A little over two years ago, when we all suddenly found ourselves locked up in our homes, musing about how everything will be back to normal by summer 2020, it was already apparent that the massive shift to virtual meetings and remote productivity will have its own effect not only on the way we work, but also on new solutions we’ll end up seeing in our dealflow as investors. Solutions that are based on the shifting perception of where and how people work, and how they interact in a world where travel is limited, or absent, and where entire corporations of hundreds of thousands of workers continue moving billions of euros and megatons of products around the world with everyone working from their laptop at home.
Or were they? As the pandemic uncertainty made place for a newfound ‘normal’, a plethora of attitudes towards the most basic aspect of work became commonplace. From teams that insist on going back to the office while their employers gave up on physical space, to corporations mandating people to return to the office and employees leaving in droves because of it. And any variation of possibilities in between.
At Vitosha we kind of stuck to the office throughout the pandemic, and I can’t be happier about it. We did have the occasional Covid scare when someone tested positive, but then we also always had the bonding and the many non-work watercooler moments which famously are the essence of company culture.
But what happens when your team is full of different characters, from WFAers to regular office goers, and anything in between? Then perhaps Multispace is the kind of solution to find office space options that work for everyone.
The idea originated in the first pandemic summer of 2020, when Ramona and Spasen were first confronted with diametrically opposed office attitudes in their two jointly run businesses for tech recruitment and tech development. At once, a new parameter to match candidates with employers became important, next to salary, qualifications, and the like. Does the company’s workplace culture match the needs and expectations of the candidate? The way Spasen explains it, as we sip orange juice on a balmy Sofia summer afternoon next to one of their Multispace locations in Sofia, “we found ourselves calling the many Sofia coworking spaces when placing candidates that wanted an office to go to, when their employer wasn’t offering one anymore. And vice versa, for companies that required offices for distributed teams, but the team members weren’t willing to come in every day. That’s when we knew we were onto something.”
Spasen and Ramona
And so, with a few first clients from among their own tech firms and job candidates, the first, manual version of Multispace was born; as an extra employment perk, some candidates for some of the jobs were getting offered a flexible option to choose a workspace, for fixed number of days a week, at one of the coworking spaces Ramona and Spasen made a deal with. “When we saw how enthusiastic both the employees and employers reacted to this option, we were like “bingo”’, quips Ramona.
Fast forward to 2021, the founders regrouped their previous activities to other business partners, and decided to go all-in on the flexible space concept, which they dubbed Multispace. At its core is a subscription service that is paid by employers, next to offering a proprietary office, or instead of it. Employees get access to a platform where they can book any type of setting their employer allows or requires, be it a desk, an enclosed office, or just a meeting room or call booth, at any of the participating providers. Employers in turn can use Multispace either as an HR tool for office space management, or as an employment perk, or indeed both.
As Multispace entered 2022, it came up on our radar at Vitosha, and got us pretty excited. As we negotiated the seed investment into the company, several dozen office locations in Sofia signed up for the pre-launch closed beta, as did a number of impressive employers. When Multispace finally launched a public beta a few months ago, it was promising to see some of Sofia’s most sought-after shared offices welcoming a number of high-profile startups as clients.
It’s exciting times ahead for Multispace, first to tweak out the final kinks in the tech for a proper public launch, and then to start scaling the proposition outside the testbed that is Sofia. Also, as Ramona and Spasen emphasize, there are exciting opportunities outside the co-working space business. With many of their employer clients wondering what to do with excess office space, there is an entire new business line available to offer it up for flexible booking by flexible teams.
The promise of booking your workplace as easily as ordering a lunch or a shared scooter, all part of an employment package, is the premise we embarked on with Multispace, and we’re excited to see it become reality. Here’s to Multispace becoming an option in a city, office space, and company near you.