- Late December, 2017, coworking operator Serendipity Labs announced it had awarded franchises for four new markets in the US
- Serendipity Labs is planning on furthering its international presence and has its sights on Canada, UK, Latin America and India
- The coworking operator partnered with JLL for brokerage services, stating that coworking is a new category of the commercial real estate industry
Serendipity Labs has been known for its hospitality-focused approach to serviced workspaces and for powering its growth through the franchise model. Twenty-seventeen proved to be a successful year for the coworking brand, opening various new locations both in established and new markets.
Following the company’s announcement that it awarded franchises for 22 locations across 4 new US markets, Allwork.Space spoke with Paula Gomprecht, VP of Marketing, to learn more about their plans for 2018, international expansion, and their brokerage partnership with JLL.
Allwork.Space: How many new locations did Serendipity Labs open in 2017, and where?
Paula Gomprecht: We currently have 125 locations under development across the US. In 2017, we opened Bethesda, Maryland; Dallas, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio, with Nashville and New York City under construction. We also announced signed leases for new locations in Denver, Alpharetta, Atlanta, Houston, and Greenville, SC.
Allwork.Space: Will any of the upcoming 22 locations in Phoenix, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh be company-owned?
In each market we are opening at least one company-owned location in the central business districts, while our franchisees open in the suburbs. This is part of our strategy of creating a hub and spoke network in each market.
Allwork.Space: Talk us through your reasons for opening workspaces in suburban areas.
Of our entire development schedule of over 125 locations, a majority are suburban or secondary market locations. This allows us to provide broad location coverage, so we can serve as a strategic enterprise solution for our corporate customers. Most of them already have facilities in major urban centers. By adding suburban and secondary market locations, we allow companies to shed small conventional office leases and support an increasingly mobile workforce.
Allwork.Space: Why is Serendipity Labs interested in tapping into both urban and suburban areas?
By operating with both urban and suburban locations we are able to create a more valuable network that can better address enterprise customer needs.
Allwork.Space: When can we expect the new locations to open? Will all 22 be open by the end of 2018?
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For each area franchise we award a geographic development area and require opening one to two locations per year over three to five years in that market. With area franchise development grants totaling over 125 locations, this will mean about 25 new location openings in 2018.
Allwork.Space: Serendipity Labs recently partnered with JLL for brokerage services. Why did you make this decision and how do you expect it will benefit the company?
Coworking has become a competitive alternative to conventional office space requirements under 10,000 sq ft, and should be treated as a new category of the commercial real estate industry. We have chosen JLL to represent Serendipity Labs to market our locations to enterprise customers who want flexibility of turnkey managed facilities, with terms under 3 years for up to 100 people.
We launched the pilot in Dallas, and recently expanded it to DC and New York. We are rolling this program out across the country. Corporate occupiers and other brokers trust JLL and we like the power and reach of JLL marketing.
Allwork.Space: Will the partnership benefit all franchisee locations or only company-owned?
The JLL partnership is setup by location, franchise locations are eligible to participate as well.
Allwork.Space: Other than the UrWork partnership, what other plans for international expansion does Serendipity Labs have?
We have built a brand and service delivery platform, and a centralized marketing and sales capability that can serve global location growth. While we are currently engaged in active franchise discussions with potential licensees in Latin America and India, we expect to operate our own locations in Canada, UK and Europe through joint ventures.
Allwork.Space: What else can we expect from Serendipity Labs in 2018?
Expect more franchise partners from the hospitality industry. To us hospitality is not a phrase we picked up at a conference; it is fundamental to delivering great experiences and offering more than just great space. Look for company owned and franchise development throughout the west and northwest US in early 2018.
Allwork.Space: Anything else we should know?
Our hub and spoke development plan will be more evident in 2018. For example, the New York Metro market represents the hub and spoke network approach that we have begun deploying around the country. Our new Manhattan location is surrounded by Serendipity Labs in the northern suburbs of Westchester County, New York, Fairfield Connecticut and Bergen County, New Jersey. This cluster of suburban and urban locations allows large companies with employees who live in the suburbs to support their workforce with flexible work programs, and access offices and meeting space on demand without compromising corporate workplace standards.