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Flip the Model

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What is the coworking model?

Build a community > rent a nice space > sell the community that’s in the nice space to new people for a monthly fee.

It’s pretty simple, and everybody’s doing it, which is precisely why you might want to consider not doing it that way. What would happen if you flipped the model?

I think it’s useful to bring up the book Business Model Generation here, not because the Business Model Canvas presented in the book is the end-all-be all tool for business planning (it’s not), but because the book gets you thinking about all the stakeholders in your industry. The fun thing to do is to move the various stakeholders around the model and see what you come up with.

So let’s consider the coworking industry. The stakeholders in the coworking industry are as follows:

Coworkers, tenants, etc. (aka members)
Coworking spaces
SaaS providers (marketing to spaces)
Furniture companies
Access control systems
Service providers
SaaS providers (marketing to members)
Local business
City and local governments
Property owners
Event planners

The list can go on I’m sure, but you get the point. If we mix up some of these stakeholders and create some new models we can end up with:

Provide amazing free services and consulting to startups > Get a cut of the company > sell to investors > maybe there’s a space, maybe not

Get the city to pay you to start the space > with little overhead you are selective about your members > allow local service providers to host paid events to market to your community

Have no permanent space > organize coworking parties that focus on building community > sell tickets to attendees

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