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EXCLUSIVE: This Entrepreneur Built A $12M Company With A 100% Remote Team. Here’s How She Runs It

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A little while ago, we did a Q&A with an amazing entrepreneur who did what all great founders do: Get frustrated with a problem. Then solve it.

The way she did this was by creating a universal, truly global co-working operation — and one that’s now grown to $12M in value, world-class investor backing and a newly minted partnership with the co-working giant itself, WeWork.

If you recall, Great Briton Leanne Beesley built and launched Coworker.com in just three years. And she runs with a 100% remote team, all the while traveling the world.

(Just check her IG. It’s super lit.)

Well, we still have more beastly Beeesley gems to share.

In Part II of this interview, Leanne breaks down how she runs a fully remote team of 19 folks across 11 countries, the biggest mistake she made, and how one minor change changed everything about her business.

For the better. Enjoy.

How do you run your team?

We’re a fully remote/distributed team of 19 people spanning across 11 countries. As a startup founder, the biggest mistake I made during our first two years of Coworker was not delegating enough or focusing on the team.

Coming from a freelancer and solopreneur background—where your worth is based on your personal output—I was totally self absorbed in my own “busy work” and my inability to delegate was a massive bottleneck hindering our growth. I cringe now looking back at how inefficiently I used to run the team. Management and leadership were definitely my major weakness.

What changed?

In late 2017 I read “High Output Management” by former Intel CEO Andrew Grove. This book totally changed our trajectory and the way I run things.

As I read through it, it dawned on me that I had been so focused on my own personal output that I wasn’t even thinking about the output of my team members. But optimizing the collective output of the team would have a much bigger impact on our growth than my own singular output ever could. It was like a light-bulb went off in my head!

Then what happened?

The next day, I totally restructured the company and the way I run the team.

What was the first thing you changed?

Instead of trying to manage everyone myself, I identified which members of our team already demonstrated leadership qualities and moved them into senior leadership roles with other team members reporting into them.

Nice.

I also created extremely detailed job descriptions for everyone, with every responsibility clearly defined along with their KPIs outlined and a list of what they need to report on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. These get updated every quarter to reflect any changes in their role.

I implemented quarterly OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) which is the same goal setting framework used by Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and tons of other major companies. This made a big impact on our growth almost immediately.

What followed then?

I started sending a Monday update to the entire team to get them pumped up for the week. This includes a video where I answer any questions they submitted through the anonymous “Ask Leanne” Google Form each week.

Super dope! Why was that helpful?

As well as sharing our KPIs from the previous week and highlights of awesome stuff different team members worked on, it’s a great opportunity for me to reinforce the vision and mission on a regular basis!

These probably all sound like obvious things that I should have been doing from the beginning, but it took a major mindset shift for me to realize I needed to do them!

You’d be surprised. I guarantee you tons of people are going “Aha!” right now.

It seems like common sense in retrospect. How else can you run a team if you’re not delegating and tracking?

Which leads me to my next question. Project management. You run a remote team exclusively. You travel all over the world. How do you run your team?

When it comes to tools, we use Slack for internal team communications and Basecamp as a project management tool. We try to use email as little as possible; it’s such a productivity killer.

From a culture perspective, we definitely all have an entrepreneurial spirit. Many of our team members are former or current entrepreneurs, and were members of co-working spaces long before they joined Coworker.

For example our Community Manager, March Brenwall, owns her own ecommerce store – MarchFifth – selling fitness themed apparel and jewelry—which her team of VAs now manage since she joined Coworker—and has been traveling around the world for years working out of co-working spaces in Asia, Europe and North America.

Do you look for that when hiring, an entrepreneurial background?

I like hiring people who have had a slightly unconventional career path, especially if they’ve taught themselves skills and built things along the way. A history of proactivity and bias towards action are key indicators for whether someone will fit well into Coworker culture.

You guys have been offering a vehicle for smaller co-working companies to play on an even field with WeWork. But you recently cut a deal with them. Why?

When we first launched Coworker in 2015, we were focused on helping freelancers and solo entrepreneurs find co-working spaces. But as we grew, we noticed more and more companies were using Coworker to find offices for their teams.

The co-working industry is diversifying as it matures because demand is increasing for all types of flexible workspace. It’s similar to the way there are so many different types of hotels, from boutique design hotels to 5-star luxury resorts. People have unique needs and look for different things in a co-working space.

We realized that if we wanted Coworker to be the ultimate destination for finding & booking co-working spaces we needed to have the full range of co-working space inventory on the platform, allowing people to filter and choose whichever is right for them.

What’s been the reaction from previous partners?

A few independent co-working space managers emailed us to express their concern when WeWork joined Coworker in July [2018], but we’ve crunched the data and it really hasn’t affected their own conversion rates at all. WeWork has a very strong brand but Coworker is a level playing field.

The booking request conversion rate for co-working spaces with over 10 reviews is on average 487% higher than spaces with no reviews, and unlike on Google there are no PPC bidding wars to spiral marketing costs out of control if co-working spaces want to appear at the top of Coworker’s search results for their city.

Although we do have almost all the larger co-working space networks on Coworker, including WeWork, Tribes, Industrious, Spaces, IOS Offices, 91 Springboard, etc, these make up only 12% of the co-working spaces on Coworker.

88% of the 9200+ co-working spaces on Coworker are independent spaces so the majority of booking requests made are still to them.

In part III, Leanne breaks down her growth strategies, what lies ahead and her thoughts on the co-working industry as a whole.

ENTREPRENEURS

This Entrepreneur’s Led An IPO, ICO, And Actually Did What The McMahons Couldn’t. (Penetrate China.) Here’s How He Did It

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In the world of startups and entrepreneurships, you have a lot of talk, a lot of dreams, a lot of hype and — ultimately — a lot of disappointments.

But that’s life. It’s a small world. And it doesn’t take long to get found out if you’re not the real deal.

In this Q&A, however, we brought the heat.

David Chen is a Millennial entrepreneur with the experience of a Wall Street retiree.

Billion-dollar merger? Check.

Awards? Check.

Multiple startup exits? Check.

Successful ICO? Check that, too.

And perhaps, most impressively, Dave’s managed to do something even the McMahons of the WWE couldn’t — penetrate the Chinese market successfully.

In this Q&A, we ask him why entrepreneurs fail to raise money, even if they have a good idea (hint: ideas ain’t shit), the first thing you need to do, and, finally, what the best industries were.

Enjoy. 

Let’s get right to it. What’s the main thing stopping entrepreneurs from raising money?

Knowing their audience. You can’t assume that you know something and that it works at one region, but not the rest. It’s a relationship—and most of the times there aren’t relationships out there.

Secondly, you don’t approach someone in esports like you would in commercial. So my FaZe Clan pitch is different from my commloan pitch. 

When is the right time to raise money — and what’s the first thing an entrepreneur needs to do?

There is never a right time, there’s only a right project. Know all your answers, make it simple. If a 10-year-old doesn’t understand it, redo the pitch.

You’re on a number of boards of startups. What’s one you’re bullish on at the moment?

I love them all. Sharebert was named Forbes’ top 23 in tech innovation. Commloan has done over a billion in funding—and I’m a customer.

FaZe Clan is the largest esports team with 300M subscribers and 10B views last year. And Micamp 20/20 does the best credit card processing.

What’s the best startup play — or sector — right now?

Sharebert is a great startup play because the tech is there. The management team is there. The need is there. It’s just there.

FaZe Clan is great because they have the global market, viewership—and they’re different.

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W-key? Nah 📺 @cloakzy #Fortnite #FaZeUp

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What’s the next frontier for start up world.

I see China as the next market.

Why do you say that?

I say that because they have 44% of the world’s population. And if you don’t work with them it, they’ll just do it themselves.

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ENTREPRENEURS

How Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo Spends His Millions

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With a massive net worth that totals almost $400M, the 34-year old soccer player is also one of the richest sports stars in the world. With a string of deals, bonuses and endorsements coming his way, here’s how he spends his millions.

 

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ENTREPRENEURS

This Millennial Makes 6 Figures From Selling Other Peoples Stuff

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Check out how this 32-year-old, Mark Meyer, started his business with a $400 loan. He is now making six figures, by selling other peoples items on Ebay and Amazon. He mostly gets his inventory from police auctions, liquidations and abandoned storage sales.

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