Upflex optimize flexibility, engagement & productivity of employees
Please introduce yourself and your startup Upflex to our readers!
Hey guys, I am Christophe Garnier, Co-Founder and CEO at Upflex. I am originally from France, but I have been in the US for close to 20 years and Upflex is my 4th startup.
Upflex is a technology solution helping businesses reduce their office costs while making their employees a lot more flexible and productive. Work today is becoming increasingly distributed and flexible, and companies need a way to embrace this shift to maximize efficiency and sustainability.
What we do is simple: we offer on-demand access to flexible workspaces for remote employees, business travellers, and anyone who simply needs a place to work or meet. We have a network of over 4,000 coworking spaces and other flexible office spaces so our users can access our mobile app to book desks while working individually, or meeting rooms to work in teams.
How did you get the idea of Upflex?
In 2013 I started Spark Labs, a NYC-based co-working environment that was initially designed to be a core incubator helping European tech entrepreneurs expand into the U.S. It grew to two locations and a network of 150 spaces across the world as my members needed access to coworking spaces around the world when they traveled.
I also learned how vital it is, especially today, for employees to have access to flexibility, and research shows that increasingly, young workers will leave a job if it doesn’t allow for a more flexible lifestyle. The teams of the future will be distributed and remote, and these core learnings really started what has since become Upflex.
Why did you decide to start with Upflex?
Because I found the right co-founder: my partner Ginger Dhaliwal.
What is the vision behind Upflex?
29.6 Billion hours per year are spent in daily commute, and that number is only for the US and is continually increasing. Traffic jams from commutes account for 26 million extra tons of greenhouse gases, and yet these days, the only thing many people need to work is their computer and a productive space.
The Upflex mission is to kill the commute, and through their employers give people the ability to find a place to work a couple blocks from home. We’re cutting down on emissions and we’re giving people their time back. Time that can be used for more productive purposes than commuting, whether that’s work, family, or fun.
We only use existing real estate assets, we aim to make a very inefficient industry a lot more efficient by using our technology. We can finally leverage all these empty offices and match them with people that need workspace in a specific location, as well as on demand.
Finally, we have recently launched a partnership with Trees.org, the industry leader in reforestation, having planted more than 115 million trees in the last 30 years. For every desk and meeting booked through our app we will be planting a tree, so every Upflex user will be able to contribute to the reforestation of our planet just by going to work.
Building a business that not only helps companies with their bottom line and contributes to the overall happiness of employees, while creating a truly sustainable solution really motivates me. I’m excited to be part of the world that Upflex is helping to create.
How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?
The concept was the easy part because we already had Spark Labs and that was working well. However, scaling from 150 spaces to 4000, while translating the coworking experience to a functioning product that accommodates the needs of our spaces partners, clients, and users took A LOT of our energy. There were many times we were banging our heads against the wall (and there still are), while we are trying to execute our vision.
Sometimes you have to step away from a project and re-approach it from different angle once your mind is clearer (which I would highly recommend when you are encountered with overwhelming emotions of wanting to give up). We have an amazing development team and Ginger really knew how to execute and design the experience we wanted our partners and clients to have. We have some pretty solid systems in place now, but challenges are never ending, we just know that we can get through them a little easier now.
Who is your target audience?
There are a lot of different kinds of companies who should be using Upflex:
– companies with hybrid and fully distributed teams
– medium and large companies who want to start offering flexibility in order to stay competitive to better acquire/retain talent
– companies who have a lot of business travellers or sales teams
– companies who are expanding and need temporary workspaces in the process
– companies who need more meeting room access than they currently have
– and anyone who simply needs access to a productive workspace
What is the unique selling point of your startup?
Upflex is an immediate enhancement to your company culture that doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your company’s work policies. We are offering a simple and modern approach to work by allowing companies and individuals to immediately tap-in to a variety of company cultures through the spaces we provide, all while giving their employees the flexibility they need.
Can you describe your typical workday ?
We are rapidly growing at the moment, so there is no such thing as a typical workday. I travel back and forth between New York City and San Francisco any given week for meetings, and now with our European expansion I have to travel a little more than normal. What I usually do if I am not required in our offices in New York, is book a space near my house using the Upflex app, so I can get a few things done without distractions before heading into meetings. My job is all encompassing, so I am continually changing my priorities from sales to fundraising, to partnerships to managing a team of very talented individuals who continually keep me on my tows throughout the day. Our team is a hybrid of remote and New York based employees, so I operate in a few different timezones.
Where do you see yourself and your startup Upflex in five years?
Having a five year plan in the startup world is a bit of an oxymoron, as things are changing from day to day based on the needs of our customers and the evolution of the industry. However, our vision is to provide an all-in-one platform for companies to deliver flexibility benefits to a globally distributed workforce. I think this can be done in the next 5 year and I believe it will be necessary for the future of work.
What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
iterate – test – repeat
More information you will find here
Thank you Christophe Garnier for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.