Corporate Turns Coworking – Campus X & OfficeRnD

OfficeRnD was born in late 2014 when we, together with another Miro, started working on a software for space management. Both of us were managing software teams at Telerik, one of the leading software companies for developer tools. We were facing an interesting challenge ‘How to make sure our teams are productive and our teammates are happy and healthy in an office that’s constantly changing due to the dynamic nature of the software business.’

As software engineers, of course, we were sure the solution must be Software. Let’s develop a platform that streamlines the management of the office space – improve the occupancy and utilization while maintaining well-balanced, well-planned thus healthy, collaborative and productive office environment.

We were still trying to conceptualize our idea when Telerik was acquired by Progress Software. It was a big success for an amazing startup. These events served us as a further motivation to leave the security of our well-paid jobs and start our own venture.

The World of Coworking

Early on, PiLabs, the first #proptech accelerator in Europe invited us to join their program in London. The office was based in the beautiful coworking space called SecondHome in Shoreditch. It quickly became our ‘first home’ as we were coding 16h / day. That’s how we discovered the amazing world of Coworking. A shared workspace with extreme focus on community and collaboration, good sense of hospitality and beautiful, productive layout and design. That was it!

SecondHome and the Coworking spaces we’ve seen were exactly what we thought the office should be:

  • Collaborative offices with great communities
  • Green, healthy and stimulating environments
  • Dynamic, flexible and evolving spaces

The World of Coworking Software

Only 3 months after we started we decided to focus entirely on making the best software for coworking spaces. Although we started with the ‘space’ module and built beautiful interactive floor plans, we quickly developed a billing module, accounting integrations and started working on our first version of the community portal.

To be honest, most of our early-stage investors weren’t very excited about the coworking industry. It was small, very niche market that on the surface seemed like a really tiny opportunity for a tech startup. One of the Telerik founders, also our very first investor, was joking with us about how we managed to pick such a small industry.

Campus X

Fast forward two years and there was an interesting plot twist in our story. While OfficeRnD was growing fast and adding more and more awesome coworking customers, the Telerik founders decided to take on their next challenge – building the largest incubator for tech
companies and talent in South-East Europe, Campus X.

Thanks to their vision and understanding of the startup community Campus X is turning into one of the most vibrant flexible workspace/tech hubs in the regions. After the final phase of the project, the campus will span across approximately 18 000 sq.m. of office space, hosting more than 1000 members.

Interestingly enough, Campus X premises in fact span across the same office buildings we wanted to build space management software for 3 years ago in the then ‘corporate’ environment. They are now converted to beautiful flexible workspaces that serve as a home base for Campus X’s amazing community. Turns out that in the end, we did build software for the buildings we envisioned 4 years ago, however not in the corporate environment we originally thought.

Today, Campus X workspaces management is powered by the OfficeRnD software platform. Automating the operations allowed them to focus on the important bits, such as growing the community and making their facilities great and hospitable. OfficeRnD is helping them with a number of elements, such as:

  • Automated billing;
  • Easy to use contracts & memberships management;
  • Integrated door access;
  • Connected community through a beautiful web portal and mobile app;
  • Easy to use bookings, and;
  • Interactive space management (yes, this is where we started)

This is just the beginning for us. We’re ready to do so much more for the world of Coworking and Flexible workspaces.

If you want to join the coworking industry, check out our careers page or drop us a line at info@officernd.com. We are growing and looking for JavaScript Developers and Quality Assurance Engineer for our beautiful office in Campus X, Sofia, Bulgaria.

What’s Wrong with Coworking Software

And what we’re doing about it.

Coworking Europe Conference 2017, Dublin – one of the unconference topics was ‘What’s wrong with the coworking software?’ – hosted by Hector Kolonas from included.co.

‘It’s over-complicated, not integrated and really not good enough.’ said the crowd.

It’s true and of course, there’s a range of reasons for it.

Software Needs Big Investment

Building software is the best but also, the worst thing you can do. It’s expensive. It’s very expensive. It’s more expensive than you can imagine. Why’s that? Because software engineers are very expensive. Then you need to document it, you need to support it, you need to ensure its high quality, you need to extend it. Yes, the more you add, the more your users will demand. Building software is a never-ending process. If it ends and you stop pouring money into it, then it’s dead.

Coworking as a business used to be small, niche market. Which resulted in been unattractive to software companies, investors, and tech startups. So the first coworking management tools had to deal with it by themselves with the resources they have.

On the other side, you have sophisticated users – the coworking manager. People, who are used to work with advanced, professional tools built by big software companies and startups, such as Slack, Xero, QuickBooks, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Intercom, and so on. The standard for Software is higher than ever. We all have big expectations and little patience and tolerance because we’re used to using great software. But behind these great software solutions, there are big companies with hundreds of engineers, support, QAs working on them and millions of dollars in investment.

That’s why we raised $1M. You can’t build great software with 2 engineers sitting in their coworking space.

Lack of Product and UX Vision

Some of the first coworking management solutions were built with a complete lack of product and user experience vision. In today’s world, UX is key. If the software looks bad, feels out-dated and is hard to use, there’s no way to be successful, of course. As mentioned, users have very high expectations for software and the user experience is one of the first bits that all of us see.

That’s why, we emphasize the user experience, both for managers and members. 
Software Development - How it works

Lack of Speed

Others are too slow. They have a vision and drive their product well, considering the user interface and the user experience but they have no speed. The coworking management solutions are very complicated platforms. It’s a business critical type of software – ERP as it’s known in the traditional business world, or PMS in the Hotels world. It is a HUGE piece of software. The amount of functionality, integrations, and reliability that’s required is massive. In order, to build a great coworking management software you need speed. You need speed and dedication from your product development team.

That’s why we invest all resources in Product Development. We release new functionality and updates weekly and the number of changes is great. Check out our Release history.

Lack of Good Support and Integrity

In order to provide a great software solution, you have to start with good support and a great team. You need people that actually care about others and care about the industry. People with high emotional intelligence who are willing to sacrifice their comfort for their customers. Something that is key and is the ethos of Coworking – members and customers comfort is first.

Building great software also requires integrity which is not present in some of the vendors. One of our competitors tried to hack us. Others are using nasty marketing techniques and paid Google ads containing ‘OfficeR&D’ to get you to their misleading comparison pages. Not sure if this will bring them any good opportunities. I’m only sure that investing in their product will bring more value to their customers.

Being nice usually helps. Having integrity also helps to build better software. We invest a lot in our team and the quality of support that we provide. 

We know what’s wrong with the Coworking software and we know how to solve it. We truly believe that investing more in our team and our product will take us a long way. We have a vision, we have a great team and amazing customers, we secured good investment, and we move fast. In a year or two, the coworking and flexible workspace management software will be different. We will make it different.