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.

OfficeR&D raises $1 million seed funding

  • Funding round is led by LAUNCHub Ventures, the co-founders of Telerik, and Constant Tedder, the co-creator of Runescape
  • Funding will be used to make OfficeR&D the market leader in the flexible workspace management software solutions
  • OfficeR&D is a graduate of London-based property tech VC Pi Labs’ pre-seed programme

London, 16 November 2017: OfficeR&D, the London and Bulgaria-based coworking space management platform, today announces the completion of its $1 million seed funding round. The capital investment was led by LAUNCHub Ventures, the founders of Telerik, a leading Bulgarian software company, and Constant Tedder, the co-creator of Runescape. The investment will be used to triple the size of the OfficeR&D team and advance OfficeR&D’s product development to keep pace with demand in the rapidly growing coworking industry, while also adding new functionality for real estate and property management.

 

OfficeR&D is a flexible workspace management solution to help new and existing coworking and serviced offices maximise their revenue and use of space, improve customer online and mobile experience and bring clarity to their fast-growing businesses. OfficeR&D is a full-service white-label solution which brings together all office space and member data into one platform, and boasts integrations with dozens of popular business tools.

 

With offices in London and Bulgaria, OfficeR&D’s platform is used by more than 100 coworking spaces and serviced offices across 30 countries, and a combined 10,000 members use the OfficeR&D portal every day. OfficeR&D began life at Pi Labs, the London-based property tech venture capital firm, where it was a member of the first cohort of Pi Labs’ pre-seed programme. Pi Labs was also an early investor in the company.

 

Miroslav Miroslavov, co-founder and CEO of OfficeR&D, said: “We firmly believe that workspace-as-a-service will become the way of working for most if not all small and mid-sized businesses. For flexible workspace operators managing their space and growing communities brings significant challenges, particularly as they scale up or expand to new locations. Members have come to expect seamless service, and flawless automation is increasingly imperative for a workspace success. This funding round will ensure that we can continue to anticipate and address those challenges for our customers, allowing us to offer the best full-service solution for this dynamic and exciting market.”

 

Rumen Iliev, partner at LAUNCHub, said: “The distinctions between flexible, serviced and coworking spaces are blurring, and these spaces will all soon simply be known as ‘the office’. We believe that coworking spaces represent the future of the office, and the market shows no sign of slowing. Coworking space management has been an historically underserved market segment, and we’re delighted to be supporting OfficeR&D on their mission to improve outcomes and quality of service. OfficeR&D has a really beautiful product and Miroslav and his team have a sophisticated understanding of the modern coworking space, and we look forward to seeing OfficeR&D grow over the coming months and years.”

About OfficeR&D

OfficeR&D is a flexible workspace management solution to help new and existing coworking and serviced offices maximise their revenue and use of space, improve customer online and mobile experience and bring clarity to their fast-growing businesses. OfficeR&D was founded by Miroslav Miroslavov and Miroslav Nedyalkov in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2015, and completed Pi Labs’ property tech accelerator programme in London later that year. Since then, OfficeR&D has become one of the worldwide market leaders in flexible workspace management software, amassing over 100 coworking spaces and serviced offices across 30 countries. OfficeR&D’s customers include Central Working, Us&Co, Halkin, Dogpatch Labs, Centrl Office, Mesh Oslo, Maria.io and many more.

About LAUNCHub Ventures

LAUNCHub Ventures is an early stage VC Fund, based in Sofia and investing in digital startups in the wider Southeastern Europe region. The fund’s portfolio companies are in the fields of SaaS, Enterprise Software, Health-tech, E-commerce, Mobile, IoT, but its investments are not limited only in these verticals. With €30m under total management LAUNCHub Ventures focuses on the seed space with investment ticket size in the range of €300K to 700K, expandable up to €1,5m per company.

2016 in Review

According to the Chinese Zodiac, it was the year of the Monkey. We here at OfficeR&D also believe that it was the Year of Coworking…according to the ancient Workspace calendar. Jokes aside, this isn’t far from the truth. The global coworking community is growing at a double digit rate and is just about to reach the 1 million coworkers milestone. These are large numbers and it’s just the beginning. The SMEs are still yet to join the Coworking 2.0 movement and this is going to be huge. Read more on this here.

coworking-slide

Coworking Growth by the Coworking Survey from deskmag.com

OfficeR&D by the numbers

It was a great year for Coworking and it was a great year for OfficeR&D, too. We ran through the year at an (almost) sprint in order to deliver the best management experience for our customers and the best coworking experience for our fellow coworking members.

Here’s 2016 in numbers:

  • We on-boarded customers from 11 countries on 4 continents;
  • We grew from zero to thousands of members using our Members portal;
  • We released more than 400 new versions and updates to the platform;
  • We delivered 10 new integrations;
  • We deployed more than 500 stories – new featuresbug fixes and improvements;
    • That’s more than 5000 code commits. Funny or not, there is not a single day without a commit to make the platform better, faster and more feature rich.
  • We grew our team by 40% – thanks Jess and Andrew. 🙂
commits

Our development pace. It’s exciting, isn’t it?

We’re looking forward to 2017 and we are more committed than ever. There’s so much more to do. We will make coworking a more Social, more Mobile, more User-friendly experience for the members and more Automated, Integrated and Connected for the managers.

Stay tuned for our official 2017 Roadmap. (Does OfficeR&D sound interesting? signup and join the other great spaces using OfficeR&D.)

November 2016 Release 2.0

OfficeR&D is a second generation Coworking Management platform, or Coworking Management 2.0. We’re an extremely agile team. We develop quickly and release often, without compromising on quality. The time between requesting a feature to actually having it is reduced to a number of weeks or even days.

That’s why we thought we needed another big release in November, which we’ve affectionately named; November 2.0. To keep up with demand, this will become the norm for OfficeR&D. Every 2-weeks or less, we will roll-out an update with plenty of new features, improvements, and fixes.

Opportunities

We extended our leads (opportunities) management functionality but at the same time, we simplified it.  Now you can:

  • Create opportunity for new customers a.k.a. Leads;
  • Create opportunities (or deals) and attach them to existing customers;
  • Set more options like Company and Deal size;
  • Create your own statuses and probabilities;

We also improved our Sales CRM integrations.

opportunities

Comments & Notes

OfficeR&D now supports adding Notes (or Comments) to members, teams, leads, invoices, etc. Example – if you want to add a note to a customer profile or follow up on a conversation, then, you can! There are many different ways that you can use this function:

  • You can comment on various objects;
  • You can also resolve them;
  • Your teammates can also comment and post notes;

You will find the comments at the bottom of the members, companies, invoices pages.

Stay tuned for more improvements here.

comments

Public Calendar

We released a public, beta version of our Public Calendar. It’s beautiful. It’s easy to customise. It’s easy to use. We bet your meeting room users will love it. You can turn it on for you space at Portal / Features / Public Calendar.

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Meeting Rooms

We’re constantly improving our Meeting room booking system and calendar. Here are the new features and improvements:

  • Post an optional description to a booking
  • Option to round charges at a certain period of time like 30 mins, 1 hour, etc.
  • Improved user interface – better presentation of the meeting room prices
  • Improved performance and other fixes

Members Portal

Probably our main focus at the moment is to make our Members portal the best software experience for your members. We’re constantly improving it, adding more features and polishing the user interface and experience.

  • Widgets mechanism – OfficeR&D now supports widgets mechanism which you can customise easily your dashboard
  • Twitter Feed – one of the new widgets that are available on the dashboard as well as on the members’ profile pages.
  • RSS Feed – you can also use our RSS feed widget
  • Improved Members wall – we improved the members’ wall to be sleeker and more user-friendly

Stay tuned for more features and updates.

Do you want to have an impact on our Product Roadmap and use the best coworking management platform? Join us now.

OfficeR&D raises seed

The history of the office

Source: wikipedia

Source: wikipedia

A long time ago in a village far far away two humans were working together on a new product for cutting trees. This is (perhaps) how the first office came to existence. It wasn’t a corner office but it had a beautiful view, garden, plenty of space, natural light, air conditioning and music in the background. Humans were working in these perfectly conditioned open spaces for the next few million years until the ancient Roman bureaucracy reimagined this space and named it officium – the Latin word for ‘service’.

The office as a working environment did not became popular until after the rise of the complex organisations in 18th century. The office buildings were born. Quickly and rapidly they spread across the globe. People were dreaming to have a job and work in an office. This is when the first office problems started to get momentum. The more people were working in offices the more privacy they wanted – from cubicals to corner offices – people strived for isolation. These new offices weren’t open, spacious and green any more. Natural light was a rare treat and the air conditioning wasn’t ok at all. The new office was dividing instead of connecting people.

The rise of the coworking space

In the early 21st century a new office trend emerged – the coworking. It is a brilliant idea to share the same office with other like-minded humans. This was an important step towards bringing people together and removing the office barriers created in the office. A new profession, the community manager, also was born. The community manager engineers new ways of communication between people in a shared office so they can create more value together. But the community manager was overwhelmed with administrative tasks, totally unrelated to … building the community. They had to deal with invoices and contracts, manage payments, book meeting rooms, deal with facility management, availability & occupancy of desks, marketing and hundreds other tasks. They were using spreadsheets, custom tools and sticky notes to manage the office and their members.

Runway East

Runway East

The rise of OfficeR&D

We started OfficeR&D with one simple idea – to make the office management easier and more transparent thus making everyone in the office happier, healthier, more productive and innovative. Our mission is to make the office a better place through innovative technologies.

We love the coworking idea, so it was an easy decision to start by making the coworking spaces better. OfficeR&D offloads the boring, repetitive tasks from the community (office) managers so they can focus on creating a real community by bringing people together and helping them build better businesses.

OfficeR&D Explained

For less than a year we developed great product and released 173 versions of it. Our first paying customers are among the coolest coworking spaces in London – Central Working, Rainmaking Loft and Runway East to name a few.

According to Grant Powell, Managing Director at Central Working, London:

Office R&D has enabled greater clarity around our business through it’s business intelligence platform, allowing us to plan and deliver the best service to our members. Their flexibility in shaping this tool to our core business needs has made working with them effortless. At Central Working we had searched for many systems before selecting Office R&D, we would highly recommend them.

We raised two times during 2015. We started at PiLabs – the first proptech accelerator in Europe. Just a month ago we closed our next round of investment led by Launchub – one of the best Southeastern Europe seed funds. The round was joined by two of the founders of Telerik, the world’s most famous provider of development tools.

Now we have a simple task ahead – to make the office a better place through innovative technologies. From the coworking spaces to the serviced offices and business centres, OfficeR&D will set new standards in the shared workspace management.

To be continued. Until then sign up and join the coolest London coworking spaces using OfficeR&D.

OfficeR&D and Included – making coworking more awesome

I’m very excited to announce our partnership with included.co, the ‘secret weapon’ service for members of coworking spaces and shared offices. Together, will merge new revenue streams with better space management for the whole coworking market.

New revenue streams for coworking spaces

Included.co links up their network of connected coworking and shared spaces (a.k.a collectives) to businesses that offer great discounts exclusively for members of included collectives. This creates new opportunities for all the 3 sides of the equation:

  • Collective members unlock great savings on useful products and services.
  • These businesses reach passionate businesses in these collectives.
  • Collective operators make more money by connecting with the service.
  • Collectives attract more members as the value of their desk space increases.

Their platform creates an amazing opportunity for every coworking and shared workspace out there to add even more value for their communities (and improve their bottom line too).

inlcluded.co

Better coworking space management

On the other hand we have OfficeR&D, the coworking management platform. Our partnership means we can offer our clients deep included.co integration. This will result in great revenue opportunities through the ‘included Agora widget’. It will be fully integrated into our Community Portal so that all coworking members will be able to access the great discounts available through included.co directly from within OfficeR&D.

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In a nutshell, being included and using OfficeR&D means:

  • Workspace management? included!
  • Exclusive deal sourcing? Also included!
  • Additional revenue source? included too!

Now you can focus on keeping your community happier, healthier and more productive. Having the right tools in place means for you, the coworking manager, more time for your members and more revenue streams for your business.

Sign up now for OfficeR&D through included.co and get the big discount offered to all included collectives.

London proptech acceleration

Office R&D just finished the intensive 13-week mentor led programme in the Europe’s first property-innovation focused accelerator called Pi Labs.

Starting a new business is an intense challenge which takes more than good team, hard work and the Lean Startup book. You also need the right partners and a bit of luck.

At Office R&D, we had the chance to find an investor and partner that helped us accelerate and find the right way to our market.

Two developers in a garage

We started Office R&D in Sofia, Bulgaria back in October 2014. Two developers, writing code after work, during the weekends and at night, believing they are making the software that someone is waiting for. Classic. We were identifying problems, defining the scope of the solution, developing feature after feature. We’ve been discussing and brainstorming about – ‘Who is the target customer? What do they need?’. We identified our assumptions. Since we’ve been so ‘lean’, we decided to launch the product and ran a social media campaign to get feedback. So we did and most of our friends registered. We’ve paid attention to their ideas which allowed us to create new features, we’ve also been fixing bugs. It was a very productive session, we thought. But was it really?

Investment

The next step was to focus more on the business itself. So we’ve joined for the Startup Academy in Sofia. We discussed the Lean startup again and again but well, we all know what it means, we read the book.

At the same time two investment funds found us and invited us to apply – LAUNCHub, Sofia and Pi Labs, London. They both decided to invest in Office R&D, which was a great surprise. One of the first thing one of the managers at LAUNCHub even did was to send me the Lean startup book with the kind advice to read it. Funny right?

LH

PiLabs Accelеrаtion programme

We chose to relocate to London. It was no brainier – the biggest office market in the world and acceleration fund specialised in our domain – Pi Labs – the Europe’s first property accelerator.

The programme started high: 20+ meetings in 3 days with the Pi Mentors – awesome business and property stars from the London property and related industries. The touch questions appeared again – ‘Who is the customer? Why will they pay? What is the problem you solve?’. We’ve been answering with our assumptions based on gut feelings. We could’ve feel that something is not right, but well, we’ve been happily developing more and more features 18h/day.

We all know the phrase – “Get out of the building!“. It took us quite some time and many hours of work for the Pi Labs managers and mentors to make us understand it. They literally pushed us out of the building by introducing us to dozens of potential customers and partners. That is how the meetings began, we had customers meetings every other day. We started to ask questions, to get answers and to learn. The dots finally started to connect. We started to see recurring problems in every meeting and that were not the problems we though of initially. So we started to identify the problem, to see how our solution fits. We managed to acquire few customers to trial the product and we worked with them on weekly basis. Their feedback was very valuable.

At that point, we actually started to enjoy those meetings, and we realised that being out of the office can be fun, that the weather in London is also not that bad, even for us coming from way more sunny part of the world.

London

 

As a recap, Pi Labs and their strategic partners Spire Ventures and Cushman & Wakefield, supported us in various areas:

  • Warm introductions to potential customers and partners.
  • Introductions to investors.
  • Defining the scope of the solution, the product and the business.
  • Finding the right people to help us – either employees or advisors and mentors.
  • Spread the word out via different marketing channels.
  • Prepare for further rounds of investment.

Demo Day

The acceleration programme finished with Demo Day.

‘Demo Day’ enabled potential investors to meet the teams, find out how the businesses have developed throughout the three-month Pi Labs experience and learn what the future holds for the ambitious entrepreneurs as they vie for additional funding for continued growth.

At this stage we got huge support from Pi Labs. We even had special training from MetaSpeech to improve our Public speaking, Pitch skills and most importantly, body language. That was really helpful and as a result all the 5 teams were really very well prepared on stage.

Check out the short 3 mins video from Demo Day. It’s cool, isn’t it.

Thanks Pi Labs, Cushman and Wakefield, MetaSpeech, Pi Mentors and everyone that helped us during the toughest first months of our startup journey.