRM for Venture X last year and it has been the single best investment that added immediate value moving our brand forward. We’ve customized the CRM for our own needs and sales processes while developing it into our single source of truth and utilizing the data to make more calculated business decisions. Higher quality data collection has allowed us to pinpoint synergistic opportunities then train on the behaviors and daily tasks that we’ve seen generate the fastest returns in the past.
The lead flow and sales funnel reporting we get from our CRM also promotes collaboration across our locations as sales managers share what is working for them locally while celebrating each other’s successes. Seeing and sharing the success stories across our locations does wonders for those who are struggling making it more attainable for them psychologically. Success breeds more success, and this is a snowball effect we’ve seen firsthand that helps maintain momentum.
Helga: Could you share the key ingredients of Venture X's recipe for success?
Rubin: At Venture X we’re locally owned but internationally connected. We pull our resources together to collectively move the brand forward globally but still offer our franchisees some flexibility to run their business utilizing what makes the most sense for them locally.
In a lot of ways, we stay true to the original coworking model when it comes to having a local owner with “skin in the game” who truly cares about supporting the growth of their local business community. There is no substitute for this, and it can’t be faked or easily replicated from a standardization standpoint.
Helga: What could you advise coworking space operators that want to follow your way to the top?
Rubin: The top thing I feel I constantly have to remind folks is that even though we are in the business of offering flexible workspace solutions, we often forget to be flexible with how we operate, market, sell and support our local communities. If there was one truth path to success in the coworking industry then we would all undoubtedly follow that same playbook. Truth is no 2 journey’s are identical, learn what you can from others but be confident in your abilities to carve your own road to achievement
Hope you find this interview as useful and inspiring as we do. But don't just take Rubin's word for it – experiment with these tips yourself and see what works best for your shared workspace business. And if you want more advice from the man himself, be sure to follow him on LinkedIn. Thanks for reading!