Welcome to the twentieth edition of “Startup of the Week” which features many great startups and interviews with successful business heads. This week, I interviewed Emmanuel Guisset, the founder and CEO at Outsite, a new concept of coworking/co-living for like-minded professionals who want to stay and work in beautiful locations.
I’ve asked Emmanuel a series of questions about Outsite and tips for budding entrepreneurs. Have a read at what he had to say.
How did the idea of Outsite come about?
A few years ago, I was just another mid-twenties guy building my career in Silicon Valley. The Belgium travel tech company I was working for wanted to build out their US branch in California. Dreaming of surf and sand, I eagerly prepped my passport for a new life. But there was one problem… their office was in San Jose! A place that didn’t exactly fit the beach lifestyle I was seeking.
On a weekend road trip I stumbled upon Santa Cruz, and that was the moment that I fell in love with California. Here was this incredible coastal town where you could surf, mountain bike and hike, and where the nightlife was actually decent. I packed my bags and set up a remote office where I could work between meetings and conferences. For the first time, I understood how you could find a balance between your passion and work. I was inspired, happy and more productive than ever. It was an important “aha” moment.
I was traveling a lot during those years, living out of suitcases and conference hotel chains. My career was taking off and I lived in a beautiful place, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of professional isolation both on the road and in my adopted home. Santa Cruz is an amazing place for the outdoor lifestyle, but I struggled to meet like-minded professionals like myself. And they weren’t hanging out at those conference hotels either.
Like many before me, I thought I had to give up the beach to build my career. So I moved to San Francisco and got involved in a few start-up side projects. That’s when I began working from co-working spaces for the first time, and really liked the networking and collaborative spirit it created. That was my second “aha” moment.
I would return to Santa Cruz to surf every once in a while, but I had to stay in uncomfortable motels or Airbnb’s far from the ocean. Not to mention, the internet was anything but dependable. It was on one of these surf trips that the idea of Outsite first came to me.
Simply, what does your business do?
Outsite offers a place to stay with creative co-working spaces in amazing locations. We mainly host entrepreneurs, freelancers and teams who want to combine work and play.
Did you have a business plan?
I just beta-tested the concept on Airbnb and quickly found that demand was not going to be a problem. I set out to look for a large villa to rent in Santa Cruz. I had 3 criteria:
- Less than 5 minutes to a decent surf spot
- An upscale villa and large comfortable rooms
- Ability to convert a section of the property into a big workspace
Shortly after, I found the dream house and the adventure began. Since launching Outsite Santa Cruz, we have added 2 more locations to the Outsite collection including Outsite San Diego and Outsite Lake Tahoe. My plan was to have a lifestyle business, but I am now working on expanding to more locations and yes I do have a proper business plan now.
What were the challenges you faced when creating Outsite?
Regulations can be tricky in the US so I needed to make sure I was in the right zone and had right papers. Now the main problem I am facing is how to handle overflow and how to balance team retreats and individuals provided our limited inventory.
What is the difference between you and your competitors?
Well, first of all, I don’t think there is competition as I think the market still needs to grow, so the more players the better! But I am still the only one doing this type of concept in the US. There are many entrepreneur houses in the Bay Area, but you don’t want to stay there, trust me! Compared to other nomadic spaces, I would say that we provide a really good community and we have some high profile frequent guests such as the co-founder of Waze, the co-founder of Buffer and very good designers from San Francisco. California attracts a very entrepreneurial crowd so we can take advantage of that.
What were you doing before Outsite?
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Experiment a lot, do things lean, listen to your users and make quick decisions. I think people don’t value enough importance in having regular one on one with each member of their team. That’s super valuable.
In one word, describe your job?
Headquarters: Santa Cruz, California, USA
People: Emmanuel Guisset, Britt, Liz, Lindsey, Dani, Ashok and more.
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