Miro Miroslavov owner and founder of OfficeRnD spoke to the European Coworking Assembly about how coworking spaces create an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible (IDEA) environment.
This discussion ties in with the topic Miro will be speaking about as part of the global IDEA Project panel on 1 December at 14:15 CET as part of the Coworking Europe Conference. The IDEA Project event will be online and streamed with free access for anyone who attends. There will be ten industry experts that will give advice to coworking spaces on how to transform diversity and inclusion into a driver of growth for your community, membership, and revenue.
How OfficeRnD started
It all started at the end of 2014, in Sofia, Bulgaria. The first idea was to build what they were calling ‘agile workplace management software for any company out there that wants to manage their workspace in a newer and nicer way.
But in early 2015, they were invited by an accelerator space in London to join their program. And this happened to land Office RnD in a trendy coworking space that almost became their second home. They thought: “This is brilliant, this is the future of work”.
They got to experience how coworking spaces operated and later learned the problems that they face. Because of this, they wanted to be part of the coworking niche and since then they have been building products for coworking spaces.
One resource that Miro relied on when creating his business was a book called: The Mom Test, written by Rob Fitzpatrick. When they were trying to find their first customers, they started to contact all the coworking spaces in London. In these conversations, they weren’t trying to sell them a product, but rather to listen to the problems that the coworking spaces were experiencing.
The book completely changed Miro’s point of view on how to build products. So, instead of going in pitching to customers how great their product was, they instead went to meet them and ask them open questions about their problems.
They soon came to the realisation that the product that they had at that stage, did not even solve the first five most prominent problems for coworking spaces. As a result, they managed to learn all of the problems of the industry. They then went back and worked on solving those problems. They adapted their software, and today they are a company of over 120 employees, with four different locations.
Why IDEA is important
Because Miro is so close to coworking spaces, and because he works closely with them to solve their problems. He also knows how important IDEA within coworking spaces is.
Miro is Bulgarian, meaning that he knows all about stereotypes and people having biases about him before meeting him. “The bad guy in the movie is always either a Bulgarian or Russian,” he says.
He agrees that there is a lot of stigmas that needs to be dealt with, globally and within coworking spaces. He points out, from his own experience, how hard it is to raise funds while these stigmas exist. He has found for example that people in environments that are dense in venture capital, like London, or San Francisco, or Germany, cannot relate to the problems that he faces.
Miro says: “This means to obtain funding, you have to really stand out and even then it’s extremely difficult. How they overcome this in Bulgaria is by having a certain number of venture capital funds that are doing a specific job to breach this gap and look for these gems in the region. They also help these startups to gain the knowledge needed to obtain funding.”
Within coworking spaces it is important to ensure that all coworkers have access to the same opportunities IDEA should be implemented. It creates a safe space where coworkers can create connections and collaborate with each other.
To find out how to transform diversity and inclusion into a driver of growth for your community, membership, and revenue; attend the Coworking Europe Conference session on 1 December at 14:15 CET. Get leading advice from industry experts!
Our industry experts are:
Miro Miroslavov from OfficeRnD
Cecilia Tham of Makers of Barcelona
Hector Kolonas from Syncaroo
Bertie van Wyk from MillerKnoll
Alex Ahom from the European Coworking Assembly
Carmen Lecuane from Nexudus
Shazia Mustafa from Third Door
Mike LaRosa from Upflex
Pauline Roussel from Coworkies
Natalie du Toit a Paralympic Gold Medalist
Our Coworking IDEA Project moderators are:
Jeannine van der Linden from The European Coworking Assembly
Ashley Proctor from Creative Blueprint