John Arenas of Serendipity Labs has successfully built several brands - including Stratis Business Centers - with differing models in the serviced workspace industry. We interviewed John to learn how Serendipity Labs is progressing.
When and how did you start at Serendipity Labs?
I was fortunate to be able to bring together a veteran team of workplace and hospitality executives and key strategic partners in 2012. We set out to create a world-class brand of coworkers to meet the needs of companies of all sizes across all industry categories and stages of development, not just tech startups and creative class.
What are your market challenges right now?
With the rapid rise of coworking as an offering designed primarily for urban millennials, Serendipity Labs has had to be careful to distinguish itself as offering a workplace environment that is also friendly to corporate employees, project teams, mobile professionals, and female groups that have been underserved by coworking.
What makes Serendipity Labs stand out from other work spaces?
Serendipity Labs provides its members with a broader professional platform beyond just office and meeting room rental space. The physical design of our Labs supports carefully curated daily programming that includes meetups, seminars, workshops and social events. That can involve everything from tech meet-ups to women's professional groups, to private Tesla test-drive events. Those kinds of events create a sense of community and connection among members. Also, our cloud-based technology platform, which allows us to deliver a great member experience across our network of locations at unmatched service level standards for security, safety, reporting, and hospitality distinguishes us.
The past few years have been really tough. How have you coped?
With over 20 years creating and building enterprises in the workplace services industry; Stratis Business Centers, Regus, and Worktopia our management team has certainly experienced the challenges of economic cycles. However, we have learned with each cycle to mitigate and manage risks through continuous innovation and acute attention to thoughtful partnerships with property owners and customers that align our goals in any economy. Flexibility in lease structures and management contracts, an emphasis on bringing value as a fully integrated shared tenant amenity, and joint marketing with property owners are just a few ways we do this.
What service or product has the most potential for growth?
The great news is that worker mobility and connectivity continue to accelerate, while companies look to support good workplace choices outside the corporate workplace. Everyone is effectively a digital free agent now, even corporate employees, and up to 60% of the US workforce is expected to be independent in the next 5 years. Consider also that over 1/3 of the workforce is now comprised of millennials, there is an entire generation who are expecting to be able to choose how, when, and where they work. Our view is that workplace memberships that can deliver a high level of service and reflect the member's values will be in great demand.
What is your proudest accomplishment in the industry?
I've learned that pride usually precedes humility, so I will answer carefully. Creating and growing three workplace industry brands certainly has provided moments of pride, but fast growing companies have to be organized with a central purpose of teaching, coaching and supporting others while trying to lead the way forward. So, the best moments are those when employees develop and grow confident in new abilities and customers share stories about how we have been a part of unlocking their potential: professionally, and more importantly, personally.
When and why did you join GWA?
I believe I first joined GWA when it was the ESA (Executive Suite Association) in the mid 1990s. At the time, it was because I was trying to learn about best operating practices and what products and services and technology were being offered. Over the years, I have to say I have stayed for the people.
How do you spend time outside of work?
As a serial entrepreneur, work is an avocation as well as vocation, but of course I love to spend time with my wife and family. I am also engaged in community through service and support to local organizations, particularly in the arts.
What's your favorite quote?
"People may not always remember what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel."- Maya Angelou