A couple of years back, SharedDesks’ Co-Founder, Enrico Icardi conceived an idea of a platform that could help nomads like himself easily find coworking spaces. Although, at the time, the coworking movement was still in its infancy, and his idea was still taking shape.Fast forward to 2011, and dozens of sketches later- with the help of Dario & Ale (SD’s Designers) SharedDesks’ initial mockups were drafted and Enrico & Javier started database sketches. Although the project, was moving along- there was still a lack of clarity on what users and coworking spaces actually wanted- so they devoted most of their time talking to people, and businesses – to get the insights needed to build a viable product.
In February of 2011 they participated in a startup program in Italy- which was partly an opportunity for them to get feedback from the competition, and partly an opportunity to network with the startup community. Then they drafted a short business plan, which was basically an overview of the vision for SharedDesks at that time. Enrico says,
“We didn’t win the competition, but we received plenty of great feedback, which, in my opinion, really strengthened our commitment to the project. Later that year Kia joined the team as CEO, to lead the business initiatives for SharedDesks and help develop the idea a bit further. “
Team ShareDesks talks to Startups.fm on their coworking space discovery plaform.
How has SharedDesks changing the way people used to work?
To answer this question, first we should look at how coworking is changing the way people work. Every day people are finding opportunities and efficiencies in working in more open and collaborative settings around the world, which is providing opportunities for entrepreneurs and nomad workers that we’re not common in the past.
How are you helping coworking space owners and managers?
How SharedDesks is contributing to this movement is by provinding a global marketplace for shared offices and workspaces. SharedDesks provide a platform for space owners and managers to monetize their idle capacity, and for people to discover and book them instantly, on flexible terms. Since day one, we focused on value creation, and spent countless hours thinking about how we can make this connection smoother. What are the needs of the business travelers and mobile workers? And how we can build SharedDesks to be practical and as frictionless as possible. To know what this really means in application- you’ll have to wait for our beta launch, which is just around the corner.
Finally, the coworking movement is bringing a lot of changes in the everyday lives of many people and we are committed to actively promote coworking, and the sharing economy in general- to spread the word the best we can.
Do you intend to keep ‘listing coworking spaces’ on SharedDesks Free?
Yes, absolutely. We are launching a super-stealth, super-awesome booking application, and we will take a fee for the transactions that take place on our platform. Listing your shared office, or coworking space on our site is, and will always remain, free on SharedDesks.
We are also thinking about implementing an additional layer shortly, with additional features that will make everything even more awesome- and if I could be any more specific, I would.
Why do you think that Coworking helps startups?
- To be part of a greater community
- To help the world move towards a more collaborative and efficient future
- Be more productive in your professional life.
I’d like to use Italy as an example, as the backbone of the Italian economy is the small businesses (there are 4,335,448 of them, which accounts for 99.9% of the total).
Now, if you want to start a business and you need an office, you are going to spend at least 1000€ only for the rent, and then you have additional expenses such as Internet connection, heating, telephone, electricity. Plus, you have to buy the furniture, which is, to be conservative, at least another 1000€, and then you have to pay the deposit (which is usually twice or three times the monthly rent) and you have to pay the agency fee (which is usually equal to two months’ rent). So, you end up having something approximately 1,500€ of fixed monthly costs and at least 5,000€ in upfront costs, just to get started.
Alternatively, If you decide to join a coworking space, you will not have any of the legal headaches (contracts, setting up telephone lines ecc.), or upfront expenses to pay, and will avoid having to pay many of the monthly expenses associated with operational costs. Instead, with just one monthly rate will take care of everything, and the best part is the flexibility it offers. I know that it’s not very “poetic”, but I think that Coworking can answer one of toughest question that a startup entrepreneur might ask: how much money do I need to invest to startup a company?
Coworking lowers the risk for new businesses, and can help existing SMEs be more efficient.
Then of course there are a lot of indirect advantages. Networking is probably one of the most important: having the possibility to work side by side with other professionals is always a good thing, even better if they operate in a different sector than your. It’s something that can sparkle unexpected collaborations and synergies.
Please don’t discount the “happiness” factor: it looks like working along with many people (for smaller companies) and/or in a less formal environment (for bigger companies), makes people happier.
How do you think Coworking is paving the way to a “Shared Economy”?
First of all coworking brings the “sharing” concept in the workspace, a place that is usually connected with the idea of selfishness and subordination. Then, coworking enables people to share on various levels.
Superficially it just allows people to share a space where getting their daily job done. But in a coworking space, you also share various amenities such as printers, faxes, coffee machines, and of course, there can be much much more. In fact, the most valuable thing you can share is your expertise, your skill and knowledge.
There are a number of coworking spaces that adopted a “social currency”: if you are an accountant you can help somebody with his/her taxes, by doing so you gain some social credit, which you can either spend in services offered by the coworking structure, or with other members.
How much does ShareDesk emphasize on better UI?
Nowadays we are flooded by information. And we need to spend much of our precious time on applications that ask us to compile forms and input a lot of data.
We want to be engaged on both fronts: collecting the information and displaying it.
On one side, provide an easy, smooth and complete way to list your space, with all the information you need to represent its offer. It’s challenging, because there’s a lot of information (prices, different plans/memberships and so on), and often “completeness” and “ease-of-use” are leading in two opposite direction. We don’t want our users to spend their time typing stuff in our application to fill out their profiles, but at the same time we want their profile to be as complete as possible.
Some deep changes we made recently to our user interface in the pricing and amenities sections are exactly aimed to address these issues.
On the other side, we are trying to find a way to showcase these tons of information in the most accessible and user-centric way:
Find what you’re looking for in a snap, and if you don’t know exactly what are you looking for then we are willing to give you a quick way to understand what a city or neighborhood is offering in terms of coworking and shared offices.
We are making huge changes to the search functionality, which will be live in our beta launch, to address these unmet needs.
Name your cool gang!
Here’s a snapshot of SharedDesks’ core team:
- Kia Rahmani – CEO
- Enrico Icardi – COO
- Javier Jiménez – CTO
- Dario Aschero – Design Lead
- Alessandro Valsania – UX/UI Lead
- Enrico Cassinelli (myself) – Community Lead
Any surprises from SharedDesks?
The last improvements, as said above, were made to the Amenities and Pricing sections. Now, all the development is focused on the new beta version: a totally revamped UI, new logo, a much much improved search, and a whole lot of new features.
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