We’ve met the founder and CEO of Greenspace Paris Amaury de Buchet and asked him a number of questions based on two specific topics relevant to this company : innovation management and the challenges of growth. Greenspace is a coworking space where entrepreneurs, start ups and companies can go to work for a fixed mensual fee.
One thing innovative about the founder is his previous experience, he started his first company when he was still a student at ESCP Europe and managed it in his spare time during his first years working for a US multinational. Later he felt the call to come back to entrepreneurship after health problems. He created Greenspace and started hosting co alumni of ESCP but the networking, serendipity part of his path felt really new to us. One alumni had a free space at rue du Chemin Vert and offered it to Amaury de Buchet. « Innovation is more about opportunity » as he put it.
The innovation that struck us in the actual design is the organisation of offices and the collaborative spirit. The idea of his design comes from collision (innovation according to German architect Günter Henn and researcher Thomas Allen happens within 50 meters of you, when we have collisions between diverse people). The main axis of circulation in the offices is U shaped, so that people can meet randomly, plus there are sofas and seats everywhere for people to sit and have a chat when they feel like it. The communication at Greenspace is also not conventional, entrepreuneurs don’t exchange on the intranet like we would usually do in a big company, but prefer physical conversations in front of the coffee machine (free coffee !). The entrepreneurs themselves are particular, they are chosen by the CEO so that their profile match, he wants a diverse pool of profiles (he also has sort of quotas, 40% freelancers, 20% start ups, rest companies) also they are selected on their capacity to integrate easily into the community. They also give feedbacks on the CEO’s initiatives for the community.
Key idea to retain is the networking effect, entrepreneurs usually apply to Greenspace based on word-of-mouth because the CEO does not have the budget to launch great communication plans (except social networks).
The business model in itself, if not actually disruptive, is original for such an organisation in France. You can rent a place with a non binding agreement, they are only required to stay 1–3 months minimum (great change compared to the 3/6/9 French lease). Also his pricing is changing greatly depending on the customer, if he wants a particular profile, like a graphic designer or a social/environmental innovator, he admitted he would be willing to lower his fee. His margins are really low so he is self financing his expansion, for example he sold his shares of faberNovel, his previous company. Self financing is something that is not taught a lot at ESCP, we hear more about crowdfunding and business angels for the kick off of a company and then the further investments are left aside.
In traditional business, we focus more on KPI to measure company’s performance individually. However, Greenspace focus on its residents’ value creation to the community. It keeps certain percent of start-ups (20%) in its customer base, which are characterized by a low margin and high rotation rate, because these companies add great value to the whole community. He found that lately the start-ups begin to value more the community, and are willing to pay more / stay longer.
His business model is quite risky, and must constantly recruit new members, as people move quite a lot. To complement this he feels the need to teach and do consulting jobs on the side. Nevertheless he invests a lot on upgrading his offers (hence the augmentation of price these last years), looking for new activities to tighten the community, making some constraints more flexible (package reception disturbing, conference room booking complicated for outside clients…)
One striking thing when we asked him about the future (as we are taught to forecast a lot, in strategy course for example), he said he had a lot of plans to power the place but could not say what he will be doing in 1 year, let alone 5 ! Today he is looking into real estate investment as he wants to own actual buildings some day (today he is renting the Greenspace space). We asked him about how set was his business spirit, he said the environnement was completely different a year ago, proof of that he showed us 2016 business card, the logo and key words were completely different.
- Aïda BOUFAÏM
- Camille GREFFIN
- Simone GUZZO
- Nicolai HECHT
- Lauriane HELMER
- Karoline HOLM
- Bicong HU
- Sirui LI
- Sanidhya PAINULI