Interview with Viktor Kyosev,
General Manager at Greenhouse Indonesia
For only one year following its opening, Greenhouse managed to win Rice Bowl Awards’ recognition for ‘Best Coworking Space in Indonesia for 2018’’.
Not only is Greenhouse an excellent example of a successful coworking space, but is a client of ours, and we’re absolutely proud of that!
We sat down to interview Viktor Kyosev, General Manager at Greenhouse Indonesia, on the good practices adopted by the space in terms of business, operations, hospitality. Moreover, Greenhouse is currently growing with new locations, so we had the chance to chat about the expansion process and the main challenges that come along with it.
Viktor’s role in the space is to look after Indonesia as a market and to make sure the company is profitable and has enough and proper revenue streams. His role requires a deep understanding of the industry, and the operational processes in the company. Moreover, he’s also responsible for building and maintaining the team at Greenhouse.
A coworking explosion in Southeast Asia
When Greenhouse started in 2018, there weren’t many flexible spaces in Jakarta and in just a period of one year the city observed an explosion of coworking spaces, Viktor says.
Several local brands managed to get fundraising and WeWork also entered the market. Both supply and demand are growing rapidly.
However, the market in Jakarta is very price-sensitive especially in comparison to Singapore, or European or American markets, which makes it challenging to operate. In this region, the price is a leading factor when choosing a coworking space.
“It was not easy to get where we are. But the more time we spent operating, the more we understood how to price ourselves, what kind of other revenue streams we could have, and eventually, it worked out pretty well for us.
Over time, of course, as we develop more partnerships, do more events, understand our community and attract better organizations, our value proposition increases as well.”
With care for the community and the environment
The two main pillars of Greenhouse’s philosophy are the market entry element and the sustainability focus.
The idea of Greenhouse emerged naturally. Each of the leadership team – Viktor and the three co-founders Vicknesh Pillay, Drew Calin, and Manish Nathani – has been running a startup or a business in emerging markets around the world and they all knew how hard it is to operate in such business environment.
It’s even more challenging in Southeast Asia, where the legislation is constantly changing, which leads to common disinformation on the topic. Many starting companies, especially foreign ones, struggle with making sure they meet the legislative requirements and it might take them thousands of dollars and up to 12 months to ensure it, Viktor shares.
“At the same time, there’s so much potential in this market. Indonesia is the region with the highest number of unicorn startups, each of which with a valuation of more than a billion dollars. Yet, it’s very difficult to start a business here.”
Drew, Vicknesh, and Manish wanted to solve this problem by helping young companies establish and develop their business. That’s how Greenhouse was born.
“We wanted to build a place that makes it easy for foreign companies to enter the market and operate.”
The space’s focus is mainly on foreign companies and professionals. The coworking company helps its members develop their business by a lot of entry market services, building connections within the community and between members and investors, by hosting relevant professional events.
In addition, Greenhouse is a very purpose-driven organization, actively engaged with sustainability and providing a healthy and productive working environment for its members.
“We do a lot of research on how to increase the productivity of our members”, Viktor says.
The whole space is designed to minimize electricity consumption and bring in abundant natural light. Not only is the external set of the space from glass but also the offices inside.
Greenhouse has more than 100 plants in-house and each plant has been chosen for its specific benefits – some help you fight stress, others anxiety, and others release a lot of oxygen in the air.
“The food in our pantries is vegetarian, locally sourced and healthy. In that way, we also support local businesses and educate our community to have a more healthy lifestyle.
Another thing we do is that we segregate and recycle about 100% of our waste, which is not an easy thing to do in Jakarta.”
The company also works in close partnership with numerous global sustainability non-profit organizations, supports social entrepreneurs and green startups, and hosts plenty of events on the topic.
Supporting the coworking community
To support its community the team at Greenhouse runs a lot of initiatives.
“We have a program called ‘Greenhouse member benefits’. Each of our partners is giving something for free to our members.
For example, we have an Accounting partner who gives an entire month of free services. We also have companies like Amazon Web Services and IBM participating in the program.
The total value of the program is $70,000 SGD, which we invest in products and services that you receive access to at the moment you become a member of Greenhouse.”
The space also runs a lot of events, which most venture capital companies, as well as accelerators and incubators, attend.
Such events give members the opportunity to get in touch with potential investors, advisors, and any other professionals that might help them scale their business.
Often, Viktor and his team, make personal introductions between companies – a tested and verified approach that increases the chances of starting companies to get funded.
Running a business with an attitude for expansion
As of today, Greenhouse has one location in Jakarta, and is currently working on opening a second one in the city, one in the Philippines, and is considering to open in Singapore and Vietnam in the near future.
When asked about the biggest challenge of the expansion, Viktor shares it’s not a single one.
“We set the standards high with our first location so we have to keep that.”
In terms of location, the team at Greenhouse is looking for landlords who understand the vision of the space and want to support the team on their mission.
Working with like-minded people is essential, especially when you are very purpose-driven and want to be consistent in the look and feel of your locations, Viktor shares.
In terms of processes, the space has nailed it how to make it smooth to expand. From day one they all knew that they were going to have more than one location in multiple countries, and they designed and implemented all processes with that in mind.
“Everything we do, we build it so it’s scalable, transparent, and easy to replicate. Every software that we choose, every process we decide on, any position we decide to hire for, everything is being done so that it makes sense across locations.”
Hiring for a new coworking location
The most important role to hire first for a new coworking space is Sales, according to Viktor.
“We started selling Greenhouse long before Greenhouse was launched. So at the moment, we launched we had Greenhouse at 40% occupancy because we were selling when there was just a construction site, there was no electricity, and it was all under construction…
And I think that’s how we’ve built a sustainable business. Because if we don’t run a sustainable business, we cannot run all the positive things that we do want to run.”
The second important role is the Community Manager, which is difficult to find a good fit for.
“Community people are hard to find because the role requires a diverse skill set – people who are very energetic, positive and friendly, and in the meantime very sharp and intelligent. Also, they should be able to do sales if the sales team is not there, and keep track of what’s going on in the space and solve problems.”
The role of hospitality in coworking
Viktor has spent half of his grown-up life studying and working within the hospitality business and half within startups.
His say on hospitality is that it’s absolutely important, but yet it’s very different from the hotel industry.
“A lot of people don’t understand but the difference between coworking and a hotel is that in a hotel you meet someone for one week, two weeks, and he’s gone. It’s a very shallow relationship that you have. It’s very easy to be positive most of the time. People just come and they have the mindset of “I’m on holiday”, they enjoy the time and they leave.
Versus, in a coworking space people stay for longer, hopefully for at least one year.
You really get to know these people, you really get to create a relationship.
Especially here in Asia, relationships are incredibly important. People would often choose to do business with someone they know versus something that’s a better product.”
Making internal training for the team in terms of how to effectively communicate with customers, how to solve their problems, how to prioritize these problems, is just one of Greenhouse’s initiatives fostering the top-notch customer experience.
Solving problems extremely fast and efficiently is truly essential for the team at Greenhouse.
“We’re really obsessed with that. We measure every single thing from the moment that the complaint comes to the moment it’s passed to the facility team. We try to optimize that time until it becomes as efficient as humanly possible.
Problems are always gonna be there. But it’s important how you approach the clients, how you actually solve the problem, and what you do in the meantime to make them happy.”
Another good practice is the member first policy – one of Greenhouse’s core values. A given example is that when a member of the space and an external client want to host an event at the same time, the member always comes first.
Viktor shares that this applies even in cases when external clients are companies like Google, Apple or LinkedIn, that often host events at Greenhouse.
For Greenhouse, having communication with your community is absolutely essential. The team often sits outside in the open area so everyone can approach them. It might be distracting, but it’s what allows them to create meaningful connections and be helpful and of value to their coworking community.
Small gestures would add on top of all that.
“We have a calendar where we keep track on every member’s birthday and we make surprises for them on their special day. When a new member enters the space, they receive a handwritten welcoming note by our community. For the 14th of February, we’re giving chocolate and flowers to the ladies.
We consistently try to delight our members and make them happy.”
Scaling successfully and with purpose
Scaling a coworking business requires a lot of efforts. It’s a mixture of much industry, business, and operational knowledge, along with being committed to your values and your customers.
But one thing is certain – having the right attitude and being truly dedicated to what you do, is a prerequisite for success!
We see it proved by Greenhouse, a great example of a coworking space that adds true value to its coworking community on top of its excellent service.
Want to learn more about scaling your coworking space?
Check The Ultimate Guide to Successfully Expanding Your Coworking Space, where we’ve gathered in one place what we’ve learned from working with 500+ flexible workspace operators and from focused interviews with industry experts, who have gone through growth first-hand.