According to various reports, the number of global co-working spaces is expected to grow from 14,411 in 2017 to over 30,000 in 2022.
We all heard of WeWork, the most “hyped startup in the world.”
Contrary to popular belief, WeWork isn’t the creator of an industry, they’re merely a market leader.
Below the surface of the all-encompassing WeWork, other players have emerged, looking to take a slice of the multi-billion dollar pie.
One of them is Coworker.com, built by Millennial wunderkind Leanne Beesley.
Since launching in 2015, Leanne’s built a $12M company, sold out her seed round in record time, and is now running a 19-man remote team looking to make a dent in the gazillion dollar co-working market.
Here’s her story.
How did Coworker come about?
I started Coworker to solve my own problem.
Yes, do tell?
Back in 2012 when I started working on my own e-commerce projects, I didn’t know co-working spaces existed. I worked alone from coffee shops every day. And even though I loved the freedom of working independently, I hated how isolated it made me feel.
Almost every day I’d need to change coffee shops at least once due to WiFi instability, crying babies or a dubious choices of background music — the moment 80’s pop creeps onto the playlist, I’m outta there. (Laughs.)
What did you do?
So when I finally discovered co-working spaces in 2013, it was like a ‘come to Jesus’ moment! Suddenly I found myself surrounded by a community of awesome people who were all working on interesting projects. The WiFi was stable, the decor was cool, they held meetups and events where I made tons of new friends, and most importantly, I finally had a place that I was excited to wake up and go to in the mornings.
But then in mid 2015, I moved to Hong Kong for two months and needed to find a new co-working space. So I turned to Google, expecting it to be a relatively simple process.
I guess that didn’t help?
It didn’t. I wasted almost a week sifting through 50+ websites of individual co-working spaces and reading blog posts, trying to figure out which one had the kind of people and atmosphere I wanted. Eventually, a friend recommended a co-working space she was a member of. It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.
I sense a “but” coming here…?
They didn’t accept credit cards, only cash, and I had to immediately pay two months deposit on top of one month’s membership fee. Cue me frantically trying to get over $1200 out of an ATM, maxing out the daily withdrawal limit on every debit and credit card I owned.
Then there was yet ANOTHER hurdle: Paperwork.
Pages and pages of membership contract paperwork that I had to initial and sign—all just for a simple one month hot-desk membership. I might have signed away my kidneys in that contract, and I definitely wasted about 20 minutes of my life while they prepared it all.
On top of that, they could only return my deposit — in cash — 30 days after the end of my membership. Although the co-working space was great, it bugged me that the entire discovery and booking experience was so inefficient.
How did all this lead to the idea itself?
While the hotel industry has Tripadvisor and Booking.com, nothing existed like that for co-working spaces. I couldn’t understand why in such a fast growing industry, there was not yet a global platform to find, book and review co-working spaces.
So together with my friend Sam Marks (serial entrepreneur & investor), I decided to build it.
Coworker went live in October 2015, and has been growing ever since.
— Leanne Beesley (@LeanneBeesley) July 12, 2018
What problem are you solving?
It’s still early days, but we’re pretty far along in solving the “discovery” problem so far.
There are currently over 9200 co-working spaces in 158 countries on Coworker, with around 300 new co-working spaces joining each month. So instead of having to sift through tons of websites on Google, you can now find them all on one marketplace.
Depending on what features the co-working space has activated, you can schedule a tour, book a free day pass (to try it out for a day), send a message, or make a booking request for a hot-desk, dedicated desk or private office.
Over 12,000 people have posted reviews of co-working spaces on Coworker too, which is why media publications often describe us as the “Tripadvisor or Yelp” of co-working spaces.
Now that we’ve built the foundation and captured the market, we’re moving onto tackling the next problem, which is solving the inefficiency and problems people have when booking co-working spaces online.
We’ll be launching online payments soon so people can easily pay for short term memberships on Coworker, and due to popular demand we’re expanding inventory types to include real time availability & booking of meeting rooms at co-working spaces.
I’m really excited about this next stage of growth — we’re solving a major problem for a lot of people —myself included.
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BREAKING: WealthLAB Co-Founder Makes Forbes 30 Under 30 List
Forbes Africa just unveiled its fifth annual “30 under 30” list, highlighting the top young entrepreneurs, innovators and gamechangers.
And guess what: WealthLAB co-founder Odunayo Eweniyi is on it. See the full Forbes list here.
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Extremely honored to be on the list of this year’s Forbes 30under30 2019 in Technology along with my cofounders @somtoifezue and @JoshChibueze. Thank you everyone for the support, we could not have done this without you guys! Thank you @forbesafrica! #thegirlthatcould #30under30
Alongside co-founders Joshua Chibueze, 26, and Somto Ifezue, 28, Odunayo built PiggyVest, a fintech app that’s helped over 230,000 African Millennials invest and save over $15M.
“PiggyVest was born out of the need to help people create a sustainable means of saving,” Odunayo told Forbes. PiggyVest users currently earn 10-13% on savings.
Just last May, PiggyVest—then known as Piggybank—closed a seed round, raising $1.1M. In doing so, Odunayo became one of under 30 Black women to raise over $1M in startup capital.
While the app started as a digital piggy bank for savers, Odunayo told TechCrunch the goal was to become a “financial warehouse” where other financial providers “can plug in their services for [PiggyVest] users.”
That vision recently came to life with the launch a new investment feature called “Investify,” which pays around 25% depending on the investment opportunity.
These investments will range from classic guaranteed fixed income opportunities (TBills, bonds, commercial papers, etc) to unconventional opportunities in real estate, agriculture, and transportation.
Minimum amount you can invest will vary by investment opportunities.
— PiggyVest (@PiggyBankNG) April 30, 2019
The Forbes distinction comes on the heels of an impressive recent run of awards for the young entrepreneur.
In March, Odunayo earned an award from Forbes as one of the top young “wealth creators” in Africa. Shortly after, Odunayo was named 2019 SME Entrepreneur of the Year in Wealth and Society in West Africa.
Prior to founding PiggyVest, Odunayo co-founded PushCV, the largest job database in Africa.
“I’ve always wanted to make an impact. I didn’t know how I would do it, but i felt a compulsion to.”Odunayo told Black Enterprise in a recent interview.
In addition to PiggyVest, Odunayo’s co-founded WealthLAB (yes, this WealthLAB) with NYC-based investor-entrepreneur Philip Michael. The two also invest in women —and minority run startups in the US.
Forbes Africa named 120 entrepreneurs across four categories: trade, technology, innovation, and sport. “I’m honored but I’m just ready to work,” Odunayo said when asked about the award. “I’m already thinking about what’s next.”
Well, alright then. Hit her up and congratulate her on IG here!