Miguel Mckelvey “Always be Interested”
Headquartered in New York, WeWork is an innovative rental company, which provides coworking office spaces for entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups and small businesses. Founded in 2010, the company has grown rapidly to a business worth $10 billion in just five years. WeWork was also named among the “most innovative companies of 2015” by Fast Company magazine. WeWork started with just one office in New York SoHo district, but WeWork now has 29 locations around the world. WeWork also plans to expand to Korea in 2016. WeWork’s core strengths include modern and stylish workspaces and conference rooms, various miscellaneous services to support startups that use WeWork’s communal areas, and most importantly strong communal bond and collaboration formed among the businesses in the co-working spaces.
Miguel Mckelvey, co-founder as well as Chief Creative Officer (CCO) of WeWork, plays a central role in developing WeWork’s corporate strategy and image. Mckelvey has an interesting background. He spent his childhood in a small collective community with five families in Oregon. Having a communal life in childhood left him with a deep impression on value of communal life and sharing. His first business in 1999 demonstrates his deep faith in communal life. During the height of dot-com boom in 1999, McKelvey launched “English, baby!,” a website that connected American pen pals with Japanese pen pals. Established even before the emergence of large scale social network platforms such as Facebook, his first website was one of the earliest social networking services.
Since then, Mckelvey started studying Architecture, a subject that he was always passionate about. He leveraged his architectural practices when designing workspaces, which well demonstrated the theme of collaboration and sharing. When people think about a typical office space, they usually visualize an isolated, partitioned, and unfriendly space, but WeWork’s coworking spaces are quite different. There are shared resting areas, including lounges and cafes side to side, highlighting the sense of openness and comfort. In the meantime, WeWork’s coworking spaces feature glass wall to maintain privacy without sacrificing transparency and natural light, which adds to a distinct aesthetic and vibe that inspire workers and customers. Such an open environment naturally stimulates a comfortable and collegial atmosphere among startups and teams within the working space. Unlike traditional work environments, WeWork provides a friendly environment where people can share information and cooperate with each other like neighbors, which is WeWork’s most unique key success factor.
Operators of WeWork continuously seek to form tight bonds among the coworking space members by actively providing group activities, networking events, and self-operated social networking services. Sometimes WeWork’s community manager directly steps in and arranges a wide array of activities such as career development workshops and office hours with industry insiders for community members of WeWork’s spaces.
In addition to information sharing and networking effects, this kind of communal activities and connections leads to actual business deals and forge a strong cooperative relationship. These types of reciprocal benefits effectively lock in users to stay at WeWork’s coworking space despite its relatively high rent. WeWork is something more than a mere working space. It also serves as a social networking space among entrepreneurs, professionals and freelancers who want to build lasting relationships and also generate new business opportunities.
Thanks to Yong Hyun for the original article