Can you introduce your start-up? What is it, and how did it come about?
At WeCoffee we aim to provide the world’s most flexible and affordable workspace solution so we can:
- democratise the ability to run a project or business to anyone, anywhere
- keep local high streets and unique spaces thriving and in business
- reduce the environmental impact and stress associated with commuting
After Arnaud, one of our Co-Founders, had spent 7 months working remotely for the majority of his time he had become fed up of staring at google maps trying to find an affordable space to get some work done, needing juice for the laptop and phone, quiet enough to skype and ideally with a great coffee. Arnaud had the plan to create a truly flexible network of great affordable workspaces!
So Arnaud called me (Ben), knowing I would have some thoughts on the idea. Having come from an automotive and mobility services background I suggested that we could build a network of spaces through using many of the beautiful spaces that surround us and have quiet hours of day. After looking at what other options where available we decided that we would try to deliver affordability by focusing on free workspaces and allowing people to access them for free.
All the other options seemed to charge the person using the space a monthly fee and then expected them to spend some money in the space; we thought it would be cool to flip this on its head and offer free access to the spaces, and if you choose to take a super affordable subscription of £9.99 a month then you could get up to 50% your food & drink, meeting rooms and day passes in dedicated coworking spaces.
Where are you in your startup journey?
We are now 1 year in with a growing community of over 1000 freelancers, entrepreneurs and flexible workers.
We are just hiring our first team members and are using the community we support to support us, and excited to be bringing in new venues, bigger offers and new features every week.
To date, what has been the biggest triumph for your business?
Our biggest triumph is definitely the community we have built. It’s a word this is often overused, but the fact we never need to seek advice or services to grow our business from outside our community shows we really can democratize the ability to run a business or launch a project.
How have you found being a c0-founder? And what advice you would give to other co-founders?
I am desperately lucky to have talented and supportive co-founder. My advice to other founders is find yourself and Arnaud, but mine is currently taken.
Speaking for Arnaud and I, we can both safely say we have and are enjoying growing WeCoffee more than we have ever enjoyed any other work experience. For me personally I always go to work with my full emotions committed to what I do, and it has been no different for me with WeCoffee, but I would advise others that if you have never given your heart and soul to a project before, be prepared for a roller coaster ride of emotional states and for every low there is a high (you hope).
How do you manage to balance growing a start-up with having a personal life?
What’s a personal life? 😉
I try and go climbing once a week at least and try and see and speak to my closest loved ones, but currently work does have to come first sometimes.
How do you cope with the pressures that come with building a business?
For me working harder has always helped with the pressure, but on those days when I wake up and the fear hits, I run a bath, make some coffee and talk a walk or wander in my small but treasured garden to seek some tranquility.
If that fails I call my co-founder and I can’t emphasize enough the importance of someone who wants to talk it through as much as you.
Did you pursue investment? If so what advice would you give on pitching? What was your secret weapon?
We did pursue investment. My advice on pitching is practice, practice, practice. For us it turned out our secret weapon was my ever-abundant passion for WeCoffee – and being blessed with pretty good traction.
If you could name one thing that you wish you knew when you started, what would it be?
I wish I had known we would still be here now. I might have slept a lot better.
To date, what has been your most important lesson?
I think the most important lessons for us have been fundamentally very boring as they are mostly focused around technical operations. The amount of learning required when you start becoming all departments of an organization at the early stages is phenomenal. I guess I would say never undervalue the experience of others and their willingness to help.
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone thinking about starting up their own business, or who have just started their journey?
Focus on whats most important to the people you want to help, and not your business. If you can find a way to make every ones lives easier then that’s very valuable.
What has been the most challenging part of your start-up journey so far?
To stop talking about it to every single person who crosses my path. Beware f you see me on the tube.
What’s next for your business?
To keep growing our community and delivering more excellent workspaces, at an affordable price.
We have some cool plans, but we like to keep those in the lab. You never know if you check the site you might be lucky to spot one in the wild.
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