The continuing rise of cooperative workspaces

Vancouver Business Journal • May 5, 2017

From entrepreneurs looking for a traditional office space without the costly overhead, to freelancers searching for a productive place to work, coworking spaces seem to be all the rage these days, and more of them are popping up locally.


Though they come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, coworking spaces generally offer the same benefits: a shared working environment with dedicated services (Wi-Fi, conference rooms, access to scanning/copying/printing, a kitchen and eating area), utilities, a mailing address and flexible pricing plans (pay by the day, week or month).

Beyond the traditional office amenities, coworking spaces feature a dynamic work environment that proponents say encourages collaborative networking with colleagues who have different skills, experiences and business goals.

“Collaborative work environments foster a discernible sense of community and an atmosphere conducive to interaction and innovation,” said Max Ault, director of business development at the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC).


Vancouver’s newest coworking space – and the largest with 11,000 square feet – is CoLab Shared Workspace. Located at 915 Broadway St. near Black Rock Coffee on Evergreen, CoLab officially opens next month. Until then, appointment-only tours are being offered.

CoLabKylan Johnson, CoLab’s general manager, said the goal is to offer solutions for all types and stages of business. CoLab has a number of membership options including private offices for a whole team, glass pods for a hybrid office experience and open desks for those who need more flexibility. They also have a complete commercial security system, key cards and staff on-site during regular business hours.

“CoLab’s foundation is built on the value and importance of business networking and community,” said Johnson. “This means that our focus is on creating and sustaining a community of professional teams and individuals working and growing their business in tandem. Yes, we offer fast internet and free coffee, but those are just byproducts of the community being formed, and people enjoying their work.

“Because of the diverse industries involved in coworking spaces,” he added, “there are new business ideas, strategies and opportunities that form out of this organic incubator environment. This not only helps spark new business opportunities, but also helps facilitate innovation and rejuvenation within an established organization.”

One of CoLab’s first members is Dave Barcos, co-founder of The Bridge, a Vancouver-based brand incubator focused on building startups in Southwest Washington. Barcos said that because his organization works directly with early-stage companies, coworking space is an ideal place to be.

“Coworking is a new office structure that allows for great connections and opportunities with the other members of the space,” he explained. “Vancouver is on the verge of some exciting changes and growth, [and] Coworking is part of that new energy and at the heart of the way new businesses are created today.”

Ventures at Work

Another new coworking space in Vancouver is Ventures at Work, which opened in January at 14301 SE 1st St., Suite 110, near the Hampton Inn off East Mill Plain Blvd.

One way that they differentiate themselves from other spaces, according to owner Ken Peterson, is with “makerspace” – a workspace with 3-D printers, a laser cutter/burner, a programmable embroidery machine, a serger machine and sewing machine.

For office space, Ventures at Work offers private offices, dedicated desks and “hot desks” – shared desks available on a first-come, first-served basis. The private offices all offer traditional amenities and 10-18 hours of conference room usage per month (additional hours can be purchased).

“It (Ventures at Work) is an option [for] corporations with overflow, and it’s a good place for the smaller entrepreneur who can’t do things at home, or who feels more productive elsewhere or who doesn’t want to go over to the other partner’s house,” said Peterson. “If they want an environment for networking and collaborating, with a big printer and copier, mailing address and a professional place to meet clients and hold meetings, it’s a great place.”

Elizabeth Whitworth, community manager at Ventures at Work, is tasked with organizing events and helping new members sign up.

“In the future, Ventures at Work plans to offer workshops or presentations for businesses to both members and non-members,” she said.

Columbia Collective

Like CoLab and Ventures at Work, one of the city’s first coworking spaces – Columbia Collective – relies not only on Wi-Fi and a desk to attract members, but on an environment based on collaboration. The company slogan, “together is better,” stems from the idea that working in isolation is detrimental.

Columbia CollectiveAlan Hwang, a Columbia Collective member and founder of ACH Marketing, agrees.

“I chose a coworking space because of the community aspect,” he said. “It is a lot more fun to meet, interact and work with people in a group setting then it is to have my own office, where we can get closed off from the community. It’s especially easy to get overly submerged into the digital world, and being around other professionals and other local businesses helps keep my team and I grounded. The space itself allows my team to be extremely flexible. They can work from here, or work from Paris. As long as we get the work done, we can really work from anywhere. A coworking space is perfect in giving the team feel, even if most of my team works digitally most of the time.”

In the spirit of collaboration, and in observation of Small Business Month this May, new members can work at Columbia Collective (810 Main St. in downtown Vancouver) for free without any obligation to sign up for another month.

“It’s a great place for companies to grow in steps, to start in the flex area, then grab a dedicated space, and then go with your team to an office for three to five,” said co-founder Max Mikhaylenko.

Mikhaylenko listed a range of people who work at Columbia Collective, including web developers and designers, customer support, photographers, entrepreneurs who are on their own or in small teams, and other remote workers. Some work for very large companies and could work at home or at a coffee shop. However, he said many members find that a coworking space is their best option; the home environment has too many distractions and coffee shops are too loud and not conducive to productivity.


RegusYet another firm offering flexible office space locally is Regus, which has a global network of 3,000 locations. The company’s two Vancouver locations (1220 Main St. and 4400 NE 77th Avenue, Suite 275) offer members a pair of options: an open, drop-by-when-you-need-to plan, with first-come first-served desk space in a professional, shared environment; and a “reserved” plan with dedicated desks and lockable filing cabinets.

With the resources of a larger company, Regus’ amenities include a business lounge, a receptionist, a Regus app for booking workspace on the move, and access to an administrative support person whose services are rentable by the hour (for tasks like booking travel, taking minutes at meetings or stuffing envelopes).

More on the way

The commercial real estate agents we spoke to said they don’t see coworking spaces having a significant impact on the traditional commercial office market – at least not yet. However, that doesn’t mean the growing interest in coworking space has gone unnoticed.

“Coworking and collaborative workspaces are on the rise,” said Ault. “With freelancers and independent contractors on track to make up 40 percent of our workforce by 2020, coworking spaces are … increasingly more attractive – and not just to freelancers and startups, but also larger enterprises who seek a regional presence with low overhead and operational costs.”

Teresa Brum, economic development division manager for the City of Vancouver, added, “Collaborative workspace provides yet another resource for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Vancouver. We expect this market to continue to grow as more independent and creative workers put down their roots here.”

Entrepreneurship is seldom solitary

Turns out, there’s something to the idea that a collaborative working environment does more than just make entrepreneurs feel less lonely.

According to Martin Ruef of Stanford University’s Department of Sociology, “Entrepreneurship is seldom a solitary activity. Among individuals trying to start their own business in the United States, some 84 percent report the involvement of other startup participants.”

In his book, “The Entrepreneurial Group, Social Identities, Relations, and Collective Action” (from the Kaufman Foundation series on innovation and entrepreneurship), Ruef demonstrates that teams are the “leading force behind entrepreneurial startups.” He writes, “Even at the earliest stage of startup development (i.e., before there was a stream of positive cash flow), over a third of U.S. entrepreneurs in 2006 relied on regular contributions – including material investment, guidance and other support – from non-owner helpers. By comparison, only eight percent had hired full- or part-time employees.”

Ruef also stated that “Many entrepreneurs end up going it alone, but the reasons for this outcome can be complex. Some entrepreneurs are relatively isolated and suffer from limited social networks.”

Pivotel launches Thuraya Big Bundle to connect more people in remote Australia

Elevate Communication • April 4, 2017

A new hybrid satellite and mobile phone plan to be launched in April by Pivotel, is set to strengthen connectivity and reduce safety risks for residents and travellers across more than 10,800 Australian mobile black spots that currently create unreliable mobile coverage.


As Australia’s fourth mobile carrier, Pivotel is leading an industry-first initiative to bring historically more expensive satellite phone costs in line with contemporary mobile phone plans. Similar to ‘capped’ mobile plans, the service offers a large included satellite bundle and an unlimited voice and SMS bundle in standard mobile mode for $99 per month.

Pivotel CEO Peter Bolger said the new solution aims to help Australians stay in touch with friends and family from anywhere in the country, including notorious black spots areas, without the fear of satellite bill shock while providing them a single account for their mobile and their satellite services.

“Satellite phones have most commonly been used for emergency calls only as the cost per minute to talk is generally considered high compared to what we are used to with current mobile phone plans,” Mr Bolger said.

“For the first time in the satellite communications industry, we have engineered a new way to deliver a complete coverage solution, with customers enjoying unlimited voice and SMS to standard numbers while using the mobile service and having peace of mind that they have a very large satellite value bundle to use when outside of mobile coverage.

“It means peace of mind for travellers along some of the country’s most iconic off-road driving tracks including the Old Telegraph Track, Canning Stock Route and the Birdsville Track, which until now, have left travellers without network coverage, and with limited communication to friends, family and emergency services,” Mr Bolger said.

The new service builds upon Pivotel’s already unique satellite mobile service where the satellite phones use standard Australian mobile numbers, and callers on unlimited mobile bundles pay minimal costs to call a Pivotel satellite phone. This is in stark contrast to the high cost of calling competitor satellite phones that use satellite phone numbers.

The new plan will enable Pivotel customers to set up their Pivotel mobile service to automatically forward incoming calls to their satellite service when they are out of mobile coverage, with callers only needing to remember one mobile number.

“This really is a breakthrough for the mobile satellite industry; allowing travellers to stay in touch while also having a large enough mobile and satellite bundle to enjoy family milestones such as birthday calls, stay connected with friends and family, and take important calls from customers and suppliers from virtually everywhere,” Mr Bolger said.

“Australians travelling in remote areas rely on mobile devices to keep in touch with loved ones, and stay safe on the road. Running out of fuel, getting stuck in a storm or running out of water can quickly turn life threatening when exploring some of the world’s most remote terrains, which is why it’s important the satellite phone be regarded as a vital and helpful communication support, rather than an expensive emergency gadget.

“As well as all sorts of businesses, the Big Bundle plan will suit adventure seekers, grey nomads, tourists, and fly-in, fly-out workers who want to stay in touch with loved ones when outside of mobile range without breaking the bank,” Mr Bolger said.

The new offering extends cellular coverage by adding satellite connectivity on the Thuraya network and can work outside mobile coverage areas using a smartphone when accompanied by Pivotel’s SatSleeve. The SatSleeve is an innovative device that attaches to smartphones, instantly transforming a regular phone into a satellite phone without the need for a separate satellite phone.

Pivotel’s Thuraya Big Bundle plan will cost $99 and include unlimited calls and SMS when using the cellular service, plus $400 worth of satellite value for voice calling, SMS and data when using the satellite service. More information at

Magnet offers free office space to Irish companies in London • March 6, 2017

Ten Irish businesses looking to expand to Britain are being offered free office space in the heart of London as part of Magnet Networks’ Launchpad for London initiative.

“With Brexit dominating the news, it is easy to forget that Britain is our largest trading partner and offers better access to funders, a better attitude to risk and a massive market for many Irish firms,” said Magnet Networks CEO Mark Kellett.


“We believe that 2017 should be the year of Brentry, giving Irish businesses a launchpad into the city that hosts many of the world’s top companies and offers the best place to test your fundraising model, product or service offering.

“Most importantly, Irish companies who are also operating within Britain will be in a stronger position post-Brexit.

“The 10 Irish companies who base themselves at Magnet’s headquarters at York House in the smart city will pay no rent for four months. They will have the fastest connection available, direct fibre optic connections from Ireland to their London desks and access to one of the largest Internet of Things and Smart City test beds in the world.”

Enterprise Ireland regional director for the UK & Northern Europe Marina Donohue said: “The UK is the largest export market for Enterprise Ireland client companies, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future,” she said. “Having a presence on the ground in the market has always been important, and even more so since the decision was taken by Britain to leave the EU.

“Every year we help hundreds of Irish companies develop and grow their exports in to Britain, many of whom will establish a base here. The head start provided by Launchpad for London has the potential to be of huge value to help companies become established in the UK, as well as being well connected.”

Betcade returns to business having secured critical funding

SBCNews • March 6, 2017

Betcade the ‘real-money’ dedicated gaming/gambling app store has returned to business having gained critical investment from Vancouver-based private equity firm Columbia Ventures Corporations (CVC).

At the start of the year, Batcade management had issued a corporate statement informing industry stakeholders that the company had ceased its operations. At the time Betcade management did not disclose any specific reason as to why the company had shut down its enterprise.

The Pasadena-based (California) start-up returns to business, seeking to become the ‘go-to mobile app store’ for betting and gaming consumers. Betcade operations will continue to be led by CEO & Founder David Chang who commented on his firm’s return to business
“Every start-up has a near-death experience, and in those trying times you learn a lot about the company and those that you work with. Throughout the process, we have done our utmost to treat all stakeholders with respect and sincerity.”

Chang backs his firm’s revival with CVC as its new main backer. The CEO stated that Betcade would continue in its initial start-up strategy, focusing on facilitating ‘restricted’ Android app gambling/betting downloads, as well as delivering the industry’s best-in-class tailor-made mobile payment solution.

“In the near term, we will be working with our current partners with apps on the Betcade store. We realise our recent close call may have left our current partners with many questions and we will work hard to answer them while continuing to make a positive contribution to the gambling industry,” Chang further commented on Betcade’s return.

Pivotel invests in groundbreaking IoT deployment solutions

VIW Magazine • March 6, 2017

Leading telecommunications provider Pivotel Group, has partnered with Canada’s revolutionary LTE (4G) private network solutions company Expeto, to deliver an Australian first partnership allowing Pivotel to manage EPC core network elements in remote virtual environments.

Pivotel this month launched its remote 4G LTE solution ecoSphereTM, demonstrating its intention to build an ecosystem of leading sensor, device, modem, network technology and application providers to deliver state-of-the-art solutions enabled by remote 4G coverage in the mining, resources and agricultural sectors.

Unlike the big three Australian telecommunications companies who spend large on buying bulky centralized core network appliances located in substantial data centres, Pivotel Group has ensured its services remain competitive by partnering with Expeto to deliver its all software 4G LTE core network solution.


Pivotel Executive Director Robert Sakker said with Expeto as its core network technology partner, customers will benefit from security, agility and flexibility in its network deployments.

“As Australia’s fourth mobile network operator in Australia alongside Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, Pivotel is a nimble network innovator, enabling us to push the boundaries and deliver global best practice,” Mr Sakker said.

“There is considerable value in partnering with Expeto. Firstly, it allows us to deploy targeted industrial and IoT solutions under our ecoSphereTM brand, which can be optimized for an end customer’s requirements, and secondly, customers maintain network access control at a granular level, with security forming a significant part of our service offering.

“Instead of the legacy solutions typically found only in large telco data centres, Expeto has developed an agile way for us to flexibly deploy our core network elements under a Platform as a Service model. Instead of a large upfront capex commitment, we are able to align our cost base with our revenue on an opex basis which will help us grow our 4G LTE footprint quickly,” Mr Sakker added.

The Expeto partnership will enable Pivotel to deploy the EPC core network elements in its remote virtual environments in seconds, without the need for a black box or multi-million dollar system integration. Critical customer data is kept secure, and most of the data can be processed locally, minimising expensive transfers over remote backhaul solutions.

Expeto CEO Ryley MacKenzie, said the foray into Australia helps expand the company’s global footprint.

“IoT service and solution providers such as Pivotel, are creating extremely innovative solutions. The Expeto platform ultimately enables enterprises to deploy wireless IoT and smartphone devices with more agility and configurability than ever before – all accomplished through IT methodologies, not telco complexity. We’ve built our service and reputation around the customers’ needs,” Mr MacKenzie said.

“It’s satisfying to see our developments rolled out by Pivotel in Australia. Expeto is cheaper, faster, easier and provides more control than legacy solutions. No boxes. No capex. With Expeto, Pivotel’s customers get their own network with their devices secured behind their firewall.”

The announcement comes in the lead up to Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, held in the Barcelona, 27 February – 2 March 2017.

Firms here offered free London office

Irish Independent • March 6, 2017

Irish businesses looking to expand to Britain are being offered free office space in the heart of London with the launch of telecoms company Magnet Networks’ BrEntry initiative.

Launchpad For London will see 10 Irish companies establish themselves rent-free in London’s new smart city at Wembley Park.


CEO of Magnet Networks Mark Kellett and Louise McKeown
launch the BrEntry initiative. Picture: Conor McCabe

“With Brexit dominating the news, it is easy to forget that Britain is our largest trading partner and offers better access to funders, a better attitude to risk and a massive market for many Irish firms,” Magnet Networks chief executive Mark Kellett said.

“The 10 Irish companies who base themselves at Magnet’s headquarters at York House in the smart city will pay no rent for four months…they will have the fastest connection available, direct fibre optic connections from Ireland to their London desks and access to one of the largest internet of things and smart city test beds in the world,” he added, inviting interested companies to apply.

Enterprise Ireland’s regional director for the UK and northern Europe, Marina Donohoe, praised the initiative for focusing on the importance of having a UK presence in a post-Brexit Europe. She said the UK would continue to be the largest export market for Enterprise Ireland client companies for the foreseeable future.

Off the canvas, Betcade is primed for action again

Online Casino Reports • March 2, 2017

Android gaming and payment solutions provider Betcade is back, and fast.

Betcade’s Back, Alright

The solutions provider was working on an Android gambling store last January when it closed. Now they are back, with a new backer.

Mobile First’s Time

After closing to some confusion, a new deal enables Betcade to continue to pursue a better mobile user experience for the gambling industry with the expectation that the iGaming sector could formally adopt a “mobile-first” focus by the end of 2017.

Making a Mark

In its first 18-month go-round of start-up, Betcade established itself as the first provider of real money gambling products on Google’s Android mobile platform. The company further gained approval from the UK Financial Conduct Authority in October 2016 to launch Betcade Pay in December as iGaming’s first general purpose payment method, so the brand had certainly established a niche.

New Owner

Now, mere weeks the fold, the Android-focused mobile gambling app re-launches after being acquired by Vancouver private equity firm Columbia Ventures.


The first step back is bringing the customer acquisition business back online. The first round of outreach consists of alerts from Chang and his team to current and former partners of new users to prepare for the imminent arrival of new users.

Betcade Leader Reacts

Betcade founder and CEO and David Chang had this to say of the move:
“In the near term, we will be working with our current partners with apps on the Betcade store. We realise our recent close call may have left our current partners with many questions and we will work hard to answer them while continuing to make a positive contribution to the gambling industry,”

Trial by Fire

Of the company’s comeback, Chang acknowledged that “Every start-up has a near-death experience and in those trying times you really learn a lot about the company and those that you work with. Throughout the process we have done our utmost to treat all stakeholders with respect and sincerity.”


With specialised Android mobile technology and the first tailor-made iGaming payment solution, the value remains. Hopefully, the capital investment of Columbia is all that was necessary to bring these innovations to market in sustainable fashion: iGaming certainly appears ready.