With the continued global trends, the CoWorking industry is revolutionizing the way we do business today, by uniting or linking technology – the virtual world – with physical space – the real world. In San Antonio it requires a lot more work for this industry to flourish as it is doing in other cities around the world.
According to the San Antonio Business Journal in an article published in January 2016, there are less than 10 brands in this market and at least 4 have closed since then and I only know one that has been successful without having a sponsor supporting it, that being because it is either not paying rent or because it receives grants or some economic stimulus to be able to survive.
So the question is, is San Antonio not ready for this trend? or rather is this trend too advanced for San Antonio?
I have been fortunate enough to visualize VenturePoint since I opened the first location on April 2nd 2008, which was then called the Huebner Business Center. I have been in this Industry for 10 years learning day by day, accumulating experience and in a very difficult town for CoWorking. There have even been consultants who have told me that I am in the right business but in the wrong city.Maybe they are right, but my father always taught me, you have to be successful with the tools and assets you have at this time.
The challenge is that San Antonio besides his unique business culture is a town whose main industries are Military, Hospitality and Medical and thanks to them and economic factors such as: the salary is below the national average which makes the growth in these sectors pull others like construction and then this in turn, develops other industries such as landscaping, plumbing, real estate, etc. which are very prosperous in San Antonio, not to mention, if there is something that can be left to Texas …. It is land.
This makes the landlords lazy and they do not think about new business models because they do not want to break the status quo of their industry and because they are still in their comfort zone.
However, global statistics show that 90% of companies fail in less than 2 years, meaning that the odds of a company surviving 24 months are only 10%, in short, 1 out of every 10 will survive. This fact makes no congruence when landlords insist on putting pressure on future tenants to sign rigid 3 to 5 year contracts. Seems to make no sense. Sooner or later this model will have to change.
Nowadays the office spaces have become more difficult to fill because technology is a major factor that influences the way of doing business because to develop a business, it only needs:
1.- The brain of the entrepreneur.
2.- One device, SmartPhone or LapTop; Which by the way every day are becoming cheaper and more accessible.
3.- Internet access; Every day it’s cheaper and more accessible.
4.- Cloud; Every day it’s cheaper and more accessible.
5.- A place to work; I do not know if we can say the same, is it becoming cheaper and more accessible and more flexible?
Small work teams or small businesses will continue to dominate this complex environment, where new buzzwords such as disruption and serendipity are part of today’s business vocabulary (maybe some do not even know what they mean but it sounds cool!) Technology has been in charge of accelerating and making this environment more complex, as it is growing exponentially; But not our knowledge so much, making it therefore the most complex of the environment.
This is how in this environment, efficiency becomes the goal of all entrepreneurs whereas, in my day, the goal was to ‘Sell more and spend less’ which is why efficiency is becoming the main problem of companies today. If you are not efficient, you are not going to survive.
That said; The solution to this current situation can only be achieved through adaptability to this environment, breaking the traditional systems after all, it is very clear that companies today are either fast or dead.
But how can we adapt that vertiginous change that the world and technology is imposing on us?
Firstly, wake up and know that the comfort zone you are living in gets shorter or smaller with each day that passes by, secondly, learn to embrace risk and live each day as it comes and thirdly, learn to be very flexible with your philosophy of life.
Although I know that the human being has never been able to see the future clearly it is true that for over 100 years, landlords have been very concerned about connecting squarefeet with walls and furniture but not with people. That is, how we use that space. According to GWA statistics, more than 40% of the working time a desk is empty and yet real estate charges 100% of the time. The jobs and the way of working have changed radically and we can not even talk about a balance between our personal time and the professional time as it was in the 70’s and 80’s. That line that divided them has become more blurred achieving rather an integration of our professional and personal life.
This means that landlords continue to develop business models like over 100 years ago. Time will eventually catch up to us and we will have to make quick and hasty decisions putting real estate companies at risk when they are supposed to be looking for less risk and it turns out that in the end, they will fall into a worse situation if they do not decide to change.
The message is to try and make the real estate industry more flexible, seek to adapt to these changes as soon as possible and the only precise way is to incorporate technology into office space to achieve the flexibility that the user currently requires.
It is like the conference space that only leases simply the space and does not have the basic technology for AV, nor a coffee service, what is it like? What you are looking for is the comfort of just plug and play, have your meeting, finish and go to the next thing in your personal life but not having to carry cables, screen, coffee maker, coordinate food, etc.
Or the simple office space without furniture and without services. Entrepreneurs seek to have immediate access to the space with internet service, a furniture system that adapts to their needs quickly, an AV system is always available, a cleaning service at your disposal, ahhh and finally that you are not tied to a 5 year contract, in fact in our 10 years, we know that 55% of our contracts are 6 months indicating that customers are looking for short terms .
This is why office spaces should include services and be much more flexible. It is all about the person, hence the term office space as a service, and hence the term pay as you stay.
While looking for this efficiency, it needs to be taken into account the time it takes each person to telecommute either to reach the workplace or to get to a business meeting since only 64% of people prefer to collaborate in Person vs 19% by email and only 8% by phone.
VenturePoint conducted a market survey in San Antonio in 2014 among 114 executives where we discovered that 78% of people who meet to have meetings, 1 to 1, or face to face, do it outside their own territory, ie outside Of your workplace and of that 78% 70% did it at a Starbucks.
Then in 2015 we did another study to the same group inquiring why at Starbucks? And the results of the 5 questions lead to a single answer; Convenience.
That is why VenturePoint is oriented to offer the market a professional alternative to meetings in the cafe’s, seeking to open more locations in San Antonio to be as convenient as possible for our customers and to offer the link between the real world and the virtual world for the mobile entrepreneurs.
We have the technology, the market platform and the necessary assets to be able to cover the need of doing business and be a great solution with the landlords.