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Letter from the Editor, Workville’s Management Team says Thank You

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“Life begins again when it gets crisp in the fall.” F Scott Fizgerald

Is it just us or will Fall forever have that back to school feeling? With the help of the Workville community, we’re taking stock of our accomplishments and setting goals for our future. By accomplishments we mean the collective achievements happening in our coworking space.

If we had to summarize in one word what it’s like behind the scenes at Workville the word would be: productive. Second word: friendly. Third word: professional. We see a lot of smart growth happening in our coworking space. When new members join they typically have already mapped out their growth plans. It’s our job to create flexible terms that match their goals. We sit together to map out the right office space for their immediate needs as well as the space they’d like for their future needs. We also review the technical aspects together – bandwidth, office layout, full time and part-time member permissions for their team. While it may sound dry, it’s actually a lot of fun to proactively figure out solutions with each member. It’s also the hardest to convey through writing just how much we enjoy the experience of working with our members. So we turned to the team at Halleloo Creative to capture the story for us.

The story behind our success is really the story of our talented community. When we first started in 2016 our goal was to create a professional, friendly, productive environment for growth stage startups. We knew we had the central location, inspiring décor and outdoor terraces people would love, and next it was up to us to go above and beyond in the day-to-day experience. Talent attracts talent and we believed we could foster an environment for the best of the best in New York City. When founding members were scaling their companies at an impressive rate, we knew we were onto something. Founding members came to us requesting a new floor for larger team offices. We built exactly that, based on their feedback. Now, we’re all taking a moment to appreciate our collective growth.

Next blog, we’ll be back to share more behind-the-scenes about what’s to come (rooftop lounge, member initiatives, and so on). Stay tuned!

To learn more about our talented community of thought-leaders, disruptors, and businesses expanding into the New York market contact us at info@workvillenyc.com.

Time Management Tips from Product Management Pros

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This week’s blog post is brought to you by a member of our coworking community, Richard Chen, co-founder of Product Gym. Rich has an uncanny ability to prepare job seekers for top-tier product management interviews. Once you get the job, he continues the coaching with tips for how to thrive in the position. This week Rich took over our blog. He’s spilling insights into the essential life hack. Guess what is the number one life hack he swears is the key to success? The answer: Time Management.

INTRODUCING TIME MANAGEMENT TRICKS BY RICHARD CHEN, FOUNDER OF PRODUCT GYM. 

Problem

For product managers, the biggest challenge is not innovation, it’s time management.

A new message on Slack, constant email alerts, clients dropping in unannounced, just to a name a few examples of daily distractions. When it comes to menial operational tasks, these can really add up, taking up almost 95% of your day if the scales before a process is in place.

The problem: Menial but time-consuming tasks are usually operational based – they happen in real-time and are really important, but they won’t grow your bottom line. So you’re faced with the challenge of how to focus more on building revenue and less on “putting out fires”.

The common mistake is to embrace the startup grind approach. This approach is a quick fix, thinking that harder and longer days equate to success. In reality, what ends up happening is fodder for comedy shows. Long days of “doing it all” change your attitude from fresh and perky to sour, cranky, unwilling to tackle the mundane. You may try finding zen by hiding in the Conference Room, only to be interrupted by Milton from Office Space looking for his stapler, or Sheila from legal bombarding you with questions. The next quick fix is trying the workaholic approach, opting to work 24/7. You start bringing your laptop with you everywhere you go – on weekends, on the subway even in bed, you’ve got the laptop jones. The thing is though, the wear and tear will burn you out, which undermines innovation. Longer hours are not the solution unless the goal is to burnout, and to burnout quickly; it’s important to take time to unplug and refresh.

Here’s how to avoid learning the lesson the hard way – invest in time management. A Product Manager’s biggest asset is the ability to create and innovate, so it’s important to protect this asset by balancing your time.

Step 1: Finding the Right Solution

Our favorite time management solution is Process Street, and there are many other options to choose from as well. Here are a few of our favorite tricks for creating a workflow process to free up your time.

The training challenge: As you may know from experience, a common mistake when training someone on your team is to have them shadow you as the only form of training, or to talk at them about details that need to be handled. This initial training could take 30 minutes or so, plus additional time is needed for follow-up questions and the margin of error that comes with having a new-bee takeover the work. Some managers give up on training altogether and continue to handle all the tasks, which does not solve your big-picture problem of mitigating daily tasks to focus on scaling the business.

Using a workflow management system is the game changer – you can create a centralized database for operating procedures which is essentially a detailed checklist of every task. Yes, this this initiative may seem like common sense, but how to create the database is the next challenge.

Step 2: Implementing the Solution

The difficulty:  To be honest, creating standard operating procedures is incedibly cumbersome when done manually. It takes time to formulate and type it all. Soon enough, you’re spending the entire day in a documenting/dating entry role – which can also start to break your spirit.

The life-hack:  Skip the manual entry and manual database creation. Instead, record your screen! We recommend Quicktime on a mac, or a similar recording service for PC users service. Because creating the checklist is a detail-oriented step – narrate what it is that you are doing, in meticulous detail. It will save you time and energy in the long run.

Your team will appreciate the video training as well. People are visual learners. A video helps them seamlessly follow along with the procedure, and it allows them to OWN the learning process. They are in charge of taking their own notes from the video, which they’ll do in a way they understand. Each team member has a checklist that they made, and that they actually believe in!

Step 3: Measuring the Impact

Referring back to our Process Street example, it’s important to use  a workflow management tool like this as a means of centralizing the database. Once the tasks have been documented and organized by category, you can assign the tasks. Let go of micro-managing, delegate down the hieracrchy!

Now you can spend your time where it will really make a difference, growing and scaling your business. Think of workflow management as revenue generating activities that enable your business to generate more revenue.

In fact, the very definition of scaling a business , an organization, and even a team for that matter, is the ability to scale responsibilities down the hierarchy or outsourced to other people.  Delegate the distracting yet real-time tasks to your team is the first step to success! Now it’s time for you. Spend your time doing only the things no one else but you can do and that are the most important for revenue growth.

 

To learn more tips from members of our coworking space community email info@workvillenyc.com.

Wishi’s Female Founders Support Women, Disrupt Trillion Dollar Industry

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If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.”

– Jeff Bezos

By the end of 2018 Amazon is projected to surpass Macy’s as the largest United States retailer, eventually becoming the largest apparel retailer. Fashion retail is scrambling to adapt to the Amazon age. Retailers emphasize a new vocabulary as the end-all for how to adapt –  but the new industry terms are more confusing and disconnected than Leonardo Dicaprio’s dating life during fashion week. Buzzwords include omnichannel, m-commerce, CX and IX. We did a deep dive to identify what buzzwords the customer wants to hear, and in doing so, we also discovered a big surprise.

Influencer marketing continues to be on the rise. New York Mag dubbed influencers the new fashion establishment (influencers accounted for 70% of Revolve’s $1 billion revenue in 2017). Warby Parker and Bonobos pioneered in-store shopping experiences, which have become the new norm for brick and mortar stores. StitchFix, a subscription-based styling company, recently IPO’d and their CEO Katrina Lake is accoladed as one of the few female CEO’s in Silicon Valley. This is where we discovered something surprising; in addition to StitchFix, female-founded stylist platforms are on the rise. Surprisingly though, they continue to be under the radar of the tech and retail industries. Lean-in as we examine another female-founded stylist platform, Wishi, and how it uses technology to disrupt the trillion-dollar retail industry.

Wishi, the name stands for Wear it, Share it, is quietly disrupting retail by solving three key problems: how to create a personal experience, how to offer efficient service, and how to build customer loyalty.

As summarized by Google in 2018 here is what the customer is expecting: “Expectations of instant personalization and total relevance are still climbing. People are changing what they search on Google: over the past two years the search term “__ for me” increased 60% and the search term “___should I __” increased 80%. In the past year, 40% of YouTube users turned to the platform to learn more about a product before they bought it. (Google) Before the purchase is complete, 52% of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t make an effort to personalize communications with them. (Salesforce) Within six months after an omnichannel shopping experience, customers logged 23 more repeat shopping trips to the retailer’s store and were more likely to recommend the brand to family and friends than those customers who used a single channel. (Harvard Business Review).

Co-founders Aya Elhannan, Lia Kislev and Clea O’hana launched Wishi in 2015 as a solution to their friends frequently asked question “what should I wear tonight”. The founders’ combined experience in technology, business, and fashion makes them uniquely qualified. As it turns, on the average daily basis, women spend 20 minutes and men spend 15 minutes staring at their closet finding something to wear. That adds up to six and four months respectively spent each year trying to get dressed.

The technology behind Wishi is analogous to Waze, a practical tool to get you where you are going, with the help of crowdsourced information. Wishi is a practical tool to get you dressed with the help of personal advice. Getting started on the platform is an intuitive process, similar to creating a dating profile – answer a list of dropdown questions, upload pictures from your closet, and synch social media pictures to create context around your lifestyle. When it comes to choosing a stylist, clients have the option of letting Wishi match them upon completing the profile OR choosing a stylist before completing the profile. This is noteworthy because, in retail industry terms, it means that stylists are able to jump in and help clients at the beginning of the customer journey.

The average user demographic is a working mom in her mid-30s (women account for $7 trillion in spending and 85% of all consumer purchases). She has neither the time to search for the right outfit nor the patience to scroll through every Instagram influencer, celebrity endorsement, Pinterest board, and new e-commerce website. Instead of spending time scouring her closet and the internet, she trusts the Wishi stylist to mix and match her closet items (now uploaded into her online profile) and to send shoppable links for new items (based on the now completed profile questions). The stylist asks for feedback throughout the experience, keeping the client engaged and interactive. It surmounts to an instantly gratifying, personalized, shopping experience.

Wishi’s stylists are not paid on commission, which ensures they have free, unbiased reign to shop the internet for their clients. Non-commission-based transactions are unusual for retail sales, but it’s working. According to FarFetched, there is an 85% conversion to purchase rate when there is a Wishi stylist between the client and the product, making it much more likely that the client will purchase the item. According to Statista, by 2021, 53.9% of all retail e-commerce is expected to be generated via m-commerce – i.e. on mobile devices.

Available on the App Store, Wishi’s booking widget also integrates with social media (Instagram), music festivals (Coachella), dating apps (Bumble) and travel companies (Contiki). This is innovative for omnichannel; meet the customer in her context. It creates a proactive way for stylists to support the client. For example, did you know that the Google search “What to wear to a Taylor Swift concert” spiked by 1250% this summer? Wishi’s stylists could have predicted this even before Google trends reported it – stylists engage with clients before the Google search.

Wishi’s technology empowers human based relationships, and in turn, drives sales. Fashion retailers pay attention, female-founded Wishi is an innovator to watch.  Let’s hear it for the girls. New York Fashion Week September 2018 watch out, wishi is behind fashion street style 2018.

Workville’s coworking space recently hosted Wishi for an interview (click here). Email info@workvillenyc.com to learn more about the female founders in our network. 

Download the wishi app to learn more about how it works.

For the fashionistas, follow Wishi’s Instagram to see what’s trending from New York’s Fashion Week 2018 and the latest fashion street style 2018. 

 

What to Wear?! Workville Found a Solution to Getting Ready Faster

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Workville’s President & COO, Sue Bernstock, was recently interviewed by the on-demand personal stylist platform, Wishi . Read below to see why Sue swears by Wishi (hint: it saves time and money). 

Tell me / us a little bit about where you work?I’m the President & COO of, Workville, a premier coworking space in NYC. I love curating a private club experience for our members. We attract talented, growth-stage companies; I strive to foster a productive, friendly experience for them. Style in a coworking space is a funny thing, there are no real rules. Our members dress a bit more professionally than the typical startup uniform of tshirt, jeans, and flip-flops.

How would you describe your shopping habits and style?

I try to be a smart shopper, investing in nice foundational pieces each season and then layering in the fun, inexpensive, throw-away items. Recently, my strategic shopping had become more like careless shopping. Rather than thinking through what to wear, I’d run to a fast-fashion store to buy a quick pick-me-up. The thing is though, fast fashion pieces aren’t really that cheap and the tailoring isn’t really that flattering. It was detracting from the expensive, flattering items I had thoughtfully selected and it was adding up to be a waste of money.

I used to enjoy shopping and fashion because I think it’s a reflection of who you are and the lifestyle you lead. Cue the sappy music as I describe that on a deeper level, what I was wearing on the outside wasn’t representing who I am today.

About three years ago I went through a major professional change. I quit my job in fashion and built up a career in the startup world (at Workville) basically from scratch. The clothes from my fashion-career didn’t feel right anymore while the ones I was buying left something to be desired, but I didn’t know what that was…

What inspired you to book your first Wishi appointment?

Packing – that was the catalyst for my first appointment. I was packing for a beach weekend out East, something I normally look forward to. But I looked in my closet and didn’t see anything I liked, which really put a damper on my excitement.

I decided it was wasteful to buy new clothes for a weekend getaway. It was time to invest in myself by investing in a stylist, to breathe new life and longevity into my wardrobe.

I literally picked up my phone mid-packing, booked my session, and then spent the commute to the beach setting up my profile and being styled by Clea. Honestly, the session was instantly gratifying. It put some pep back into my step!

So this explains why you decided to book a stylist – Why did you choose Wishi?

Well, actually, I wouldn’t have booked a stylist if it weren’t’ for Wishi. I happen to be familiar with Wishi because it’s well respected. The technology driving their platform is innovative and the co-founders are hardworking and genuine. I had an intrinsic feeling of trust that if I booked with Wishi, I would be getting a thoughtful, personal, easy experience. Expectations were exceeded!

My goal for the stylist session was to conceptualize the “new me” through inspirational ideas, mood boards, and some new clothes. I didn’t realize she would also teach me easy tricks like which accessories to layer for versatility and which unexpected items in my closet mix and match well together.

wishi's app helped Workville's president get dressed for street style fashion week for New York's September 2018 Fashion Week.

 

How have your stylist’s choices helped you get dressed?

Two words: Time Saver. Confidence Booster. That was four words actually…and they are equally important!

During the session, I quickly described my lifestyle to Clea, the stylist I booked and was floored by her intuit. In my personal life, for example, I wanted new options for date nights – I had been feeling pretty blah about my “date night outfits.”

My jaw dropped when she sent the date night options. Clea styled outfits that could easily be dressed up or down, worn with heels or flats (what if the guy is short!) and that flattered my figure. It was as if I had confided in a best friend, but in actuality, I hadn’t specified many of my styling conundrums. She intuitively understood; it was really fun how easily Clea knew what I’d need for this part of my life.

She also made it simple for me to replicate the outfit suggestions; turns out it can be as simple as adding a classic belt to highlight the waistline.  

As for work, I like to be both professional and approachable. I’m frequently member-facing, and sometimes even help with members’ PR – like filming a Shark Tank spot on the fly. I’m also on my feet a lot, so being comfortable is essential too. Clea did it again for my professional life; she knew exactly what I needed. She styled pieces from my closet and also suggested new items to add longevity to my wardrobe.

I thought I may be shooting for the stars when I asked Clea to layer in sustainable or eco-conscious brands. I like the idea of being a conscience shopper but was not patient enough to find the right brands. (It’s hard enough remembering to bring your own bag to the grocery and metal straw to the bar!) Before I could finish typing a half-apology for the high-maintenance eco request, Clea had already sent me shoppable links for chic, eco-friendly items. 

Overall, the styling session with Wishi was very rewarding. I now save a lot of time getting ready.  Clea created virtual mood boards and virtual outfits for me, which I reference before I get dressed; and I feel good when I put on the clothes because I’m excited about the outfits. This new routine takes 10 minutes tops and is really fun.

Will you book your Wishi stylist again?

Yes! It’s going to be a seasonal thing. Rather than throwing money at fast-fashion, I’m moving part of that budget into styling sessions. I can’t wait to share with Clea the items I have invested in for the season, my lifestyle updates, and then let her work her magic. It’s such a fun and worthwhile investment not only in my closet but in myself. I appreciate how passionate the Wishi stylists are about providing a personal experience.

Clea also styled me for New York Fashion Week September 2018 in classy but fun fashion week street style.

Workville’s Thought Leaders Outline a Disruptors Guide to Digital Marketing

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Keeping up with digital marketing is like keeping up with the Joneses. Digital marketing is an ever-changing landscape, with Google, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Kylie Jenner at the forefront. We put together a strategy, with the help of the disruptor and thought leaders in our workspace, to keep you ahead of the digital marketing landscape.

Before we jump into the strategy, let’s review the statistics.  

The average company allocates 41% of their marketing budget to digital marketing (Forester 2018 Research). By next year, mobile will account for 72% of digital ad spend (Forbes). Social media is the most popular content marketing tactic for 90% of business-to-consumer businesses; 94% of business-to-business marketers use LinkedIn in their content strategy. Overall, Facebook and Google will capture 56.8% of the U.S. digital ad market in 2018 (eMarketer poll). Americans spend +11 hours per day on a digital device. Over the last year, 60% of people started using voice search.

 

NOW THAT WE HAVE THE FACTS, HERE’S THE STRATEGY. 

SEO trends will shift from shorthand back to full sentences.

SEO requires a consistent output of content marketing and backlinks in order to increase website ranking. Search engine terms tend to be entered as keywords, which read as a sentence fragment (apologies to English teachers everywhere). Companies then incorporate commonly searched keywords in content marketing, along with helpful answers.

For example, if you are looking for the best chocolate chip ice cream in New York City, your typed search may look similar to this: “best choco chip ice cream NYC”. In turn, the ice cream shop’s content will mirror your keywords with content similar to this: “Why we have the best choco chip ice cream NYC”.

So, what happens now that 60% of people started using voice search?  

We predict the return of full sentences! It will be colloquial, so English teachers can’t rejoice yet – but SEO terms should start including full sentences and command sentences. Examples of voice search terms are as follows: “Alexa, what is the best chocolate chip ice cream in New York?” or “Alexa, play Frozen”.

Check Google Analytics to determine the optimal search engine split for your company. If users predominately employ voice search then it’s time to include full sentences rather than keywords! If the split is closer to a 70% typed search versus 30% voice search than continue using keywords for content marketing.

If Americans spend +11 hours on a digital device, chatbots and AI are key to enhancing their digital experience.

When used correctly, Chatbots and AI are a big asset to the customer experience. We’re accustomed to the comical errors, such as an AI assistant gone haywire and sending follow-up emails 30 minutes apart. Or a mass email that employs code to guess the addressee’s first name.

The key is to embrace AI and chatbots as an augmentation to customer service, rather than as a management tool for the entire experience. This is because machine learning is still in the early phase of development; typically AI and chatbots can only handle one specific task or command at a time. “Chatbots can ‘step in’ for routine tasks such as answering straightforward questions…or taking payment details.”(Forbes)

AI and chatbots can also monitor conversations and notify the company when it’s time for a real person to engage in the chat. This is done through sentiment analytics, which analyze the tone of the conversation and prompt employees in real-time that the customer needs personal attention.

In the future, chatbots will be able to manage complete experiences and even be able to advise on strategy. For now, though, embrace Chatbots and AI as an enhancement tool.

Here’s a curveball to digital marketing strategy; Facebook and Google’s market share is expected to decrease in 2019.

Facebook and Google already experienced a market share drop from 58.5% last year to 56.8% this year. Facebook, in particular, is in the eye of the storm, as it is no longer considered a growth stock and recently dropped 20% on the stock market.

The anticipated decrease in ad spend on these platforms is two-fold.

Governments are cracking down on the digital marketing wild west by instating laws that protect consumer data. As of May 2018, the European Union GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) came into effect, outlining strict requirements for the processing of individuals’ personally identifiable information. GDPR is a big deal – it greatly impacts how non-EU based companies handle data from EU-based users. In sum, EU-based data must be stored in a separate database, EU users must have a right to opt out of data storage, and EU users must have the right to delete day-to-day data. The fines are hefty for noncompliance. It’s been reported that Google and Facebook already face up to $9.3 billion combined! So, if your Google ads target the EU, make sure to store the customers’ information in a separate database and all data usage must adhere to the GDPR laws.

The good news is that advertising options continue to diversify, with virtual reality and augmented reality still in the early phase of development. Experts are projecting that by 2020 AR and VR will be over a $90 billion industry. The success of Pokemon Go was an early validator,  achieving over 100 million downloads in the first month. Local businesses that paid to participate in Pokemon Go also experienced a revenue boost. Exactly how AR and VR will continue to shape out as an advertising vehicle continues to be determined, with Apple leading the pack.

Our team at Workville works with many of our members to ensure that we stay ahead of the trends. Chatbots are coming soon to our website – but only as an experience enhancement to answer FAQ. Our team will continue to be hands-on with the personal experience. For companies expanding into the NYC market, but not yet able to visit Workville for a tour, we’re happy to send virtual tours. Similar augmented experiences are also coming to our website soon!

To learn more about the thought leadership that Workville fosters, contact us for a tour: info@workvillenyc.com or 646-362-1449.

Workville coworking space startups project management meeting

Management Tips From Tech Leaders

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“WHAT GETS MEASURED, GETS IMPROVED.”

-PETER DRUCKER

Workville is known as New York City’s best coworking space because of the talented community we foster. There’s a friendly buzz of productivity and success in the air; members value their workday in our inspiring environment. They frequently stop by the management office to share best practices and funny, behind-the-scenes stories of how to build a scaling company. We love hearing their best practices and stories. Below are the top three management tips we’ve learned from our community. 

Workville coworking space startups project management meeting

 

PROJECT MANAGEMENT:

Teamwork is a fan favorite here. Members use it for managing projects from start to finish because it creates a clear workflow across functions. The platform streamlines information into one management system, integrates with other applications, and is intuitive to use. Collaborators can easily add files, images, feedback and most importantly for productivity, can easily track the status. For our satellite office members, this centralized information flow is really important – they frequently work with teams based on the West Coast or abroad.

We use Teamwork for web development projects; collaborators include the Workville team, our member Bklyn Co, and his graphic design teams based in Dublin and Moscow. Anecdotally, Teamwork makes project management feel seamless, so we sometimes forget that our collaborators are based all over the world, working from different time zones. We are guilty of calling the Dublin team at 4am (their time) just to say “love the status update and new design!”. Whoops, early am is not the best time for a compliment. So buyer beware, the one thing Teamwork can’t streamline is different time zones. 😉

PROFESSIONAL WRITING

 Grammarly is like Word 10.0. It’s a writing assistant tool powered by AI. We had the privilege of seeing the founder pitch at Israeli Pitch Day; it was one of those aha moments when we knew we had just met the next unicorn.

Our members use Grammarly to ensure all documents and emails are professional, without any spelling or grammatical errors. Schools and universities recommend Grammarly as a real-time educational tool. The platform recaps mistakes, explains grammar rules or spelling context pertaining to the mistake and makes vocabulary enhancement suggestions.

Members give Grammarly a thumbs-up because it’s like having a personal editor plus English teacher, which is especially helpful for anyone whom English is a second language.

HUDDLE MEETINGS

startups use football huddle for project management

Team Huddle is not a tool per say, it’s an ethos. In our community, almost every company uses the Team Huddle approach. Whether it’s a daily or weekly huddle, the goal is to review project status, add clarity to any steps, and to problem solve.

Our blockchain companies choose to have one person lead the huddle (the project lead), while our adtech companies choose a more interactive approach in which everyone provides a status update. The huddle format is what makes these meetings effective – stay standing and keep the meeting between 10 – 20 minutes max. Standing-up helps keep the meeting short and to the point.

Team Huddle’s are a check-in meeting to enhance productivity. Adding new projects or extra talking points deters from productivity. The term “team huddle” is inspired by Football huddles, which are timed and focus only on the next plays in the game.  So, our members recommend that if you feel the huddle getting off track or going overtime, jump in as the team quarterback, wrap up the meeting. Conclude a good huddle with clearly defined action steps and motivators.

To learn more effective management tips from our community, visit us at 1412 Broadway. Contact info@workvillenyc.com.

Workville NYC best coworking space founders

To Accelerator or Not?

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Tech Accelerators are becoming as prevalent as a workout class at SoulCycle. The questions to consider before applying are who benefits from accelerators and how will it add value.

Early stage companies that have strong founders, a consistent team, and product or service already in development benefit from accelerators. The intense curriculum, networking and demo day can catapult startups to the next stage (hence the name accelerator). Here are the key benefits well-defined early-stage startups gain from accelerators:

  • Networking, which includes access to large companies, investors, and the startup community. The connections formed in accelerators are vetted, so this is a great opportunity to form substantial relationships.
  • Training and mentoring, which are key for development. The intense curriculum is an opportunity to learn new skills and best practices. Curriculums often focus on product development, new customer acquisition, investor pitches, and legal advice. Mentors offer guidance that help startups unlock insights to achieve that next level of success. The schedule can be so intense that it also becomes a crash course in time management. Teams learn to quickly process information and filter through advice for that golden piece of wisdom (a great life skill in addition to career skill!).
  • Investment, which means the acceptance rate is low for top accelerators but the personal investment in success is high. Accelerators invest a set amount of capital in startups in exchange for equity. Capital investment also keeps the accelerator dedicated to the company success.

The consistent piece of advice from accelerator graduates, if you choose the accelerator route, make sure it’s the right fit. Graduates point out that although accelerators are a great option, it does require a large time commitment and giving up equity. Ask yourself if these factors will likely pay-off.

  • Consider if the networking, curriculum, and mentors have the right expertise to compliment your company needs.
  • The top accelerators (Y Combinator, Grand Central Tech, Accenture’s FinTech Innovation Lab, MassChallenge, Dreamit, to name a few) may require relocating, so determine if this is the right time to relocate or if it will be too disruptive.
  • Also, consider the environment. Some accelerators are geared to attract the post-college entrepreneurs, while other accelerator programs are in a more established office-type environment.

The United States alone has over 200 accelerators, with the top ones receiving over 5,000 applications per program. It is competitive to get accepted into the elite programs, so if you determine the time is right to apply, feel confident that there is something out there for everyone. The right fit will jump-start you to the next step.

The follow-up question is, what happens after the accelerator?

WorkVille‘s coworking space is home to many accelerator graduates, many are from YC and Accenture’s programs. After the intense accelerator, they choose Workville because we offer a similar professional, friendly environment, but we give them the autonomy to focus on their own work. Our team takes care of their everyday needs and creates a friendly, productive atmosphere for them to thrive.

To learn more about what our founders have to say, and to take a tour of Workville, contact info@workvillenyc.com.

The Tech Industry is Booming, Here’s How to Hire Top Talent

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According to a Tech:NYC study published in Bloomberg, New York-based tech jobs increased  30% over the past 10 years; twice the city’s economic growth in the same time period. Politicians are funding major Tech Accelerators and Institutions to further drive the tech boom, one of biggest initiatives being Cornell University and Technion-Israel Institute. More commonly known as Cornell-Tech, the campus opened in September 2017 on Roosevelt Island with the help of a $100 million grant from the city. With the industry growing rapidly, the question is, how do you choose the right talent for your company. Below are the top five questions  Inc. lists as the “must ask”.

Top 5 Interview Questions Startups should ask: 

1.   Tell me about a time there was no clear answer to a project. What did you do? How did you move forward?Startups succeed when comprised of an enterprising team, a team that thrives on the challenge of brainstorming, analyzing, testing, refining. Look for resourceful, action-oriented talent. Candidates that are comfortable with building as they go.

2.   Tell me about a time when you worked in a fast-changing environment. What did you do when priorities shifted? Since the nature of a startup is to disrupt an industry, there will not always be a clear plan for how; it will take some trial and error. Entrepreneurs that are  agile and react quickly are great hires.

3.   Tell me about a time you were given constructive feedback. How did you respond? Feedback is pivotal for any job – there’s a reason professional athletes spend hours watching Game Day tapes; it’s important for personal growth to learn from any mistakes or to recreate any good plays. Employees that do well with honest, transparent feedback as part of the constant learning process are the best employees.

4.   Tell me about the last time your day ended before you were able to get everything done. This is a clever way of asking if the prospective hire will be okay working long hours. Of course, determine what your company culture is before asking this question – is it an occasional late night or two, or is your company a 24/7 type culture? You’ll also learn insights into the candidate’s soft skills; how do they communicate if their workload is too much or if the deadline will not be met.

5.   Tell me about a time you had to raise an uncomfortable issue with another employee. Then tell me about a time you praised a coworker. What did you do? Culture is extremely important. Particularly when hiring for a team that works closely together, and on challenging projects, which is pretty much how every startup operates. “In a challenging environment like a startup, people tend to be closer-knit and form tighter bonds. The best startup teams support each other, embrace a common purpose, feel that they are in it together… and in the process, transform what was a collection of individuals into a real team.”

Once the talent is hired, the next step is retention. The office environment is frequently cited as a big factor in retention.  According to Business.com, 74% of coworkers are more productive in a coworking space. In our coworking space, we definitely see that productivity is the norm.  Most of our members are so productive that they achieve work/life balance, leaving the office by 6pm, and throughout the day they make the startup life look effortless and fun.

Workville’s office design and personal, hospitality approach to helping members leads to productivity. This is a primary reason Workville has a high membership retention rate, 95% of our member companies stay with us, with the 5% moving out largely because of location change to a new city or because they are moving into an accelerator program. The member companies themselves have high retention rates too. Member companies often feature Workville in promotional videos for employee prospecting, as a showcase of the happy, productive, inspiring culture.

The Workville team loves supporting our scaling member companies. Contact info@workvillenyc.com to learn more about our member retention rate and the best practices our members use to successfully hire and retain leading talent.

Workville Coworking Space Member Company in Conference Room

Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Facebook’s Mistakes

By | Announcements, Co-Working, companies, Newsletter, services, Uncategorized | No Comments

Mark Zuckerburg’s Congressional hearings, the power of Facebook as an advertising vehicle, the affect Facebook had on national elections…there is so much to digest when it comes to the news about Facebook. It’s only a matter of time before business schools write “mandatory reading” case studies, and Aaron Sorkin produces the sequel to The Social Network.

The Workville team is paying close attention to it all. We decided to break down Facebook’s rise and mistakes from our own angle. What are the key lessons entrepreneurs should learn from Facebook’s mistakes? 

Aaron Sorkin The Social Network movie poster image about Facebook

Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission statement was to make the world more open and connected. Facebook now has more than 2 billion active users internationally. Mark Zuckerburg pioneered the social media industry and with it, the advent of targeted advertising algorithms. Facebook has since skyrocketed from a social network to internet dominance. Meanwhile, Facebook made the same mistakes repeatedly but never implemented a system of checks and balances. Repeated mistakes become monumental errors, which they are now facing in court. Here is a timeline of their biggest mistakes, and how it all adds up:

2004: Facebook establishes the mission statement “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

The Problem: As summarized by Tech Crunch, this mission statement  “had one fundamental flaw: it didn’t push for any specific positive outcome from more connection. Technically, it could encompass digital voyeurism via the News Feed, trading in-person friendship for online acquaintanceship or the filter bubbles and echospheres that have further polarized the United States.”

2007: Facebook introduced the tracking program Beacon, an innovative way to use their technology across websites. This enabled fifty Million Facebook users’ activities to be tracked on other websites (Travelocity, Fandango, The Knot, Overstock.com, and so on). Users purchasing behavior was then posted on their Facebook newsfeed.

The Problem: Beacon tracked behavior without clearly asking for user approval This violated Facebook’s terms and conditions, and basic consumer privacy. So much for that surprise vacation booked on Travelocity or that surprise birthday gift purchased from Overstock.com…

Facebook apologized for the release and recalled Beacon.

2008: OpenID is introduced, enabling users to sign into other sites with Facebook credentials. OpenID is so user-friendly that it became hugely popular, helping skyrocket Facebook’s internet dominance.

With the success of OpenID, Facebook decided to also make the “like” button available on other sites. The “like” button is twofold, it’s fun and it tracks individual browsing history across these sites. Even for non-Facebook users.

Next, a year after OpenID’s successfully launch, Facebook added another update in which users profiles were public by default, and could be searched by anyone.

The Problem: Behavior tracking and making private profiles public violates privacy. In 2012 Facebook settled with the FTC, implementing a privacy policy which a) asks users permission before broadly sharing their information and b)enforces third-party privacy audits for a duration of 20-years. The regular audits were put into effect to prevent Facebook’s habit of “share first, ask later”.

2013: 6 million Facebook users had their contact information, including phone numbers and emails, inadvertently exposed. Even non-Facebook users had their contact information exposed if it had been listed in their friends’ contact information.

Facebook issued an explanation; they experienced a bug that led to the data breach. Here is a snippet of their response: “It’s likely that anyone who saw this is not a stranger to you.”

The Problem: Users did not know that Facebook inadvertently stored contact information they shared with other websites. More importantly though, once the mistake happened, the response was remarkably pragmatic and unapologetic.

To take a page from Elon Musk’s recent tweet about Tesla errors. “Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.” Or in the case of Facebook, excessive innovation without consideration is a mistake. Empathy is underrated.

2016: Facebook miscalculated performance metrics of the videos published on their platform, inflating the average amount of time videos were viewed.

Facebook Advertising dollar graph

https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/25/facebook-q1-2018-earnings/

The Problem: In 2015, Facebook announced that they made-up 19% of the $70 billion mobile advertising spend worldwide. This means 19% of the market reviewed inflated metrics, resulting in skewed analytics, decision-making, and ad-spends.

2017: Facebook discovered tens of thousands of fake accounts created on their platform. Facebook introduced a news feed for publishers, but through this feed viral fake news spread faster than real news. Facebook sold users data, without consent, to the political data firm Cambridge Analytica, which was then used to create targeted political ads.

Whoa. 2017 is one big problem year.

Problem #1: Fake People. Facebook deletes tens of thousands fake accounts that were inflating the number of “likes” on news outlets. This was determined during the run-up national elections in France and Germany.

Similarly, in the US, Facebook nixes millions of fake “likes” and followers that targeted news outlets. USA Today alone lost nearly six million overnight. The FBI is now involved in identifying the source of fake accounts, and the spam purpose behind these accounts.

Problem #2: Fake News. Facebook rolls out a new feature; publishing news stories. The sources though are not vetted – fake election news stories outperformed real ones. Many of the viral fake election stories were run out of Russia.

Facebook revealed that during the U.S. presidential campaign, it unwittingly sold about $100,000 of ads to fake accounts linked to Russia. The ads were estimated to have reached as many as 126 million people. In response, Facebook rolled out a tool to allow users to check who’s behind the ads.

Facebook fake news line graph

Problem #3: Cambridge Analytica acquired data on 50 million Facebook members. The data was subsequently used to develop “psychographic” profiles, and create targeted political campaigns, which were used in the U.S. presidential campaign.

In the acquisition of detailed data by Cambridge Analytica, privacy policies are once again violated.  Facebook did not properly vet the data deal and the integrity of their new partner company.

In sum, the leadership and technology mistakes made by a young company were never corrected, and so, the molehill grew into the mountain. Now, Facebook is on trial for what can be summed as astronomical negligence at the cost of users privacy, advertisers dollars, and national elections.

Taking the entrepreneurial perspective – course correcting internal processes while simultaneously scaling new technology from startup to unicorn, well, that is a hefty challenge. Therefore, the biggest takeaway for entrepreneurs is simple: do not wait until unicorn status; learn and improve as you go so that challenges and changes are surmountable. Build your company with the most important foundation of all, integrity.

For Facebook, this means the lessons they should have learned are to invite users to have a say in major upgrades/platform changes, create internal checks and balances, vet partner companies, and act with integrity. 

Here’s the Workville commitment to our coworking members:

  1. Major updates and upgrades are member-approved. We run big decisions by our members first.

In the example of Facebook, surely someone would have said “bad idea” if they had run Beacon tracking by anyone outside of their internal team.

  1. Integrity is more important than the rush to market.

Facebook was a young company when they introduced Beacon technology. Rather than learning from the mistake though, they did it again. Introducing the “like” button across sites was a similar violation of member privacy. This rush to market, aka do first and ask later,  exploits implicit trust between customers and company.

3. Act with empathy. This is a big one for Workville.

We add improvements to the member experience by first asking what they want, and then backing into the “how can we make this happen”.

Data guides decisions, but we also take the time to listen. Too much data creates a disconnect between what the member is actually feeling and why. Data can also be skewed by unreliable sources (or in the extreme version of Facebook – skewed, unqualified, and even fake sources.)

With the launch of OpenId Facebook had the capability to make private profiles public, but that doesn’t mean anyone liked it or wanted it.

Mistakes happen, but what happens next is character defining. For us, it’s important to acknowledge, apologize, and course correct.

In Facebook’s case in which 60 million phone numbers being inadvertently revealed, a proper apology is due. Saks Fifth Avenue exemplifies how to act on a proper apology when a mistake does happen.

4. Commitment to the member experience.

This means we vet every partner company to ensure they align with the Workville mission.

Every decision remains steadfastly centered around our goal of creating a happy, productive, workspace for New York City’s thought leaders.

Email info@workvillenyc.com to learn more about Workville’s commitment to their members.

Workville NYC Coworking Space entpreneurs

Fortune 500 companies embrace Coworking

By | Announcements, brands, Co-Working, companies, networking, Partnerships, Uncategorized | No Comments

Coworking has achieved a new level of disruption to the commercial real estate industry.

According to a Q3 Occupier Survey published by brokerage firm CBRE, 44% of corporations use a form of flexible office space solutions. Brokerage firm JLL projects that by 2020, 30% of all office space will feature flexible terms and open layout design. Flexible work schedules and financial incentives are spurring this change, as well as productivity advantages of working in a collaborative, innovative environment.

This is a huge evolution from when the industry began in 2008. Ten years ago coworking spaces were little-known, fledgling operations. The perception was that it was a millenial-driven trend of affordable office space for freelancers and small start-ups.

Now companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Barclays are backing incubators and leasing offices in coworking spaces. There is a clear benefit to funding incubators – it provides direct access to ideation, innovation, and talent. Coworking space offers similar benefits. Teams accustomed to internal office politics can now be immersed in the creative energy of dynamic coworking spaces, which leads to innovation and networking with leading disruptors.

The shared cost-benefit of coworking is also a driving force in its exponential growth. Shared workspace makes sense for any company entering a new market. From Fortune 500’s to startups, expansion strategies usually start with small, agile teams. Agile growth plans require flexible office space and low overhead. Brokreage firm, Colliers, sites flexible shared office space as a 25% savings on rent alone. There is, of course, the additional savings from the shared amenities.

Coworking space design is also leading innovation, with floorplans that emphasize human-centric design to generate collaboration. Or more simply, sometimes employees just want to move around during the day to keep their energy fresh and productivity levels high.

The question is – how well do corporate personalities and entrepreneurs mix together in one workspace?

Workville’s midtown coworking space bridges the gap between leading startups and corporations. Experienced entrepreneurs and founders choose the Workville shared space.

Having previously held executive-level corporate positions, or previously launched a startup that was acquired by a corporation, Workville’s members are well connected. They embrace coworking for the entrepreneurial spirit it fosters. Ideation and innovation are driven by an inherent love for problem-solving. Entrepreneurs see industry gaps and enjoy pushing the limits in order to pioneer solutions. In addition, experienced entrepreneurs understand the value of knowledge, resources, and mass market appeal that corporations offer.

Workville’s welcoming workspace fosters the synergy between growth stage startups, Fortune 500 companies, and the Venture Capitalists funding startups. Workville achieves this by maintaining the very essence of NYC’s tech scene – a shared, friendly experience with an incredibly smart, tight-knit community in which everyone’s value is appreciated.

workville nyc coworking space lounge area

Email info@workvillenyc.com to learn more about Workville’s ecosystem of industry leaders.

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