Startup co-working space seeks team players

At WeCo, startups who contribute more pay less rent

WeCo opened this year in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. Credit: WeCo

WeCo opened this year in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. Credit: WeCo

A new co-working space in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs uses rent pricing to promote collaboration among startups.

The only difference between a co-working space and a library is collaboration.

WeCo founder Joel Hauer

WeCo uses a non-traditional pricing model that provides discounts to tenants that contribute significantly to the space’s collaborative spirit. A startup starts by paying a base rent, but after two weeks of tenancy can renegotiate the price based on how much they contribute to other startups at the co-working space.

“It’s about the energy you bring,” WeCo founder Joel Hauer told Techworld Australia. “If you’re someone who would prefer 90 per cent of the time to sit in the corner and do you work, that’s fine. But if it is someone who literally doesn’t communicate and isn’t open to collaboration, then they actually won’t get into the space.”

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A willingness to help others is critical to an effective startup co-working space, said Hauer. “The only difference between a co-working space and a library is collaboration.”

“I don’t think people come to a co-working space for a desk and an Internet connection. If they did, then they would go to a library or work from home.”

WeCo official opened its doors on 20 March. Located in Edgecliff, it is the first co-working space to pop up in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

“A lot of the startup scene is in the city, but I’ve found through my research that a lot of people like to work from home and close to the beach,” said Hauer. “Giving them a space to actually come to and collaborate from has worked very well for them.”

WeCo has 200 square metres of office space plus a 30-square-metre courtyard for startups that want to work outside. The space is at about 30 per cent occupancy and currently home to startups working on a variety of areas including social media, healthcare and digital design. The space also houses several freelancers and consultants.

Hauer said a point of differentiation for WeCo is that it’s not solely tech-focused like the Fishburners co-working space.

While unlikely Australia’s startup scene will expand to the size of Silicon Valley, Hauer said “it’s definitely improving."

Raising money is getting easier, with “a lot more funds popping up,” he said. “I’m also quite surprised with big businesses coming aboard,” including major bank ANZ with its Innovyz Start program, he said.

More education is needed to create more entrepreneurs, said Hauer. The ecosystem would benefit from free, possibly government-supported education to “help build the startup mentality,” he said.

Also, Hauer wishes government would better understand the difference between a startup and a small business.

For startups, the business plan often comes after the first 12 months and they are frequently pivoting to meet market demand, he said. “It’s a different mentality.”

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Techworld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU

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Tags Eastern SuburbsstartupsSydneyco-working spaceAustraliacollaborationWeCo

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