Trying Shapr Matchmaking for Businesses

I recently downloaded the App shapr (as in shape your life). Shapr is a business born and raised in the NYC startup ecosystem with offices in NYC and Paris. For those not familiar, shapr is an online match making app for people interested in business. The idea is to find a cofounder, friend, investor, employee or maybe more.

In their own words:

Networking should be a joyful experience, because It's about meeting new people. It's not just a trick to generate more sales or find some humdrum job – we see it as a lifestyle.

Think of it as Tinder meets Angel.co or Linkedin. The concept behind the idea is simple and compelling. Enter your interests, put who you are looking to meet and each day you get matched with roughly 16 people who may be a potential match. According to the Wall Street Journal Shapr currently has 60,000 users in NYC and 300,000 users worldwide.

Image Credit Shapr

In order to start a conversation, both people must match, giving the app a very similar feel to Tinder. When I joined my hope was that I could meet some cool people and engage with some fellow entrepreneurs.

Overall, the experience was better than what I expected. Most people on the app seem to be pretty great. That being said every app designed to connect strangers online has a wide range of people you may meet.

The Good

Most people were friendly, open to talking and passionate about the work that they were doing.

I found that many of the entrepreneurs I met or talked with were in the early stages of starting their businesses. Of the business owners I spoke with many are looking for funding for a seed round and/or looking to bring on early hires. It is always great to get to meet other people chasing their passion and building their businesses.

Outside of entrepreneurs, I had some great interactions with sales representatives from businesses looking to grow and younger people looking for guidance in career or business.

I was pleasantly surprised to find most people were not pushy in their sales roles.

The Bad

Overall, 90% of my experience was positive. However, I did find a few people who I think were trying to run some scams for funding. Although I didn’t dive too deep into the conversations, some “fundraising” plans seemed a bit off. Anything that starts out with the opportunity of investing in a Nigerian business generally throws a red flag up in my book.

I also found a few people who were pushing peer-to-peer marketing programs.

Two people sent almost the exact same text  "My mentor (person name) is developing a business and expanding.... We work with Apple, Coach.... (5 more big name businesses)" Then finishes with "are you business minded/entrepreneurial" with the promise of building passive income in my spare time.

I am personally not a fan of MLM programs but to each their own (I guess).

Shapr Conclusion

I would recommend giving the app a try if you are in the startup world or interested in jumping into the startup community in NYC. I found most people on the App were in the early stages of their business and interested in connecting either by phone or in person. There is a good mix of people from business owners, to people looking for mentorship that you could connect with.

Like any place on the internet where you are meeting strangers use good judgment and if something feels a bit too good to be true it probably is. Then again, I may have missed out on a major investment opportunity from a Nigerian Prince.

Company Background

Shapr is a NYC based business cofounded by Ludovic Huraux CEO & Jonathan Rogez Head of Product. Shapr has raised a total of $7 million in funding in two rounds; $3m in January 2015 and an additional $4 million in October 2016.

 

Josh Bobrowsky- CoFounder & CEO

 


7 New York City Startups to Watch Over the Next 12 Months

New York City is one of the best cities in the world for startups. Last year, 421 NYC based startups collectively raised over $9.5 billion.  Many brand-name and billion dollar startups have come from New York.

Some of the most notable are FanDuel, Warby Parker, Blue ApronZocdoc, WeWork, Vice, and Buzzfeed. While their are many large companies that started in NYC, the city is a thriving market for small and midsize startups.

Casper

Founded in 2013, Casper is an e-commerce company that ships extremely comfortable mattresses, pillows, sheets and other bedding accessories directly to their customers’ doors.

Why they’re hot: Casper revolutionized the mattress industry by selling directly to consumers via online marketing. Taking the brick and mortar cost out of a NYC startup allows for huge profit per mattress. Prices are high, quality is good, and I happen to sleep on their product every night. Buy it at noon and it will ship today if you live in the city.

Andela

Andela—which has raised $41 million to date, the company recruits and trains the most skilled software engineers on the African continent and places them in jobs at big-name tech companies based in the United States (e.g., Microsoft and IBM).

Why they’re hot: The company is also backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Google. Having a great cause with an ability to really help companies with coding.

 

Slice

Slice is a company that helps mom-and-pop pizzerias transition to the digital era. Pizza to the People is their motto. The company earns $1.95 on each order placed through its platform recently closed a $15 million Series B round.

Why they’re hot: Over the last few years, Domino’s Pizza has fortified its digital sales channels leaving many mom-and-pop pizzerias in the dust. But Domino’s isn’t the only pizza place in the country. Last year, the pizza industry was quite lucrative, bringing in $45 billion. Slice correctly identified a market need and the company now boasts 6,000 partners across the country.

4. Frame.io

Frame.io builds technology designed to make video production collaboration a easier. Working remotely on a film editing project can provide a lot of technical difficulties, frame.io hopes to help solve this pain point.

Why they’re hot: Last year, Frame.io closed a $10 million Series A round.  Additionally the product supports over 150 file formats while enabling users to post threaded, time-stamped comments on film—making the video collaboration process that much easier. Since video content is in high demand,

5. Cheddar

Cheddar is a streaming news service that focuses on financial and tech industries. The company targets millennials who are increasingly cutting the cord and abandoning cable due to ever-increasing prices.

Why they’re hot: Cheddar recently secured an additional $19 million in financing. According to company figures, 8% of millennials have already seen Cheddar content in only one year of business.

6. Lemonade

In 2015, Lemonade began its quest to disrupt the insurance industry by offering a more affordable solution for homeowners and renters alike.

Why they’re hot: The insurance industry is an antiquated industry that is ripe for change. Using artificial intelligence, Lemonade crafts customized insurance policies for each user. Starting at $5/month for renters and $25/month for homeowners, new algorithms may allow for more savings and profitability.

Nothing to do with Becky with the Good Hair.

CB Insights

Founded in 2008, CB Insights is a tech market intelligence platform that analyzes venture capital, startups, patents, partnerships and news to help clients make better decisions. The company closed its first round of financing in 2015 when it took in $10 million in a Series A.

Why they’re hot: CB insights uses a hot technology in a hot PE market.

 

Ignitia Office

A shameless self plug. Founded in 2016 we are bringing amazing designs, exceptional community and great value to the coworking industry. The idea is to craft the best offices, to help build amazing companies and help others follow their dreams.

Why we are hot: Great design, atmosphere & Community. Opening September!

 

Which startups would you include in a list like this? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

Josh Bobrowsky- CoFounder & CEO


5 Brand-Name Companies That Grew out of Coworking Spaces

Coworking spaces can be inspirational spaces for thriving communities to grow and excel.  A number of startups have grown out of coworking spaces to become brand-name and billion dollar companies. (Interestingly enough, a number of large, established companies have also moved some of their teams into coworking facilities to reap some of the benefits that startups enjoy.)

Here are five companies you’ve heard of that started in coworking spaces. May their stories inspire ideas like your own to thrive.

1. UberImage result for uber logo

By now you’ve heard of Uber, the ridesharing startup that’s currently valued at $70 billion. What you might not have heard of was the fact that a big part of Uber grew out of The Yard, a coworking space in New York City, and RocketSpace, a coworking facility in San Francisco.

Today, Uber operates in more than 80 countries and 660 cities across the world. Cofounded by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp Uber stands as the largest ride sharing app.

Uber has major focus on self driving vehicles including ride sharing services and the trucking industry. Lately Uber has been the focus of large amounts of publicity both good and bad.

2. InstagramImage result for instagram logo

In April 2012, Instagram cofounders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger sold their platform to Facebook for $1 billion. It was a fast exit: The company was only 18-months-old at the time. At the time the world was baffled by Facebook's willingness to buy a company with no revenue for a billion dollars.

Today in retrospect it was one of the best purchases facebook has made. Instagram currently serves as Facebook's weapon of choice to compete with Snapchat.

Instagram grew out of Dogpatch Labs, a former coworking space in San Francisco. Though the company became too big for the coworking facility rather quickly, the energy and excitement that were inherent parts of the Dogpatch community inspired Instagram until it became a Facebook property.

3. ZipRecruiter   ZipRecruiter

In 2014, ZipRecruiter—a platform that connects jobseekers with companies looking to fill positions—announced it had raised $63 million in a Series A round.

ZipRecruiter was built at Coloft, a coworking space in California that closed in 2016. The company has continued to expand at a rapid clip since it moved to its own space in Santa Monica.

4. Timehop   Image result for timehop logo

If you use Facebook, you’ve come across Timehop, the nostalgia app that allows users to share old memories, statuses, pictures and other updates with their networks. Millions of people use the platform every day.

Timehop’s journey began at New Work City, a since-closed coworking space previously located in lower Manhattan.

“Having an awesome home to independent workers and entrepreneurs is crucial to New York City’s goal to become a major technology hub,” CEO Jonathan Wegener says.

5. IndiegogoImage result for indiegogo logo

The popular crowdfunding site Indiegogo is another company that can trace its roots to a coworking facility. In 2014, Indiegogo closed its Series B round, pulling in $40 million.

Today, Indiegogo is one of the largest crowdfunding platforms in the world. Ironically, the site has been used to finance a number of companies that are based in coworking facilities themselves.

Coworking makes sense to many startups that are growing because of the flexibility and community of the spaces. Every coworking space is a bit different. However, its a great option for many companies.

 

Thanks for reading

 

Josh Bobrowsky- CoFounder & CEO


The Future Of Retail

Experience + Revenue Per Sq. Ft.= Future of Retail

Amazon and online retail are changing the way we shop. Brick and mortar stores that do not offer a positive consumer experience are shuttering at what feels like an alarming rate. Shopping malls around the country are being torn down, repurposed and left behind.

In order to survive retail stores must adapt to create a consumer experience that is better than buying online

Here is a short list of businesses that are filing bankruptcy or shutting down many of their physical stores. The links below tell some of the story of each business's store closings.

-Sears
-Radio Shack
-Bebe Stores
-Payless Shoes
-Limited Stores
-HHGregg Inc
-Gander Mountain
- Rue 21
-Crocs
-JC Penney
-American Apparel
-Wet Seal
-Macys
-K Mart
This year the WSJ estimates that over 8000 Retail stores will be closing their doors this year. Yet, not all retail is failing.

Why Apple is Winning in Retail

Apple is an exceptional example of the power of a quality retail experience. Across the brand at almost any Apple store you are greeted by employees who are passionate, knowledgeable and help you with your overall consumer experience.

Apple has a great return policy, provides in store classes for consumers of many skill levels, and keeps their stores clean, efficient and organized.

Have a problem with your Apple product? Set a time online and they will help you troubleshoot it for free.

The result is that Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world, and has the highest revenue per square foot of any retail chain (over $4,000 per square foot).

Premium Products Not Required

Brands like Costco, Victoria Secret, and Dicks Sporting Goods provide consumers with experiences that you can't get online.

Costco may be known for the ability to buy in bulk, but the in store consumer experience is surprisingly good. From free samples, to happy employees, to well put together product demonstrations Costco blends value with experience.

Engaging Communities

As human beings we desire to be a part of a group or tribe. Despite advances in technology human nature values face to face interactions and being part of a group.

Stores like Lululemon (an athletic clothing company) & Whole Foods do an outstanding job of engaging and supporting the local communities. Walk into a Lululemon and you will find pictures of local fitness instructors, yoga classes and passionate employees.

The grass roots approach to experience combined with a great product allows Lulu the ability to succeed in the current markets.

Whole Foods supports community events, and spends 5% of their days helping in communities.

Crafting a real sense of community and reaching out to influencers in local communities takes time, effort, knowledge and passion. It is a dynamic change from simply offering goods.

Surviving Future Retail

By having an experience and a product people want to buy, brick and mortar retail will move forward. The change is that offering a product alone is likely not enough to offset the costs of brick and mortar stores. By providing consumers with a memorable positive experience retail stores will continue to grow their brands.

 


KISI Interview... The Future of Locks

Kisi is a company that allows keyless door entry via cell phones for growing communities.

Max Schuetz from Kisi Interview

 

I recently had the pleasure of Interviewing Max Schuetz Cofounder of Kisi (pronounced like a combination of the words Key & Easy). Kisi is a Brooklyn-based company that provides cool security solutions, that replaces traditional lock and key door entry.

Check out the video for some more details

Max and his team founded Kisi when they were working at a high tech fitness company in Munich Germany. When the fitness company grew from 5 to 30 people there needed to a be a secure way to let everyone in and out of the building.  Regular keys became an issue because of the high turnover rate in the fitness industry. So they created a secure way to allow people entry and without keys. Eventually Max and his team went on to start Kisi.

Competition Winner

In 2013, Kisi entered and won a startup competition called the NYC Next Idea Award. The award came with a monetary prize of $30,000, as well as a special condition: Max and his team had to move to NYC.

Just like that, Kisi was moving from Munich to NYC. Within 3 days of landing in New York they had their first client in midtown. New York has provided many clients for the young company, from coworking spaces to commercial offices, any building that wants intelligent security management is a potential client.

Max explained that NYC is a great place, and a great place to run a startup. Although the city itself can be expensive there are smart and affordable ways to deal with transportation and food. They key according to Max is knowing how to get a good deal in the city.

By 2014 Kisi had secured its first round of venture financing totaling $1.5 Million.  The Seed round was lead by Point Nine Capital. Point Nine is a Berlin based VC firm with over 100 investments in over 80 companies according to Crunchbase.

Max says that his company has been extremely careful to avoid overspending and that has allowed his team to stretch the VC funding. He believes they will likely seek another round of capital in the future to help accelerate growth.

After taking the time to hear all about Kisi it’s always great to understand founders. Below are a few Question and answers with Max

Interview Questions

 

Josh: Who are your mentors?

Max Mentors should know more than you do and experienced what you want to experience or avoid it. So the range is broad from old family friends to customers who are a couple of steps ahead of Kisi and are willing to share their experience.

Josh: What are your personal goals for the next 12 months?

Max: In order to do great work you have to love what you do, there is very little separation between work and play. So my personal goals are very much those of the business. I would like to see us double our clients in the next 12 months

Josh: What books have inspired you most?

Max: Keith Richard’s autobiography is a great read. It’s exciting to get a peek into his turbulent career and to learn more about music history and how technology influenced music. Keith Richard’s passion is infectious.

Thank you for being late by Thomas Friedman- It’s about accelerated change in technology, economy and nature and what will happen since we enetered the second half of the chess board (see the legend of Paal Paysam).

Closing Thoughts

It was great talking with Max. He and the rest of the Kisi seem to be moving quickly with new technology and are offering a cool take on the 4000 year old concept of the Key. We are looking forward to seeing them grow and watching how they evolve as part of the NYC startup community.

 

Full Disclosure we will likely use the Kisi solution at our Coworking space as well.

 

Cheers

Josh Bobrowsky

 


Ignitia Office Featured in Wall Street Journal

Recently Ignitia Office was featured in the Wall Street Journal in an article by Keiko Morris. Keiko is a reporter who specializes in commercial real estate in New York. The piece was published in print and online after interviews with ownership from 1000 Dean Street and Co-Founders Josh Bobrowsky & Stephen DeRosa.

The article from the Journal is Below

"Co-working firm Ignitia Office plans to set up its first location at a renovated loft building in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where creative firms have clustered.

Ignitia Office will take 17,000 square feet on the ground floor of 1000 Dean St., a 150,000-square-foot building that was once used to service Studebaker automobiles, said Marc Agger, a principal at Brownstoner Development LLC.

Brownstoner is part of a joint venture including BFC Partners and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group that redeveloped the four-story building.

Most of Ignitia’s co-working space will be devoted to private offices, said Josh Bobrowsky, co-founder and chief executive. The building worked perfectly for Ignitia because of its 9,000-square-foot food and beer hall called Berg’n, Mr. Bobrowsky said. Ignitia signed a 15-year lease.

“It allows us to have a total ecosystem in one space,” Mr. Bobrowsky said, referring to the food and beer hall. “It’s a unique offering you don’t find anywhere.”"

 

 


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