Co-working and start-ups go hand-in-hand, so it’s no surprise some mighty fine companies have their roots in shared spaces.
Here’s four Australian-based firms which got their start in co-working and are now surging ahead.
One of Australia’s most successful fintech start-ups, Ordermentum, a web-based ordering and payments platform for the food and beverage industry, used co-working as a launching pad when it started-up just over two years ago.
Ordermentum is a business-to-business order automation system which solves the problem of daily ordering of goods in the hospitality sector. It handles about 70,000 orders a month, is used by 15,000 retailers Australia-wide and has about 250 suppliers on its books.
Founders Andrew Low and Adam Theobald used several different spaces in Sydney, including not-for-profit fintech hub Stone & Chalk, when they started the business, which now employs 30 people in Australia and five in the Philippines.
Low, regarded as an innovator in the Australian food and beverage sector, recommends co-working to start-ups for several reasons.
“At the start, it can be very lonely, so if you’re the type of person who wants someone next to you, a tribal-type person, then co-working spaces are brilliant. Also, why spend lots of money on an office lease, bean bags and pretty chairs when you could be putting it into your business?”
The founders of another Sydney-based start-up, Aglo, a crowdsourced shopper platform that helps brands get their products to stand out on the supermarket shelf, also rate co-working highly.
The business used Fishburners and Tank Stream Labs since launching in January last year.
Mark Jordan and David Wong made a “conscious decision” to use co-working spaces – even though they could have set up an office on their own more cheaply, because of the “surreptitious collaboration and connections” it can, and often does, deliver.
“The brilliant thing about co-working – when you’re coming from working at home, especially – is the literal human interaction of sharing a space with people and the connections you’re able to make, personally and professionally,” Jordan says.
“You’re consistently working among other founders who are trying to make a go of it. It might just be a quick coffee with someone, but you make real connections that can help grow your business. It often happens that you end up working with someone else in the space – either on an ad-hoc casual basis or more formally.”
David Pagotto, managing director of SIXGUN, a digital marketing agency based in Melbourne, says co-working has been the “cornerstone” of his firm’s success.
SIXGUN, which was founded in July last year and specialises in “performance digital marketing, specifically SEO, Google ads and paid social advertising”, first worked out of Collective Campus, a corporate innovation accelerator in the CBD.
Now Pagotto and two other full-time staff, who work with clients such as Australia Post, Roll’d and Drake International, are based at a private co-working space in East Melbourne, along with five other businesses.
“Co-working provides a strong network of other business people for support and knowledge growth, access to much-needed business services, a powerful avenue for lead generation and all at an affordable price,” he says.
Pagotto dismisses the idea it’s hard to be productive when co-working. “Most people are there to get serious work done, not chit-chat.” And most starts-ups could benefit from it. “The support component alone is enough to be persuaded.”
Pagotto is utterly convinced. “SIXGUN has some pretty aggressive growth goals over the coming years and we will be using co-working spaces for the foreseeable future.”
Tyroola – a website which lets consumers buy tyres of any brand online and have them fitted locally – has grown from nothing to a multi-million-dollar, 14-person business in just under four years. And it all started in earnest at Fishburners in Sydney’s CBD.
The company, which was co-founded by Dutchman Zed Klingenberg in January 2015 and currently handles a “few hundred orders” a day across Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia, is now based at Fishburners in Wynyard.
Klingenberg says the community of co-working is key. “Especially in the beginning, we got many connections and insights that helped us grow our company,” he says.
“Some people think co-working spaces are mostly for start-ups, but there are actually many companies (that have been) already operating for more than three years in co-working spaces, that can share their insights and can be of great value for new entrepreneurs.
“I spent some time in Jakarta recently, where a multi-billion-dollar company actually had used a co-working space for a major part of their team members,” Klingenberg says.