Croissant’s CEO on Three Years of Alternative Workspaces
January 22, 2019
One of the known advantages of remote work and an independent career is the ability to work anywhere you want. But, there’s days when this is more of a hassle than a blessing. Done trying to score workspace at a crowded café? Dedicated desk at a coworking space not for you? You’re in luck! There’s some great companies out there making sure that you’ve got flexible, drop-in workspace whenever you need it.
Entrepreneurs on the go, meet Croissant , a service that connects thousands of members to over 400 alternative workspaces, all through one subscription. About 30% of Croissant’s members are freelancers or self-employed, like you. Among them are Shefali Raina, a leadership and business coach with 20 years of Wall Street experience, and Ingmar Larsen, an art director and inventor based in Amsterdam.
We’re big fans of any company that’s elevating the experience of being self-employed, so we were excited to interview Croissant’s co-founder and CEO, Dave Idell. He shared insights about the role of tech in remote work, Croissant’s role in the coworking ecosystem, and how these ladder up to their mission.
Alternative workspaces are powered by tech
Through Croissant’s connections with members and workspaces, Idell’s watched many cities around the world evolve into tech and coworking hubs. “Everywhere from Warsaw and Las Palmas to Lincoln, Nebraska… I’ve talked with tons of people who all tell as similar story about the growth of coworking spaces in the city and the buzz that’s happening. I think on average people don’t realize the global nature of this movement,” says Idell.
Many Croissant members hail from the tech sector: they’re developers, UX writers, and project managers. They’re the natural early adopters. But these days, nearly anyone can choose remote work as long as they have the gear, like a laptop and essential software tools. Besides the usual suspects, Croissants’ members include many lawyers, administrators, and tutors who clock in virtually.
Turning unused spaces into ‘laptop-friendly’ workspaces
“The biggest trend that we’re seeing nowadays is the shift from people having dedicated desk setups to people primarily doing their work on a laptop,” says Idell. “We’re capturing that shift by making it really easy to get access to laptop-friendly workspaces, and building a community around that. That’s really all we focus on. I think that if we get really good at that, then things will be good for everyone involved,” he continued.
The term ‘laptop-friendly’ broadens the category of coworking spaces somewhat. To Idell, a restaurant or a coffeeshop can be a laptop-friendly space too. “Our partnership with them tells them how to act, how to make this place a workspace. ‘Laptop-friendly’ is the mentality of the partnership.”
The biggest trend that we’re seeing nowadays is the shift from people having dedicated desk setups to people primarily doing their work on a laptop… We’re capturing that shift by making it really easy to get access to laptop-friendly workspaces, and building a community around that.
Idell notes that there are about 30,000 coworking spaces around the world. Several are independent small businesses that don’t have the visibility of a big chain like WeWork. A partnership with Croissant drives more traffic to these locations, and turns unused space into drop-in alternative workspaces.
The mission that guides them as they scale
In the past twelve months, Croissant has quadrupled the number of workspaces that they have. They’ve also quadrupled the number of members that they have. Their mission today is to “make every day inspiring for digital workers around the world.” It’s a statement that recognizes how thrilling it can be to take your job with you, while recognizing the members for whom this is a daily routine.
“There is always a special place in our hearts for the members who play on this consistency by staying late and working through the night at our 24/7 workspaces, even during holidays. Also those members who try every Croissant location in their city, a.k.a. the marathoners. It’s truly an honor to see Croissant being used to its fullest,” says Idell.
The highest thing on their priority list is to make their service as frictionless as possible, for every type of user that uses Croissant. That means not just paid members, but also members’ guests and collaborators. Based on member feedback, they recently overhauled the ‘Getting There’ instructions on many of their listings. “This makes it easier for people to find and access these spaces, which were previously not getting as much traffic as they should have been.”
Idell says the next order of business is to build a community that unites this loose network of members and workspaces. They’re now working on a newsletter that encourages deeper connections between members, encourages attendance at workspace events, and serves as the global heartbeat of everything Croissant.