The whys and wherefores of co-working spaces: Brodie McCulloch

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// Thinking of starting your own – or working in a – co-working space? We seek advice from Spacecubed founder Brodie McCulloch…

In 2004, Brodie McCulloch completed a marketing and e-business degree at Murdoch University. After a period in the army as a gunner, he went travelling and worked overseas as a marketing manager for a cruise line, returning to Perth in 2010.

Combining his interests in business with social impact and innovation, he set up Perth’s first modern co-working space in 2012, Spacecubed.

The space at 45 St George’s Terrace grew, becoming the centre for Perth’s startup scene, hosting the first Startup Weekend, GovHack, Perth Morning Startup and hundreds of other early stage community events. In 2019, a newly refurbished and expanded space changed its name to ‘Riff’, to contrast itself with ‘FLUX’ (also run by Spacecubed) which had opened in 2016.

Newly expanded Riff co-working space in 2019

It’s become a busy market, with the latest entry – WeWork – taking several floors of Central Park in downtown Perth CBD.

Startup News spoke to Brodie about the evolution of co-working spaces, what it takes to run one, and what to look out for when choosing between them…

Passion for an ecosystem

“I am passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship – specifically social enterprise and innovation – but have taken a much broader view as all innovation and entrepreneurship should have positive social impacts,” he told Startup News.

Brodie McCulloch, Spacecubed founder

Since then, he has been focused on “building an ecosystem of support through a range of coworking spaces including Riff, FLUX, CORE and Solder along with programs like Plus Eight Accelerator, SheCodes, Startup Weekend, and many more.”

Spacecubed’s Brodie McCulloch

Why set up Spacecubed?

“After working overseas and seeing what was happening to support innovation around the world I saw a real gap in Perth for supporting early-stage companies and ideas.

“This was at the same time I was looking at setting up my own venture (not Spacecubed) and then started to explore what support was actually available. 

“After looking at the market for 12 months it was clear there was a gap for how startups and entrepreneurs could be supported through colocation of not just their teams but also workshops, training and mentoring. 

“Spacecubed’s first space was then made possible through a mix of support from Stockland who owned the building, Lotterywest, the City of Perth, our early members and myself investing in the initial development and design.” 

The FLUX space, opened in 2016, powered by spacecubed.

What’s so good about co-working?

“Co-working spaces provide an environment where you can work, connect and learn. I think these three things are key to anyone being successful in the new world of work we find ourselves in.

“The work environment needs to be good but it is really now a focus on how individuals utilise the co-location with a range of companies, connections with customers or collaborators and access to new ideas that drive real value. 

“Spacecubed provides open house events where you can work for free across all of its spaces (Riff, FLUX, CORE etc) so the barrier to trying out the space and getting involved is very low. There are also many free events where you can learn new things and meet new people.”

How do you make co-working spaces work?

“We have had hundreds of conversations with people and organisations wanting to start their own spaces.

“My main advice – which I have seen go wrong a number of times – is making sure you do your numbers and get them stress-tested with real customers. This is the same for all businesses and ideas, by the way.

“Co-working spaces are tough businesses because not only do you have to provide a clean and productive work environment and everything that comes with that but also there is the expectation of community, business connections and learning opportunities so you are essentially providing three different services for the price of a desk.

“Spacecubed has developed its own platform to support other partner spaces and our property partnerships by taking what we have learnt in the last eight years and building [this] into a platform that delivers value to both the spaces and members. Keep an eye on what we are doing at www.spacecubed.com.”

How can people make the most of a space?

Be open. This is the main advice, if you just go into the space and do your work with your headphones on – which is fine! – then you may not get the most of the space.

“So being open to new ideas, people and opportunities is key to getting the most out of the space and the community.”

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MAIN PHOTO: Riff co-working space, powered by Spacecubed, at 45 St George’s Terrace, Perth. Photos supplied.

Spacecubed is a sponsor of Startup News.