Raleigh’s Coworks Aims to Power The Workplaces Of The Future—And Present

Coworks' Founder and CEO, DeShawn Brown, presents at the Demo Day for the Google For Entrepreneurs' Black Founders Exchange in October at American Underground.

For Coworks Founder and CEO DeShawn Brown, coworking spaces are more than just a phase. In fact, he thinks that within five years most young employees will expect to work in more coworking-oriented spaces.

“This is the future of the workplace,” Brown said. “It’s a full, cultural and fundamental shift.”

In recent years, more and more coworking spaces have opened up in the Triangle, but as the these spaces have grown, they face problems managing their day-to-day operations.

That’s where Raleigh-based Coworks comes in.

Coworks’ platform has two main components that help both the managers of coworking spaces and their tenants.

On the manager’s dashboard, Coworks gives coworking companies access to billing, room-booking and event-management tools that help them organize most aspects of their business on one platform.

The platform also comes with an app for members of the coworking spaces that includes a room booking feature, a member directory and even a section where you can find the Wi-Fi password.

Oftentimes, coworking managers may use different apps, spreadsheets or paper records to manage all of these functions, but this sometimes leads to confusion and extra costs.

Brown said Coworks wants owners and managers of coworking spaces to be able to run their operations smoothly by spending less time stressing over outdated systems and focusing more on building their space’s community.

“Our true mission is to simplify the process of coworking so that it’s more accessible to all,” he said.

Even though the coworking market has been growing exponentially recently, Coworks’ operations manager, Kyle Linton, said there aren’t many coworking management programs available. Those that are available, such as Nexudus and Cobot, are clunky and outdated, he said.

“A lot of them are like repurposed corporate systems,” Linton said. “They’re not really meant for the flexibility of coworking.”

Brown said the fact that Coworks’ platform feels and looks good is important, but one of their most important distinguishing factors is the quality data that comes from the users.

Founder and CEO of Coworks, DeShawn Brown (center), and Coworks’ product manager, Sareena Helton (right), worked with their Google mentor, Madison Jacobs, at the Google Black Founders Exchange last October.

Brown said one of their customers, Raleigh’s Loading Dock, discovered through user analytics that one of their conference rooms was barely being used. Using this data as a justification, they were able to transform the conference room into two suites that they rented out.

Because there is no recognized leader in the coworking management software market, Linton said over the next year Coworks is focusing on “Growth with a capital G,” to try to become the market leader.

And in the six months since its launch, Coworks has grown tremendously. Without taking any funding from investors, and with only four employees fully dedicated to Coworks, they have acquired 10 coworking customers with over 1,400 users in total and have processed over $1M in their customers’ billing transactions since launch.

Locally, Coworks has been making a name for themselves among the startup community. In October, the company was selected from over 200 companies to participate in the Google for Entrepreneurs Black Founders Exchange at Durham’s American Underground, where Brown and the Coworks team were mentored by top Google engineers as well as local entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Brown said the most important thing he took away from the program was to aim big.

“Google put us in front of some of their smartest people and our area’s smartest people and helped us understand that we had smart ideas and just need guidance,” he said.

Although Coworks has customers in Nebraska and Canada, Brown and Linton, who both graduated from NC State in 2014, said finding local customers and helping the coworking spaces and startup community in the Triangle is particularly important to them.

“We’re really making a local impact,” Brown said. “For me that’s really awesome to see because I’ve been part of this community for over a decade now. It’s cool to see the tangible impact.”

About Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez 26 Articles
As a reporter at GrepBeat, Marco writes about startups and innovation and enjoys writing about entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds. He is a junior studying business journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Reach him at marco@grepbeat.com or on twitter @marcoquiroz10.