The heaviest, most unproductive costs for very young startups are overheads. They can be a black hole for funds that would have been better utilised developing core products. But working out of your bedroom is not always the best option. A team would need space to meet, share ideas, and focus without the distraction that working at home would bring.
The traditional office setups of cubicles, mandatory ties, and 9-to-5 hours just don’t cut it for the startup generation either. So in come the digital nomads, these remote-working, travel-hungry people who don’t like to be tied down. They have a more flexible attitude to productivity, working wherever and whenever they want.
There is another option for startups that’s not quite as drastic as wandering around beach front cafés, and not as expensive as outfitting an office ‒ and that’s coworking space. A coworking space is basically a shared working environment owned by an organisation but used by a number of different groups or people ranging from startups to freelancers. Users pay a set amount for the space, connectivity, and some basic amenities (coffee!). And it’s becoming pretty popular among startups. According to these stats by Officevibe, 68% of those who use coworking spaces are able to focus better, 92% are satisfied with the whole coworking arrangement, and 90% said they are more confident when coworking. Those are some pretty good numbers which probably explain why coworking spaces are on the rise.
With the growth of the startup industry in Sri Lanka, a number of coworking spaces have been set up already. So if you are a startup looking to find some space, we list out a number of coworking spaces in and around Colombo that you can approach.
Regus probably has the most comprehensive set of options for startups looking for somewhere to work. They’ve got several locations in Colombo, Dehiwela, and Kotte and offer coworking spaces, office spaces, virtual offices (yes, it’s a thing) and meeting rooms. Coworking spaces start from Rs. 753 per person per day depending on the package you choose. Office spaces start at Rs. 789 per person per day, again depending on your location and the package options you choose. They’ve got modern interiors, administrative support, and receptionists, printers, scanners, communal kitchens, lounges, and of course, lots of WiFi.
The facilities look good, and so do the prices, but that depends on the number of days you sign on for, whether it be a few months or a few days a month. They’ve also got an app which makes booking space that much easier.
Entrepreneur Hubs is a new network of coworking spaces for entrepreneurs. They have locations in Colpetty, Nugegoda, and Mount Lavinia and have air conditioning, WiFi, coffee, and bottled water all included in the membership fee. They’ve also got admin and IT support and access outside of office hours. What’s special is that there will also be experienced business people available to offer support and guidance, as well as weekly networking and mentoring sessions free of charge. Investor evenings will be arranged to give selected startups the chance to make presentations directly to the local angel investment community, to raise seed capital. Individual seating can be booked for Rs. 15,000 a month, though hot-desking is also available.
Orion City does not have coworking spaces as such, but they do have their ‘Nest’ spaces which are targeted at startups and small operations looking for somewhere to work. You pay per seat at a fully kitted out office space where all you have to do is plug in to start working. They’ve got central air conditioning, security, connectivity, a cafeteria, and all the other shared facilities available at one of Sri Lanka’s largest IT parks.
Loft 1024 is located in Ward Place and has six private office spaces that can handle up to seven people in each room, though their common area can hold up to ten desks. You can rent office space or individual desks. They’ve got WiFi, coffee, receptionists, and meeting rooms. They are, however, full up till after January of 2017, so you’ll have to plan ahead if you want to book space there.
Y Impact Hub
Y Impact Hub is a coworking space launched by Youth Business Sri Lanka, last month. They appear to be based at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, and offer desks, meeting rooms, connectivity, and coffee for Rs. 11,500 a month. They don’t have a website or Facebook page yet, but you can contact them at [email protected] for bookings, or go through the advertisement they’ve placed online.
Hub 9 is a coworking space down Park Gardens in Colombo. It isn’t the biggest building around, but for Rs. 7,500 a month, you get desk space, air-conditioning, and free internet. This is also where Buzzbird used to be based. They are open 24/7, which is a big plus.
Most of the coworking spaces listed here have not been around very long, and there’s a lot more that can be done to develop a culture for it. The Slasscom 2016 report on startups stresses the importance of coworking spaces and incubators to the economy. Israel has 40 coworking spaces and 60 “tech-community” spaces all in a country of 8 million people. Sri Lanka just has a handful, but the good news is that the number of these spaces is growing. Several have opened up this year, and there are more scheduled to open up next year, so there will be plenty of opportunity for startups to find the space they need. All a coworking space needs is computers, connectivity, and coffee, to get going. Just don’t forget your coworking etiquette.
Featured image credit: Design Helm, Los Angeles