Over half of all startups are no longer in operation after four years. A logical person would say that they simply need more money, but the way you generate that resource is critical in determining whether your business has a long-term future.
I spoke to Phil Tadros, the person behind coworking project Space by Doejo, to find out more about why Space has become successful and what lessons other startups can take away.
AJ: Thank you for joining me today. You have founded multiple startups, and Space is one of your most recent projects. Could you tell my readers a little more about it?
Tadros: Space is a coworking project based around the idea of assisted serendipity. We believe that people should get more than just a workspace when they opt for coworking. We want organizations that rent space from us to find success because of the resources and opportunities we help create.
AJ: Speaking of resources and opportunities, what makes Space stand out from other coworking spaces, both in Chicago and nationally?
Tadros: Many companies doing what we do are using coworking as a real estate plan. They are real estate companies selling space to startup people, we are startup people building a community of individuals and organizations. They don't care about you as long as you can pay the rent. What we strive to do is provide the tools and the environment for businesses to succeed. We care because when our customers grow, we grow.
AJ: And it all goes back to customer care?
Tadros: Absolutely. The feedback we gained from many of the startups that have used Space by Doejo is that they feel crammed in when they've used coworking spaces in the past.
I understand that giving people more space means potentially reducing my bottom line, but I think that's necessary for a business that wants to succeed. Space may be reducing the number of tenants, but that additional space is being used for meeting rooms, flexible workspaces, and lounge areas.
We don't see these additional services as 'premium', we see it as the standard. And I think that's the road many startups have to go down. First and foremost, they have to think about the long-term care of their customers.
AJ: I know it may sound like an obvious question, but what's the main benefit that you would say prioritizing customers does for startups in the long-term?
Tadros: It's all about branding. The biggest asset any startup can have is its brand. If people know you as someone who has been helping out people for a long time, they are going to trust you. Your reputation is everything.
Space has credibility because it's invested in helping people out for the long time. That may mean more of an initial investment, more overhead, and a longer road to profits.
AJ: If startups prioritize customers over their bottom line, how are they going to get through the initial challenges of sustaining and building a regular startup income?
Tadros: I run Doejo, which is a startup that prioritizes getting other startups up and running. I call it the startups for startups. We run the same strategy for every startup. That is to go in hard and go in fast, before scaling up.
My testing ground is Chicago. I don't attempt to launch a national product, I attempt to launch a product just for Chicago. If it works there, I know I can scale up. If it doesn't work, I can tweak and edit as I go based on the feedback we're getting. Startups often want to conquer the world right away, and while it's good to have ambition it's important to start small and focused..
My advice to startups is that they should start small, deliver the best possible service, and treat your customers like royalty. They are your best possible marketing tool.
AJ: Attracting customers in the first place is often the most difficult part of being a startup. How do you do that so you can start treating them right?
Tadros: To get the wheels moving you have to offer something unique. That's where your initial market research comes in. You identify the major pain points customers have and address them. You have to find out what your company can do better than everyone else and focus on delivering.
AJ: Thank you for joining me today.