Sunday 15 September 2019

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Cork Independent

Business & Professional

Culture CoWorking aims to offer something new

Wednesday, 26th September, 2018 4:24pm

We know Cork is on the up, a city rising - the evidence is all around us.

A new coworking space was set up in Cork recently, reflecting that confidence. It’s not just for start-ups though, founder Andrew Whitaker explains, and it has another essential point of difference with other such spaces.

“There are people who aren’t necessarily in a start-up or small company but people who want an environment that is professional and that they can meet clients or interact with other people. Working from home or remotely can be quite difficult for a number of reasons but the main issue is that it can be quite isolating and I wanted to create a community for these people,” he explains.

Culture CoWorking is located in the Marina Commercial Park on Centre Park Road offering hot desking, the use of conference rooms, free parking, a video conference room, virtual office services and more.

After a long career in the motor industry working with Johnson and Perrott, the Corkman has changed lanes and entered an entirely new industry.

“I always wanted to be my own boss, even though I was in quite a senior position in my last role there is a difference when you are the ultimate decision maker. It brings its own stresses and headaches but when you are working for yourself, it doesn't really feel like work as you are passionate about what you are doing and trying to build it.

“I realized that there was a need for a space like Culture, somewhere that people working remotely or independently could go.”

While there are other excellent co-working spaces in Cork, Andrew believes that Culture CoWorking offers something different.

“Our main difference is the focus on work/life balance. Everybody has been guilty of living to work at some stage and when you have a partner or young family, they can be neglected but more importantly, you don't take care of yourself both mentally or physically.

“From the start, I knew I wanted to put in showers because exercise is so important. Culture CoWorking's location is crucial - coming from Passage, Rochestown or Douglas you can cycle nearly all the way on a cycle path. It is so easy to cycle in to work and I do it myself twice a week,” he says.

“Also, we have some great places to go for a run; we will be starting up a running club soon for all our members. Exercise doesn't just mean running or cycling but simple things like going for a walk. The marina is a lovely place to walk and there are so many nice spots for lunch around us.

“Also, the South Mall is only 10 minutes’ walk away, if you have to meet a client in town leave the car with us and walk in, it’s healthier and easier.”

He says the response to the arrival of Culture CoWorking has been great and everybody that has looked at the space has been very impressed. “The fact that we have free parking 24/7 365 days a year is a big plus for people. Also, there are so many people out there who have helped me out with a problem or offered support and I really am grateful to all of them.”

The nature of work is changing, with technology and our increased global connectedness meaning traditional office hours don’t work for everyone or for all businesses. It is a very interesting time to be involved in the sector, Andrew reckons.

“It's a rapidly expanding sector as the working environment is changing so quickly. We have some truly superb co-working spaces in Ireland and I have met some of the owners/operators and these people are very impressive. They are very forward thinking and always looking to develop their businesses.

“They are all very customer-focused and building a community in their spaces. There are other players in the industry who are more corporate and don't have a face so to speak,” he thinks.

Variety has been the most distinctive aspect of the Corkman’s career so far. Although he worked in a very successful family business for 18 years, he experienced a number of different roles from renting out cars in Dublin Airport, to accounts, the IT dept, becoming a marketing manager, a sales manager and finally a dealer principal.

“The one thing every role had in common and that I learned from the family business was to look after your customer and the people that work with you. I worked with some great people who I learned a lot from, but you also learn from the not-so-great. I know how to look after people and Culture CoWorking is all about building a community and if they need advice on what car to buy I can also help them with that too!”

The start-up scene in Cork is “incredibly vibrant” at the moment, he suggests. “I was at a Cork Chamber of Commerce event for new members recently and to see the range of businesses out there was very impressive. The tech scene is starting to really take off but there are people out there who have come up with some innovative companies and ideas.”

Notwithstanding that, Andrew sees cashflow as one of the key challenges facing start-ups in Cork.

“When you are starting out and building your business, there is an awful lot of money going out and when you do make a sale, ensuring that the revenue comes in on time is a challenge. Also, how do you tell people about who you are, when you have very little budget and there are so many ads out there, how do you get your message to people?”

The company founder is optimistic and ambitious about Culture Co-Working’s future.

“I had one big criteria when I was looking at what I wanted to do - scalability. I certainly see a couple of locations in the future. I also want to expand Culture's current location. You want to grow in the right way, not by opening locations where you lose the ethos of business or the people involved. They also have to be profitable, I would much rather have one very successful location then three that are making very little money,” he says.

Finally, he adds that Cork is really a vibrant place at the moment with so much happening. “It really is a great place to live and do business in, business people have a great ‘can do’ attitude and it feels like all the various bodies are getting behind the development of the city. I always have been very positive and proud of Cork as my family and my wife's family have been in business in Cork for a long time and there are so many other businesses like that in Cork,” he says.

See culturecoworking.ie/ for pricing plans and more information.

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