Choose your workspace – co-working, business center, meeting room, FabLab – based on user reviews. This is the value proposition of the Luxembourgish startup Popwork, which has already launched its booking platform for use in Brussels, Geneva, Luxembourg and Paris. The current beta version already allows startuppers, entrepreneurs and business people to get an overview of the potential of the site, which favors direct connections and recommendations rather than a traditional search for offices through real estate agencies. We met Maxime Belair, CEO and co-founder of Popwork, to learn more about the ambitions of the startup.
(Featured Image: Maxime Belair, CEO and co-founder of Popwork / Image Credit: Popwork)
In a society that increasingly advocates for the flexibility of telecommuting from home or other places outside of the main office, the flexible workspace market is on the rise and generated no less than € 17 billion in 2015. There are already more than five million flexible workspaces and meeting rooms in Western Europe and the United States, and the supply continues to grow.
More and more companies are looking for this space, as well as self-employed people who represented 16% of the European workforce in 2015 (Source: Global Coworking Survey 2015-16, deskmag and socialworkplaces.com). In a traditional market dominated by large business centers and where brokers and real estate agencies offer little visibility upstream, the need for transparency and flexibility is increasingly felt.
Nomadic workers often find themselves confronted with the question of how they should choose the flexible workspace that will best meet their needs. “With Popwork, we have developed a platform based on social recommendations to allow each user to instantly find the space suited to their needs,” says Belair. “In September 2015, two future founders of Popwork, Benjamin Callier and Laurent Lafond, then in transit in an airport, had a disastrous experience in a meeting room in the basement that they had not been able to vet beforehand. The idea of the startup immediately germinated in their heads!”
Today, the social recommendation is one of the main means of influencing purchasing decisions in many industries, such as the hotel, restaurant and transport sectors. Putting users at the heart of the system by allowing them to choose, book, rate, recommend and comment has become the raison d’être of many platforms. Popwork has taken the lead when it comes to the European workspace-booking arena.
The site offers users the opportunity to evaluate the workspace they have used via a star rating system (from 1 to 5 stars) and leave comments. Very simple to use and unique in Europe, the platform references – and geolocalizes – to date more than 200 workspaces in four countries (Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland) and aims to pass the 1,000 mark by the end of 2017!
On the business model side, while the referencing and the evaluations are free, a commission is applied on the transactions carried out via the site. The future widget (described below) will also be available with a monthly subscription. Finally, if a service provider wishes to highlight its workspace on the channels offered by Popwork, premium paid options will be offered. In all cases the rankings of the workspaces will remain linked to the evaluations and not to the options subscribed. The volume of offers and evaluations are already taking off.
We have signed a partnership with Technoport. The incubator will be one of the first pilot areas for the implementation of online payments and advanced features.
Currently in beta, the startup has already showed its European ambitions by offering workspaces in four countries and announcing the recruitment of several business developers to accelerate the referencing of new places in these countries as well as in the UK, and London more precisely. “We aim to be the first European platform to let users find, book and mark workspaces,” says the CEO of the startup.
In terms of functionality, the launch of a mobile application available on iOS and Android is envisaged in the course of 2017, as well as the creation of a widget that can be integrated directly on the sites of suppliers of workspaces and whose objective is to facilitate the automatic conversion of site visitors to users. “This widget should not only allow company employees to internally choose and book meeting rooms and co-working spaces, but also offer a reservation module to professionals offering workspaces to rent, ultimately facilitating the interaction between them and the end user,” concludes Belair.
This article was first published in the Spring 2017 issue of SILICON magazine. Be the first to read SILICON articles on paper before they’re posted online, plus read exclusive features and interviews that only appear in the print edition, by subscribing online.