More and more, young professionals today are opting to work from co-working spaces, as the advantages of sharing facilities meet the changing needs of their professional lives. With co-working spaces on the rise, there is actually also a need for the people who take the initiative to open and run these facilities. Youth Time today speaks to finance graduate and experienced marketing executive Evgeny Frolov (28), the initiator behind the Krizovatka expat co-working space on Vaclav Square, right in the heart of the Prague. Find out what it takes to open a co-working space and all the things that come along with it.
Hi, Evgeny, what made you decide to open a co-working space?
As an entrepreneur, I experience positive and negative emotions every month, depending on how business is going. And when you are in a low period and there is no one around you to support you and to push you to the top, it’s very hard to stand alone. At the same time I understood that I could help entrepreneurs around me, and I am excited about this. I decided that it should be my mission: I want to help high-initiative people to make their dreams come true. And setting up a co-working space is one of the ways I can do it.
Why is there a focus on expats (those who are living abroad) only?
It’s not the only focus, it’s the main focus. I mean, it’s not so easy to start and run a new business in a country where you are an expat, but Prague is the geographical center of Europe, and there are a lo-o-o-t of expats here. They are professionals, they are active, and they have a friendly attitude towards other nationalities and countries. That’s why we are glad to have Czech residents, too.
How do you find the appropriate location? What requirements need to be met?
I visited a lot of co-working spaces in the CEE region and in the USA. Some of them are mostly like shared offices, some are like creative places, but the main points are the availability of a conference room, space for events for 50+ persons, and a kitchen.
What kinds of services are offered in the Krizovatka co-working space?
First of all we offer shared office space for freelancers, start-uppers, nomads, etc. Of course we offer them all the services businesses need, like registration for new companies, a legal address, and accounting services, and we can help to find staff for companies. As we are going to start a business incubation program, we also offer mentoring, presentation skills, events, and so on.
Photo by Evgeny Frolov
How do you attract the right people (are certain sectors not a fit?) to make use of the co-working space? And whom do you target?
We are not a big international company with multiple offices and thousands of employees. So our business is a reflection of a founder’s vision and character. And here, as in the rest of a real life, you go further with the people who are in your comfort zone.
Are there fixed opening times for the co-working spaces? Is there a code of conduct in place? And what to do when it’s breached?
Yes, we are open from 9 am to 9 pm. And on the weekend from 2 pm to 9 pm. We have only one main rule – not to disturb the people around. And if someone speaks a little bit louder than necessary, we ask him not to do this. It’s very simple, because usually those who understand what they can get in a co-working space are smart, and they don’t need to be told why they must not disturb others.
Photo by Evgeny Frolov
Is facilitating these co-working spaces a full time job? Or do you find time for other work as well?
For me, the co-working space is the main project. We have a lot of work and we have great goals – to help Czech startups to grow and get funding.
What will you do when you have reached the maximum capacity?
We have the option of renting additional space in this building. Anyway we always can rent additional space somewhere else.
Photo by Evgeny Frolov
Can you make a decent living out of running a co-working space? Or is it mostly a way of sharing costs?
You have to understand that co-working – it’s a real estate business. And you have two points of development: one, to start and run additional venues – it’s like a horizontal way of development; and two, to organize a business incubator and accelerator – it’s like a vertical way. In any case it can be an international business.
What tips could you offer to other young people who think about opening co-working spaces?
The main point is atmosphere and people. When new residents come to look, they have to have emotions like: wow, there are cool people here!
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