TwoSpace, having recently expanded to Melbourne, is practicing a unique approach to co-working by making use of existing spaces not already being used in order to provide affordable and unique co-working spaces.
By turning restaurants closed during the day into a unique network of alternative work spaces, TwoSpace is helping freelancers and small business professionals save money while allowing them to connect with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs and creatives.
Their first Melbourne space has just opened up at local favourite Little Oscar in Brunswick East, and so we decided to catch up with Bill Rutten and Tashi Dorjee of TwoSpace to find out a little more about the project.
Inner Circle: There are plenty of co-working spaces out there, what makes TwoSpace unique?
Bill Rutten: You are right, co-working is a concept flourishing like never before. However, there are several aspects that set us apart from the rest. To begin with, TwoSpace is a sharing economy model. We partner with existing businesses like restaurants closed during the day and turn them into a network of affordable and unique co-working spaces. A network? Yes, we have already 4 spots in Sydney and 2 in Melbourne (Little Oscar and our partner York Butter Factory) and this is just the very beginning. A member can work from any of our spaces, soon to be found all over the world. Affordable? Our model allows us to offer a super affordable price that opens up the possibility for co-working to a whole new market. Unique? Every place is different and has its own vibe. From rooftops to beach fronts to smaller cozy spots in the suburbs… They are all unique.
Inner Circle: When did the project start?
Tashi Dorjee: October 10th was the launch of our first location!
IC: And what was the inspiration behind the project?
TD: One of the keys to great ideas and innovation is access to a collaborative space and like-minded people. The community is key to bounce off ideas and work together. At the same time, there are plenty of beautiful restaurants that we thought could be really cool creative spaces. So by partnering with restaurants when they are closed during the day and turning them into a network of co-working spaces, we not only bring foot traffic to these venues but also create a co-working community.
IC: Why did you decide to make the move to Melbourne, and why did you choose Melbourne’s inner north as the place to get things kicking off down here?
BR: Melbourne is without a doubt the logical step after having started in Sydney. There is a great entrepreneurial scene in Melbourne and a very open-minded community in general, the perfect place to continue our journey with TwoSpace. Melbourne’s inner north particularly is a coincidence, to be honest. We looked at several places around town and found Little Oscar the most suited to kick off with. We are really stoked that we are now part of the northern subs though, lots of creative people with great attitude live here and we know this is a great place to be.
IC: There’s a great and unique sense of community in Melbourne’s inner north, do you envisage TwoSpace becoming a key part of the business community within the inner north?
BR: That’s very true, I’ve lived for quite a while in Brunswick now and love the sense of community around here. TwoSpace definitely wants to connect more with the business community over here. The most important thing in a successful co-working environment is the culture. We put a lot of effort in ensuring a great culture in each location and connecting to the local community is a big part of that.
IC: Who are your typical co-workers? Young start-ups? Established professionals?
BR: We foster diversity and in fact, we get people from all sorts of backgrounds co-work with us. From corporates seeking to escape their offices or looking for a geographically convenient location, to freelancers and startup teams. As we are affordable for many early-stage startups, we also have many founders and teams from this background joining our community.
IC: What advice would you give to young start-ups trying to make their mark in their respective industries?
BR: I believe that connecting to other people in the startup community and people from their specific industry is one of the most important aspects of starting a business. You need inspiration from peer founders and startup teams to stay motivated in the darkest days of any project. The beautiful thing about the startup world is that most people are willing to help each other out. At the same time, getting to know people from your industry is crucial for many reasons. You can learn from them and save time by not committing mistakes, you can find partnerships, potential clients, co-founders… This was exactly what drove me to get me where I am now. It’s all about connecting to the community.
IC: What kind of co-working spaces do you typically secure, and why are these businesses so keen to jump on board with TwoSpace?
BR: We have a wide variety of spaces. We are flexible when it comes to the environments, as long as theyIC: inspire the co-workers. From rooftops to beach fronts or cozy restaurants in the suburbs, we like to offer variety. Businesses love it as for them it’s an additional revenue stream and a great tool for marketing. At the same time, they get to know many interesting members and love hanging out more in their own space during the day.
IC: What is the coolest co-working space you have on the books?
BR: Tough question. What is cool? I’m a surfer so I would go for the Manly beachfront probably! But Little Oscar in Melbourne has a unique and warm vibe and really get’s people together. It really depends on the occasion.
IC: That you know of, has anything inspirational or special ever happened or come about within your co-working spaces? Any real success stories amongst your customers?
TD: Heaps. We have freelancers connecting with early stage startups that need work. We have journalists and bloggers who use our spaces that are now speaking about doing stories together. We have startups partnering with other startups that are working in alike industries. We have workshops being hosted by our members to help share their skills with the community and others that are welcome to meet at our (Two)Spaces. We have forward thinking corporates using the spaces to get access to the community of early stage startups, resulting in mentoring or problem-solving sessions etc.
You can find out more about TwoSpace by visiting their website at www.twospace.com.au
Bill has a background in economics with Masters in innovation and sustainability. He soon discovered that his true passion lies with entrepreneurship; this is the way to change the game. It wasn’t until he had traveled the world and landed in Australia that he became hungry and foolish enough to start a project of his own. Ecoshift was born and bamboo bicycles started to ride around town. Bill has since worked as an innovation consultant, startup coach and started a project called Food Hero Melbourne that aims at reducing food waste in the hospitality industry. Currently, he is managing and growing TwoSpace in Melbourne while fostering that awesome culture in the co-working community.
Tashi’s startup journey began with a love for the environment. Carbon Conservation was the first company to use carbon finance to conserve tropical rainforests. Tashi has also worked partnering with the Googlers to help launch Google Glass in SEA, helping combine bluetooth technology and augmented reality to the tourism sector. Today Tashi is a Co-founder of TwoSpace, partnering with restaurants that are closed during the day and transforming them into a network of co-working spaces.