Q&A: Nomadworks’s Steven Cohen on Organic Growth and the Industry’s Future

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Upflex caught up with our partner Nomadworks’ Founder & CEO, Steven Cohen about what brought him to Nomadworks, what sets the coworking company apart, and how he foresees his coworking business and coworking at large developing in the future.

Upflex: Let’s talk about Nomadworks. What makes it unique?

Steven Cohen: “Sure. So, we focus on 3 unique elements: work-life balance, community & events and quality of space. In terms of work-life balance, we provide free weekly yoga, a meditation room, a hair salon, a bike area and showers — a whole village within a community, which enables members to take advantage of work-life balance.”

Upflex: What about community and events?

“In terms of community and events; we focus on hospitality: all members of the team have hospitality-focused backgrounds. We have high profile industry experts speak at regular events, and we have member gatherings. This is where members can present their respective businesses. A number of gatherings are sponsored by our partner, New York Angels, a leading US investor group. We also have social events like happy hour, bagel Mondays, group yoga, etc.”

Upflex: And quality of space?

“Yes. At Nomadworks, we operate under a — yes — Nomadic theme. This means natural lighting, coworking areas, large windows, sitting and standing desk areas, numerous phone booths, etc. This delivers quality of experience.”

Upflex: Yes. If I’m a nomad, moving around constantly, the last thing I want is sub-par quality of space when I go to work. Where do you see this project going?

“We’ve developed a 2nd location just a block away, and we’re working on a 3rd location. In regard to Nomadworks’s future, I believe there’s a unique opportunity for coworking to be of an excellent standard, while affordable. Specifically, we’d like to drive our organic growth whilst continuing our focus on our range of amenities and wellness — this will further differentiate us.”

Upflex: What you bring to the coworking experience is a strong value-add. It probably garners a loyal client base.

“Yes. And we want to grow the membership base in a long-term way. This means focusing on our high service level and sustainability, which includes a focus on the underlying performance and profitability of the business. Sustainability is important. So that means we will plan to open new locations on site by site metrics, on a highly selective basis.”

Upflex: Very smart. It’s not a race; it’s a marathon.

“Exactly. We’re looking into other east coast locations and we’ve recently launched virtual memberships, in partnership with Upflex—we’ve developed a Nomad Passport membership, which is very exciting. So yes, physical and virtual growth in a sustainable and methodical way.”

Upflex: This all makes sense; very prudent. How did you figure out this was the right path for your business? What inspired you to begin with?

“I was inspired to create the Nomadworks concept given my extensive background in developing consumer brands and retail, primarily in Europe. To me, the coworking space lacked a boutique service level at an affordable price, within this growing industry.”

Upflex: Got it. So you created Nomadworks to fill the gap in the market.

“Yes. And the history of the space speaks to that. Prior to 2018, it was another coworking business. But we’ve changed everything from branding, to staffing teams, to products and pricing; and have since focused on it with our core principles in mind. We’re now in the process of fashioning a roof terrace for our main Broadway space.”

Upflex: That’s amazing. What an awesome space in the middle of the city. What drew you to refashion this space in particular?

“There are several amazing new hotels opening in the area in 2020 and 2021. The subways are all here; it’s highly accessible. In general, the area is buzzing with business and social activity; and we want to be an integral part of that.

Upflex: You touched on your background a bit. I’m sure people would love to know your journey up until this point.

“Sure. For university, I attended Cambridge in the United Kingdom; I then entered finance. I then led 2 retail chains in the UK and the EU — north of 200 locations each. Then, in 2017, I moved to NY and was drawn by the local business opportunities in retail and hospitality.

Upflex: It sounds like you’ve always kept a pulse on relevant industries and you saw a true business opportunity. Now that you’ve spent time in the coworking industry, where do you see the industry headed?

“Well for us, we plan to move forward with a hospitality ethos and location-by-location metrics for our site selection. I feel that there’s a great opportunity for brands with that particular focus. Because people will continue to work, and companies will continue to take advantage of the coworking model, i.e., looking for flexibility as they grow / contract — why the coworking model? Apart from the obvious advantages of flexibility, research shows that a community-oriented environment is preferred. People like to collaborate, and companies want to reduce their long-term overhead; so shorter-term licenses / memberships, supporting entrepreneurial business needs are ideal.”

Upflex: Yes, it seems like long-term overhead — leases as liabilities — are unfavored partly because of uncertainty in the larger economic landscape.

“Yes, various economic uncertainties naturally lead to the coworking model; because companies increasingly value flexibility.”