Coworks, a three-year old Raleigh startup founded by entrepreneur DeShawn Brown, a 2014 NC State computer science alum, has constructed a global platform for helping managing logistics of shared workspaces.
“It’s a flexible workspace management platform that handles billing, room booking, member management, and resource management,” Brown said.
Coworking spaces have recently taken off in popularity because they allow several different companies to share an office space, making more equipment and knowledge accessible to more people.
Brown’s belief in the industry came as he began to obsess over it, which allowed him to discover a huge opportunity. Tanner Hallman, director of technology and co-founder of Coworks, had met Brown at their first job out of college but was more passionate about Android development. Brown called Hallman about the opportunity to create the startup, and Hallman took on the challenge.
Now a finished product, Coworks has been adopted by 25 coworking spaces around the world and has over 5,000 members using the app.
“These types of spaces are fascinating because it brings a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds into one area,” Hallman said. “They’re all there to drive their business and the community forwards.”
The development of Coworks has been heavily reliant on feedback to develop user experience, Brown said. Local startup incubator HQ Raleigh adopted their software, and they moved into a suite in the coworking space. This initial adoption of Coworks helped anchor the company and establish greater credibility with what it can do.
“We work really closely with the staff, all the way from the interns to the owner, we work with them to improve the experience,” Brown said. “We can leverage the space but also leverage each other.”
This past summer in Atlanta, the Coworks team participated in Techstars, a startup accelerator program. Brown said that having made connections with the other businesses there, an employee from another company went to Romania and found the coworking space, TechHub Bucharest, had adopted the Coworks software. He met them and further used the coworking space while on his travels. When Brown and Hallman heard this had happened, they believe that this truly displays the power of their industry.
For the future, Coworks is mainly looking to gain sales traction, Hallman said. While some of the other coworking spaces in and around Raleigh, the Loading Dock, for example, are using Coworks, they are still predominantly in the southeast.
“What we’ve decided over the past three months is we have a product that works, we just need to get it out there,” Hallman said. “We’re currently trying to raise money to build a sales team.”
Brown, who has worked on different projects and startups including Campus Cruiser, SnappyBird, and Lithios, shared some advice from his experience as an entrepreneur.
“As an entrepreneur you can invest a lot of time and then waste it,” Brown said. “Testing things out, moving quickly, taking advantage of opportunities, building your network, listening to your customers, building a good team. You’re going to fail if you don't have a good team. And of course, there’s some luck involved.”