[Founder] Running a coworking space in New York
Meet Shlomo Silber, Founder of Bond Collective — By Coworkies.
Bond Collective is to the coworking world what Ace Hotel is to the Hotel industry: a beautifully designed environment thriving to make people connect. While in New York, we had the immense pleasure to visit 3 of Bond Collective locations (Thank you Drew, Matt and Christina for the tours) and really fall in love with their sense of design and details. We interviewed Shlomo, the Founder, to better understand his journey through coworking and learn more about his story.
Tell us, how did you end up starting Bond Collective?
Few years ago, I had a construction company involved in real estate in New York. My company was a startup which was working for a bigger real estate developer. When I started I used to borrow some space to work from him and then as things became bigger I thought I needed an office of my own as well.
I have always been passionate about design and community but never really heard of the coworking concept before. One day, I went to go visit a friend of mine who was an attorney who went off on his own and started working out of a shared space. I walked in and right away the whole concept blew my mind. I had what I call a AH AH moment. Seeing people working together in either offices or shared space made me really want to do something like this. I also felt that between my construction and real estate background it was something that I could do.
Initially, we were just going to open one space where I could have my construction company as well as a coworking space in it where everyone have his own office but then it grew and became much bigger.
Each of your spaces have a very unique interior design, how do you work on that?
We have our own in-house design team. I have a passion for design and together with our director of design we really take each project one by one and look at it and discuss what type of neighborhood this is, what type of feel should it have and how can we build it around the community itself. That’s why each space is a little bit different because there is a different look and feel for it.
How do you build a sense of togetherness between the members at Bond Collective?
I think this is through our design. The design is this feeling that makes you feel comfortable within the space, wether you want to network or work. It creates this unique and better vibe. Then it’s the members themselves who want to be part of a community that engage with each other. We make it as convenient as possible for them to be able to interact by doing events, happy hours and things along those lines where they can get a chance to come out of their office, sit around and hang out a little bit.
When you walk in Gowanus for instance, you have this immediate feeling of “this is where I want to work, this is where I want to interact with people”. It’s also very much part of our community managers. They are all very passionate about what we are doing and about the space itself and they take ownership of the space like if it were their baby.
If you have those community managers that really cares and really want to build a community, they will infuse the culture with that community.
What fascinates you about coworking and what are the challenges you are facing?
I think the challenge comes as you grow and remain able to keep that sort of vibe and feel I described before. When you are small (for us just in New York for instance) you can go in every single of our location in one day if you wanted to. Therefore it’s a smaller team, it’s more like a small family. But as you grow and you have more employees, then more spaces in different cities, how do you keep that sort of secret sauce that you own, that hospitality, community management and design. That’s something that is a challenge for us and something very important that we really want to get right. This is what we are focusing on now, building our Operations around it, empower our community managers and keeping that vibe that we have.
What’s next for Bond Collective? Anything you can talk about?
We just started our national expansion, we are about to sign in a few cities. We will be expanding it to a couple of marketplaces we really like.
How did coworking evolved since you started Cowork|rs and how did you adjusted to the market with Bond Collective?
What happened when we started originally was a learning curve for myself as well as a learning curve for the entire industry, where coworking was this great culture, you could have an open room and invite people to work together. Now as the market evolves, the concept became more of a corporate culture in a good and in a bad sense, meaning a lot of bigger enterprise companies are now working out of shared spaces and I am very excited to see that part of coworking, but there has been a lot of competition and a lot of different type of spaces.
We felt our first stage was our beta-tested space so it was more of a generic coworking space, it was very cool and we had a great time doing it but we realized we would not be able to elevate the brand more towards hospitality and more towards services and that’s why when we opened up our new spaces we rebranded to elevate the brand. It’s our coworkrs 2.0 and that’s really what Bond Collective is — a collection of spaces that is surrounded by dynamic design as well as hospitality. That’s really the future. People are going to be looking for spaces with so many opportunities. They are going to want to pick a space where they feel very comfortable in and where they feel they are getting the best services.
In the early years of Bond Collective you collaborated a lot with your members, is that the still case today?
YES! Very much so. It’s funny I was actually at a conference recently called GWA (Global Workspace Association Conference) and one of the booth there was a company that actually work out of our space. The reason why they were there is because we were the first coworking space for them that they ever did a payment platform for. Now it works so well with us that they are going out there to get other companies to sign as well. That’s just a great example of a company that we started with and now they are evolving into the coworking culture based on the working platform they did, working out of a coworking space.
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While writing this interview, we were thrilled to read that Bond Collective announced their new fundraising round of $50 million! Shlomo did an interview on Bond Collective’ blog to discuss their national expansion plans. Read it right here.
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