Co-working space The Cluster looks for point of difference in a crowded market
Monday, November 14, 2011/
The founders of The Cluster, a new co-working space for start-ups, insist their facility will offer a point of difference despite an increasingly cluttered market for entrepreneurs to choose from.
Over the past year, Australia’s start-up scene has seen a raft of new co-working spaces pop up, including Fishburners, The Hub, Inspire9 and, most recently, the York Butter Factory.
Adding to that list is The Cluster, located in Melbourne’s Market Street, which is spread over two floors and comes complete with fibre-grade internet, front-of-house staff and IT support.
The Cluster was founded by Kirsten Koci and Chris Mosely, who were keen to tap into the trend of co-working spaces for entrepreneurs; a trend that continues to rise in popularity.
According to the founders, The Cluster sets itself apart from other co-working spaces by providing “just about everything” that start-ups need, right down to free coffee and chocolate.
“While other shared work spaces offer only a workspace, The Cluster provides everything in the package. This includes… free meeting or boardrooms [and] use of business address,” she says.
“[It also includes] an affordable phone line with professional receptionists answering the phone in your company name, fax and fibre internet, as well as free coffee, chocolate and social opportunities.”
According to Koci, The Cluster offers three main packages: serviced offices, casual offices and virtual offices.
The serviced office package includes a permanent desk or private offices, while the casual office package offers a desk on a more casual basis for start-ups with more flexible office requirements.
The virtual office package offers a CBD business address, mail storing, forwarding and/or mail-to-email, a personalised business phone number, and a receptionist to answer calls.
When it began, The Cluster only spanned one floor. However, a high take-up rate prompted the founders to lease a second floor dedicated solely to entrepreneurs needing private spaces.
The founders stress that discretion is also part of the deal at The Cluster, so clients who call or visit the office are unaware the businesses operate as part of a shared working space.
Mosely says the benefits of co-working are many and varied.
“Many of our business owners began working from home but found it limiting because of the isolation and lack of networking and social opportunities,” he says.
In addition to free drinks once a month, The Cluster holds regular networking events including speed-greeting lunches and presentation nights, where the entrepreneurs can discuss ideas.
“We offer start-up business owners and creatives the enjoyable aspects of working for a large organisation without having to deal with petty company politics and having a boss breathing down your neck,” Mosely says.
Koci says many of the start-ups that use the facilities “get to bursting point” due to rapid expansion, forcing them to find larger and more private spaces.
However, she says many former clients continue to use The Cluster’s virtual services.