Startup of the month: Workzilla

Photo: Lars Brusletto

Lars Brusletto (26), Engineering and ICT (Master of Science programme) at NTNU and NTNU School of Entrepreneurship.

–  What is the idea behind your startup?
 Workzilla is a service that makes it easy to find cafes that can be used as a productive work spot. We have made agreements with cafes, bars or restaurants so you can buy a day pass to these places on our webpage. The day pass will for instance ensure you wifi access and a power outlet for a whole day. Then you won’t need to worry about overstaying your welcome without buying something, Lars explains.

It is all about designing a new service that the cafes and bars can provide to meet the demand from a growing customer group. The technology development has enabled a lot of people to perform jobs that only require a computer. People can live anywhere they want and still perform their work, but they are in need of a working station.

–  The global need for flexible working stations is evident through the growth of coworking spaces, shared environments where people can buy a membership and get a desk to work at. However, if one only needs a day pass, these arrangements can be expensive. Many like to work in the atmosphere of a bar or a cafe, but this is not necessarily appreciated by the staff, Lars says.

The term “cafe hobos” refers to computer working people that occupy a table for a whole day without buying much. This has lead cafes to take actions such as removing free wifi access, which in turns makes it difficult and time consuming for people to find a decent working spot.

–  Where did you get the idea from?
–  I was in India working with another startup idea and found it difficult to find places to work. The coworking spaces were really expensive or I could waste a lot of time travelling to cafes, only to find out that their wifi was down.

The idea was generated after experiencing a problem over time. During his travels, Lars started to pay attention to the cafes. Not only did he observe all the people working there, many cafes and bars also had a lot of free capacity for long periods of time during the day.

–  I figured that the problems of feeling unwanted as a worker at a cafe and the empty capacity could be solved by the same solution. The cafes can achieve the perception of a busy venue by allowing workers to pay for a productive working spot and a nice experience. I am simply introducing a new source of income for the cafes.  

–  How has the process been up until where you are today?
–  So far, I have done everything myself. One simply figure things out along the way. I have taken courses online about service design, read and listened to podcasts, travelled a lot and talked with cafe owners to map their needs. Also I have made sure that feeling unwelcome at cafes while working isn’t only a norwegian phenomena.

He acknowledges the NTNU School of Entrepreneurship that he attends to as valuable. It provides him a social and professional entrepreneurial milieu. Since May, Lars has been developing an app and a webpage that will provide the booking platform.

–  I want to launch a pilot project in Trondheim soon, including agreements with some chosen cafes, restaurants and bars. The launch has been delayed since I have had to do the marketing part myself, posting pictures on Instagram and articles on Medium to show the possibilities of working at cafes, restaurants and bars.

–  Why should students start their own startup or be a part of one?
–  We live in a time where everything changes so fast. After you have graduated, the jobs you thought would be there when you started your education might not be there anymore. The ability of creating your own job can become really valuable, he says.

In a startup, you are in charge and can choose to work with the newest technology. Lars considers this and the diverse learning outcome as beneficial factors for joining a startup. Personally, he finds the idea of changing people’s daily lives by a new product or service really inspirational.

–  Being in a startup can be compared to traveling to a country you don’t know much about. Maybe you will be pleasantly surprised, maybe not. You can go to Gran Canaria and experience the same as everyone else, but you are more likely to experience an adventure if you do something new.    

Workzilla wants to make it possible to book workstations at cafes.

 

Want to try out Workzilla’s booking platform for cafes, restaurants and bars? Check out this webpage.

Medium is a platform where people can share insightful words about topics that matters. You can check out Workzilla on Medium here.