Connect with us


WeWork Labs set for SA: we take a look inside

Global shared workspace provider WeWork will launch its first South African Labs location next month. ON FREUND gives us the inside story



Global shared workspace provider and community platform WeWork recently announced it will open its second South African location, in Cape Town, before the end of 2019. Now, it is set to launch WeWorks Labs in Africa, with Johannesburg set to be the first location, opening next month.

We asked ON FREUND, EMEA head of WeWork Labs, to tell us more about the operation and WeWork’s plans.

What are your plans for WeWork Labs in South Africa?

Before I talk about WeWork Labs, I’d like to give a quick overview of WeWork itself. WeWork is a global community platform which offers companies of all sizes the space, community and services they need to create their life’s work. WeWork is currently present in 105 cities across 27 countries. WeWork Labs will open its doors in our first location in Johannesburg, 173 Oxford Road, in August this year. WeWork Labs provides support for early-stage startups and entrepreneurs around the world. Not only will members in Johannesburg receive a tailor-made support programme, curated by a local WeWork Labs manager, but they will also be part of WeWork’s global network of over 466,000 members, along with the Labs community spread across 50 locations in 32 cities and 15 countries.

The Labs manager will work closely with the Labs members to develop personalised workshops and events, and build connections with investors, mentors and the local startup scene, according to the members’ individual needs. Participating start-ups are offered courses, events and one-on-one sessions to get advice on everything from accounting and marketing to hiring and convincing future investors.In Johannesburg, WeWork Labs will be home to 80 members. 

How does this differ from its approach in other countries?

When it comes to WeWork Labs, there is a really special dynamic between local and global. The programme itself is universal in terms of exclusive member benefits and discounts, and access to the global network of WeWork members. Our WeWork Labs Satellite Programme provides members with opportunities to access programming in any of our global locations, so Labs members can tap into any space whenever they’re travelling, be it Tel Aviv or Shanghai.  It also offers a mentor network comprising more than 1,300 professionals worldwide. Whilst the Labs concept is the same throughout the world, the initiative prides itself on offering a bespoke, localised offering. By sourcing a WeWork Labs manager with expert experience and of course bringing together a community of individual entrepreneurs and early-stage start-ups based in Johannesburg, we hope to create customised programming to meet our members’ personal and professional development needs in South Africa.

How will WeWork Labs collaborate or share with the WeWork offices in Johannesburg?

WeWork Labs members will be located in WeWork, 173 Oxford Road based in Johannesburg. Similarly to WeWork members, Lab members are able to interact with other Labs members across the world, as well as engage with the rest of the WeWork global community including entrepreneurs, start-ups and enterprise companies. Enterprise companies make up 40 percent of WeWork’s global community –examples include HSBC, Citi and Deloitte– and is a big attraction for smaller startups and Labs members as they’re able to not only share a workspace with these larger companies, but also have the opportunity to interact, collaborate and share ideas with these businesses. For example, in London, we found that a third of our members said other WeWork members had given them ideas on how to improve their businesses. We recently announced that in South Africa, Naspers will be taking space with us at 173 Oxford Road. I’m looking forward to seeing the interaction between these large enterprise companies and our Labs members, and the rest of the community.

Your slogan talks about helping to create the future. To what extent does this suggests a strong research & development orientation?

At WeWork, our aim is to empower inventive humans and organisations to impact the present and influence the future. As a business, we are focused on driving efficiency and adapting in areas of the company in order to meet the ever-evolving needs of our members, whether it be entrepreneurs, start-ups, SMEs or enterprise companies. On the ground level, our community teams are in constant contact with our members and hear from them any feedback they may have about the space or our services.

From a tech side, we focus on efficiency, elasticity and engagement. Technology is integrated into everything we do; we use anonymous data and analytics from our global fleet of buildings to better understand larger-scale urbanism and real estate trends, as well as evaluate new locations and services to help our members save, grow and thrive. We recently found that globally, a company of four can save $24,000 (or 35%) on average annually over traditional commercial real estate options. We see real value in taking non-structured data from the physical world and input our findings for machine learning development as well as predictive analytics, for example reallocating conference rooms based on meeting responses. Our collection of member data is anonymous and provides invaluable insight into the member experience as a whole, as well as their working habits to predict and create the future of work. 

Will you have similar partnerships in SA as WeWork Labs has with Alibaba Cloud in China? Please elaborate on potential partnerships here.

We’re thinking about all sorts of ways to service our community globally, and part of this is looking at potential partnerships that will provide our members with useful offerings. Right now, we’re connecting with local start ups and potential partners in the area, but I have no news to share on this at present. 

What are your plans to expand to other tech hubs in South Africa, like Stellenbosch?

Right now, we’re focusing on launching our first WeWork Labs programme and building our community in South Africa. We’re excited to expand our footprint across the country, having recently announced a new WeWork location in Cape Town, bringing our total number of locations in South Africa to three.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


It’s printing, Jim, but not as we know it

Selling printing services is not only about the hardware anymore, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK



The seminal science fiction series Star Trek generated many catch-lines, like “The Prime Directive” and “Live long and prosper”. One of its most parodied lines, however, is Doctor Bones McCoy’s words to Captain Kirk on encountering an alien species: “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.”

That’s exactly the way one could describe the printer industry today. Every time an HP, Epson or Konica Minolta releases a new machine for this sector, one can sense the puzzled frowns of people taken by surprise that it still exists.

The difference is that it has evolved from a focus on paper to an emphasis on document management.

One of the first companies to spot that shift in the market, Japanese-headquartered Konica-Minolta, pioneered the concept of a dedicated printer company introducing its own software development division.

“We’ve always believed our role is solving problems for the customer, and not just to provide print, copy and scan solutions,” says Marc Pillay, CEO of the company’s South African division. “Our primary focus is multi-functional devices, but we always look at adding value to clients. Our real job is to assist in achieving a better return on investment.”

The proof of the pudding is that the local division is one of the biggest Konica-Minolta distributors in the world. The reason is simple: unlike most other countries, the South African operation has both a direct and indirect channel. That means it is able to supply companies through its reseller network, while also having a presence on the ground in the form of a dealer network across the country. That, in turn, has given it access to municipalities and other organs of state.

“Our value proposition is based on quality products, service and an unparalleled supply chain,” says Pillay. “When everyone was afraid to do business with government, we thrived on it. It comes from being located in areas where it’s easy to do business with us.”

One could call that the secret of success for existing demand. The coming era, however, will require an appreciation of the next big shifts in printing, says Pillay.

“We’ve seen the big shifts from analog to digital, from monochrome to colour, and from decentralisation to centralisation of printing. The next shift is unbundling printing into a hybrid approach, using both cloud and managed solutions. It’s all going to become subscription-based, and it will be print-on-demand. The high-end customers go into that very quickly, but we still have to cater for people who just do copying.”

Pillay believes that the opening of Microsoft’s Azure data centres in South Africa in March has already made a difference.

“Now you can scan from a device into Microsoft’s SharePoint online or Google Drive. It’s not about screen size anymore, but what you can do to make an impact.”

Where people don’t print, says Pillay, they’re absorbing documents digitally.

“We have to make sure that, where we lose the print, we are gaining the management of the scan, digitisation of the document or management of the workflow. Our income will come out of the workflow.

“Clearly, we’re not just focused on selling a piece of hardware anymore.”

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

Continue Reading


SA chooses most loved local businesses



A new World Wide Worx research report identifies and names South Africa’s 12 Most Loved Local businesses, and places the spotlight on the vital role commercial businesses play in the South African economy. The country’s favourite local businesses include the Chapman’s Peak Hotel in Hout Bay – famed for its calamari, celebrity chef David Higgs’ Rosebank eatery Marble as well as Rouge Day Spa with branches in Kenilworth and Constantia in Cape Town run by a dynamic mother and daughter duo.

The aim of the Most Loved Local report was to celebrate those businesses South Africans love the most and to investigate exactly what makes consumers big fans of these entities. It further offers these enterprises insights into what it takes to succeed in business, highlights the qualities that convert clients into fans and encourages more South Africans to ‘shop’ local.

Report results

Commissioned by Santam, results were compiled using a combination of digital listening tools and traditional research. Social media listening using organic search analysis looked into which business categories were being searched for most. This was followed up with a trend analysis to assess whether a business category was growing in popularity, keyword volume analysis to refine the categories and finally social listening within the categories which businesses were being spoken about in the most positive terms. Thereafter, a poll was conducted among 2 489 respondents to find out what made them love a local business – or not. The sample was nationally representative and aligned to the economically active population per province. A respected independent research house World Wide Worx conducted the research.

The full list of businesses that came top across 12 categories are:

  1. Place to Stay: Chapmans Peak Hotel (Cape Town) – the one with the perfect calamari
  2. Eatery: Marble (Johannesburg) – the one with the celebrity chef in the kitchen
  3. Butcher: The Butcher Man (Cape Town) – the one that people cross town for
  4. Bakery: Fournos (Johannesburg) – the one that is way more than a bakery
  5. Spa: Rouge Day Spa (Cape Town) – the one run by a dynamic mother-daughter team
  6. Entertainment Spot: Gold Reef City (Johannesburg)  – the one with the heart of gold
  7. Gym: Dream Body Fitness (Johannesburg) – the one that is completely unintimidating to work out at
  8. Interior Designer: By Dezign Interiors (Johannesburg) – the one that really, really gets its clients’ style
  9. Market: Bryanston Organic & Natural Market (Johannesburg) – the one that was an organic market before it was trendy to be an organic market
  10. Laundromat: Exclusive Dry Cleaners (Johannesburg) – the one that treats every single client like family
  11. Car Wash: Tubbs’s Car Wash (Johannesburg) – the one that cleans your car while you have a haircut
  12. Construction company: Radon Projects (Pretoria) – the one that is ready all day and all night

Delving into what makes a consumer go from ‘client to fan’, the key factor standing out above all others was service. Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of World Wide Worx, says it seems South Africans will forgive a multitude of ‘sins’ if they are treated well. “Good service was the number one factor that makes 40% of those surveyed support a local business. This was followed by quality products at 18%. Third place went to value for money at 10%, proving the old adage that competing on price alone is not a sound business strategy,” said Goldstuck.

When asked what makes them loyal to a local business, some interesting views across age groups emerged. “Younger clients are more swayed by quality, while older ones are impressed by service. This seems to fit with younger people wanting the status of nice things, and older people wanting to feel valued and respected,” said Goldstuck.

Unsurprisingly, all 12 Most Loved Locals called out service as one of their guiding lights and core pillars when interviewed. Theo and George Parpottas, owners of Exclusive Dry Cleaners, the selected company in the laundromat category, believe when someone walks into their shop, they should be greeted with smiling faces and courteous people. “We don’t care if it’s the president or a beggar, from the moment they walk in, they are a client. We greet them, we are courteous, and we treat them with respect. It doesn’t matter what they bring.”

For Gary Karycou, who co-owns Marble in Rosebank with celebrity chef David Higgs, it is all about attitude. “You can teach someone anything if they want to do it, but we employ on attitude. You get the basic skills but if someone really wants to learn, you can transform them.” He continues, “Giving the best service to our clients, is our motto. It’s something that’s lacking in South Africa and even globally. Businesses just become a bit complacent.”

Famed Green Point butchery and restaurant, The Butcher Man, is owned by Arie Fabiani. He says people will drive past other butcheries and come all the way to the Butcher Man because “we deliver a great service. Good service is critical, and our team knows it.”

Another key finding was that people are more likely to recommend a business if there is a good deal or excellent value for money. Mokaedi Dilotsotlhe, Chief Marketing Officer at Santam, says this is an interesting finding. “Perhaps we are more likely to share a good deal with others and keen to help others find great nuggets of the positive trade-off between value and price. So, it is worth ensuring that, in addition to service and quality, your clients feel like they are getting value for the money they spend with you. That way, they are more likely to tell family and friends the good news!”

Dilotsotlhe added that the report’s release has been well-timed as the need to stimulate sectors of the economy which can create jobs has never been more vital. Commercial enterprises are responsible for a significant percentage of the labour-force in South Africa, and the impact thereof is significant. Due to the fact that these enterprises remain a largely underinsured sector, the campaign also seeks to highlight the need for insurance as a vital aspect of business continuity. When they thrive, it benefits the whole nation, and from a Santam perspective, this translates into sustainable growth for our business.

To download the full report, click here.

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2019 World Wide Worx