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‘Workstation is out to boost economy, enable innovations’

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Michelle Andrade

Michelle Andrade is the Chief Operating Officer of Workstation in Nigeria. Originally from Brockton, Massachusetts, Michelle received her Bachelors of Science in Business Management with a concentration on Accounting from Boston College.

Before making the leap into the start-up world, she worked as a senior accountant and analyst for companies in Washington D.C. and Boston, USA.

As Workstation’s COO, Andrade uses her intellect, diverse skillset and innovation to create, implement and manage operations, member community and business development of one of Lagos’ largest and innovative co-working centers.

Andrade, who is of Cape Verdean descent, is deeply committed to supporting African entrepreneurs, helping small businesses scale and building an ecosystem of change-agents. She spoke with ADEYEMI ADEPETUN, on the development around Workstation. Excerpts…..
 

Can you give an overview of what Workstation is all about?

Workstation’s mission is to drive innovation in Africa by providing affordable shared workspaces and private offices to entrepreneurs, professional individuals, and SMEs. We have an array of membership plans that range between daily and yearly, which all include access to our fitness center, printing machines, high-speed Internet, meeting rooms and more. There’s even a healthy café on site!

One of our members described us as more than a co-working space, but a “co-everything space” meaning that we do more than just provide members with a place to work. We offer professional/personal development classes and a variety of events to keep our members growing, productive, and happy. We open 24 hours, seven-days a week. That’s hard to find in this area!

With different people from various backgrounds converging here on daily, how do you manage their affairs?

Our diverse community is one of the unique aspects of our space. We are not a tech hub, but instead, we have a tech-enabled facility that supports members from all industries. Our environment promotes productivity and collaboration. Members have the same mission to be a part of a successful company.

Our growth has been 100 per cent organic, which means everyone in our space is here because they want to connect with others. A lot of our members joined because a friend/colleague referred them or because they found us on Instagram. We have journalists, software developers, photographers, digital marketers, lawyers, venture capitalists and more.

To be honest, there have never been any quarrels in our community. Our facilities are also big enough that you can work independently or network if you please. We give thorough tours and offer plenty of ways to get to know our space before committing to it. Workstation has a unique vibe and our team works hard to maintain this family feel.

To explore the opportunities provided by Workstation, it must cost a fortune. How do you get funded?

When you bootstrap a company, you learn a lot about improvising and working with what you have. A lot of research was done to build a model we can sustain. We looked at successful co-working spaces around the world and more importantly, what is needed in this particular market, since our pilot location is here in Victoria Island is something of this nature.

Our private offices and fixed desks are 100 per cent full, although we are adding additional spaces in the next two months. We are able to operate successfully because we continued to welcome new members, retain old members, and keep our premium memberships at capacity.

We will be looking to raise funds as we expand, so fingers crossed! Running a place like Workstation isn’t easy because it has a lot of moving parts, but seeing the ecosystem we are building makes it all worth it.

What does it take to register as member?

We don’t have a prerequisite for our members besides a valid form of identification.

In terms of joining Workstation, we are very flexible and affordable, which is important to start-ups and entrepreneurs. We have daily and monthly memberships. Our private office requires a one-year commitment that can be paid quarterly and our fixed desk memberships also allow for quarterly payments.

Our members range from global companies like IFLIX and Dalberg to local start-ups such as MyMusic, Ingressive, Muster NG and Lara NG.

The diversity in our members is a reflection of how flexible our plans are. We believe every industry adds value to the private sector, so we welcome all backgrounds to our community. You can sign up via our online Digital Member Network or come in person.

How do you think an initiative like this can benefit the economy?

Workstation Bar Beach in Victoria Island is our pilot location. As we expand, we will provide members with the flexibility of having difference workspaces to work out, depending on if they’re on the island or on the main land.

It benefits the economy because we are providing affordable solutions for entrepreneurs and companies, which in turn will let them focus on their core businesses and boost the economy with their contributions.

Growing SMEs means providing job opportunities and strengthening the private sector which in turn would strengthen the economy. We too are providing job opportunities because we need several staff to run our facilities.

We are providing locals with important tools – we’re building leaders through our variety of programs/trainings and we’re helping people become more educated. The importance of collaboration and bringing people together is evident in our space as well. People need more than an office, they need support and we are giving them all that at Workstation.

Since it is a private company, who is the brain behind it?

Workstation was cofounded by two brothers, both of Nigerian descent. They schooled in the US, but both have global experience and unique backgrounds which together, brought about Workstation.

Is there any plan to replicate Workstation outside Lagos?

Absolutely! Like many of our members, we are also a start-up. Scaling would allow us connect African countries and increase collaboration amongst them.

With our Digital Member Network, Workstation members across Africa along with people interested in doing business in Africa would be able to connect with each other.

Stay tuned for our expansion plans that are happening sooner than later.


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