RALEIGH – DeShawn Brown believes there’s a cultural shift happening in the way people work today.
And he’s ready to capitalize on it.
Enter Coworks, a co-working software management startup that he founded which helps operators of flexible workspace/innovation hubs manage their members and spaces through data, automation and member engagement.
“It’s kind of a one-stop shop solution for handling all the different components that make up a co-working space,” the 26-year-old NC State graduate told WRAL TechWire.
According to his estimates, around 50 percent of the U.S. workforce will consist of remote and digital workers by 2020. “People don’t want to be chained down to a desk, but they do need a professional setting. They want that human companionship to foster those ideas,” he said.
“We want to be the go-to solution for any independent [operator] that is trying to grow or scale, but doesn’t have billions of dollars to invest in proprietary software.”
Given that a new co-working space seems to pop up everywhere you turn in the Triangle these days, he may be onto something.
Certainly, that’s what the folks at Techstars believe. The heavyweight startup accelerator recently selected the startup for its program, in partnership with Cox Enterprises, based out of Atlanta.
Only 10 startups around the country earned coveted spots — including another North Carolina firm, Talented, based out of Durham.
13-week intensive program
Starting this week, Brown will relocate to Atlanta to to immerse himself in the 13-week intensive program, gaining access to $120,000 in funding and Techstars mentor network.
In exchange, he has agreed to give up six percent of equity.
For Brown — who is also the founder of Lithios, a mobile development company — it’s worth it. He’s especially motivated to tap into the local co-working scene there.
“We wanted a market where we could be hands on and make a big splash,” he said.
Launched in 2018, Coworks has already signed up more than 20 co-working spaces, mostly in the Southeast, though clients come as far as Nebraska, Canada and Romania. Closer to home, spaces like HQ Raleigh, Loading Dock, Recity and NCSU Cennential Campus have all signed up. To date, the company has processed $2 million through its billing platform and counting.
“What gets me excited is, this is really early days,” he said. “Ultimately, we think it’s the future of workspace. In 10 years, people aren’t going to call it co-working. They’re just going to call it office. It’s going to be flexible, service oriented, because it just makes sense. We think it’s going to be a huge market.”