When I started to prepare my strategy for 2016, last december, I used the model of Yuri van Geest and Salim Ismail known of the Singularity University. This model is explained in their book ‘Exponential Organizations’, business book of the year 2014, in which they explain why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours. A book that I find to be very useful in developing my strategy, since they explain in their book about their research into startups and why they succeed or fail. Turns out there are several factors that indicate a startup is going to succeed. So all the more reason for me to check if I have these factors covered.
At first they say a startup has to have a so called MTP: a massive transformative purpose. You can compare a MTP with the Why of Simon Sinek (The golden circle) and the value proposition of the Business Model Canvas. For Peer!, my Seats2meet location, that is building on a new economy. Building a mesh, a network of companies and communities that create value to one another with new business models, fair and sustainable trade. (why) We facilitate business meetings in the new economy (what), which makes this happen.
Yuri and Salim present their model with a picture of a brain with a left and right brain: the left part stands for order, control and stability and the right part for creativity, growth and uncertainty. With both parts they have five factors that need to be covered, will your startup be a success. I will share with you my analysis of my location with you on every one of these factors.
Staff on demand
Besides my business partner and I, I do not have any employees. However, there are working approximately 20 persons for us. So we have a 100% flexible workforce. The people that are working for us pay with social capital for what we give them: a free workspace, a network, a place where they can meet and develop themselves. We have a facilitator that leads meetings an workshops, a twitter reporter that makes a twitter report of a meeting and hosts that receive guests and introduce them to our community and our ways. They do not just tell where the coffee and the toilets are, but especially how we work with social and monetary capital and how they can tap into the collective knowledge of Seats2meet. We even have an IT-project manager, an office manager and an event manager. In all the cases the exchange of value must feel good: what we give and what we receive must be in balance.
Community and crowd
We spend a lot of time in building our community. We do that on the location as well as online. To improve the interaction online, the members of the community also blog on our website and we share this on our social media. The authors share it also, which gives us more visibility. On the location we organize events and every day we lunch together and ask people to help each other: do they have a question about software, social media or about a possible client? There is always another community member that has the answer. Also the contributing to the community with labor and subgroups on a theme that find project together add value to the community. We have two groups now: Innovation and Events&promotion. They are a collaboration of freelancers that present themselves as a network within the mesh.
As I am no It-specialist, an certainly have no knowledge of data science or algorithms, I am very happy that Seats2meet International helps me out on this one. They put all their effort in increasing the value we can offer to our clients with software for meeting and exchanging knowledge. The software for meeting the relevant people was already available for the workspaces, but the software for the meeting spaces is now developing and it looks great! I have used it during a meeting with 50 guests lately and I could share my experience with the developers, so that they can use it to continue building.
In this factor for me the main goal is to have access, not ownership. Ownership means maintenance, administration, etc. So I can tell you I have no fixed costs but the service costs of the owner of the building where our location is and the subscription on the coffee(machine). We order catering if a client orders with us, so that are variable costs. We have no outstanding loan. The rent we have is a profit-related rent. This means that after we paid our costs (like catering, cleaning, coffee and so forth) we share the profit with the owner of the building. What also is a new business model, is that we have just half of a floor (the workspace and coffee corner) as a steady, continuous factor. For the meeting spaces we use the not rented offices in the building. There we put a conference table, chairs, art and a whiteboard. When the room is rented, we move the interior to another free space in the building.
The engagement is visible: on the website you can see the reviews of our customers. We are open for social deals: we can organize an event of workshop together with a trainer or company and share the profits or we can give a discount on the monetary capital if there is an extra exchange of value. For example if the company or person does something for the community, therefore for Peer!. The things we do to build the community also contribute to the engagement of the people that work at our location.
I already mentioned the software for meeting and exchanging knowledge, so that’s covered. Off course Mirjam and I are also interfaces, we do manually what the software does: we always get to know a client and what he does, so we can make connections and give tips to them who to contact. The Seats2meet-software also provides us an interface for the clients to book their meeting spaces online and it translates to our internal processes, like invoicing, administration and CRM.
The Seats2meet-software provides us with a dashboard on profits per month/year/day and makes yield management possible. For my navigation, I use a simple excel-sheet for the organization goals and activities. For sales I use the free tool Hubspot, in which I can put all the contact that are not a client (yet) and monitor my Sales Funnel.
We are doing several experiments: professionalizing our workshops and trainings to Peer Academy, building on an art community Spaces4art, constantly experimenting with social deals and creating extra value for the community.
Here Yuri and Salim mean self-organized multidisciplinary teams that act under a decentralized authority. Well, we have a network structure and the people that work with us, are a member of teams. Every team has his own task and can decide and work together to finish these tasks. Because we have our location for only one year, I participate in a lot of these teams, so decisions can be made quickly. If I am not there, the host of the day makes the decisions.
If you have read about the community building and engagement, you probably know that we are also social. We use the Seats2meet-software for making relevant meetings possible, keep in touch with our community online through social media and ask them to contribute actively to the content of our social media. We also have room for people with a distance to the labor market. They work with us with what they can do. They grow into a new profile of skills, when they want a job switch or re-integrate. Everything is possible, what is most important is the agreement we make: what is the exchange of value and for how many hours, which tasks, etc. That is the deal and if it takes the person to do it in a week or one day, doesn’t matter. It is important that they contribute to the community and feel they have a useful day filling. The freelancers, companies and people that re-integrate are all working together and there is no difference of rank. They are all members of the community and the network of Peer!.