The GCUC UK agenda is filling out nicely. We’ll have discussions about workplace wellness, tech, the UK workspace industry, the global coworking movement, financing options, AI and the future of work, the blurring line between hospitality and coworking, and much more.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Shazia Mustafa, who runs Third Door, a coworking space in London with a full nursery. Mustafa will be a speaker on the GCUC UK panel about niche workspaces and how to stand out in a crowded market. Here are the highlights of our conversation.
Bernie Mitchell: How did you get the idea to open a coworking space?
Shazia Mustafa: I got the idea for Third Door about ten years ago when my daughter was five months old. Third Door was one of the first coworking spaces to open in the area, as it was still a relatively new idea at that time.
I realised that having the childcare element as a part of the coworking space was imperative, not only to the success of my business but the success of the people who work there as well.
What are you looking for from GCUC UK?
Although I try to stay up-to-date on the coworking world, owning my own business means I haven’t had to network as much as some people, which is something that I want to change. That is why I decided to decided to attend GCUC,
Will GCUC be your first coworking conference?
GCUC London will not be my first conference. I actually attended the Coworking Europe conference in Barcelona a few years ago and loved the opportunity to connect with others in the coworking space and see what the innovations were.
Networking and staying up-to-date on the coworking world has been at the top of my list of priorities because Third Door will soon be opening second and third locations. Attending GCUC will help with that.
Do you know where the next Third Door locations will be?
Both of the locations will be in London, although I’m also looking at other places. Even though Third Door has been in operation for about ten years, I still remember the struggles I faced opening a coworking space when it was still a relatively new idea.
I feel confident that Third Door is doing everything correctly with the childcare aspect. With coworking spaces becoming so popular over the past few years more people are looking for the entire package that Third Door offers: a space to work and the ability to have your children looked after.
What would you have liked to have known when you opened that you’ve learned on the way?
If I knew then what I know now, I would have better explained the benefits of having a coworking space with flexible childcare. Back when Third Door first opened, some parents simply used it as a place to drop off their children and few people knew what coworking was since it was still so new.
What is it that gives you a competitive edge? Is it the fact that you’ve been around so long or is it because you’ve accidentally become a childcare expert?
Well it’s two businesses in one. The childcare side is difficult, and then you’re dealing with the customer base. You’re not just dealing with people who want an office, you’re also dealing with all the anxiety that parents have of leaving their children with someone. You need to build that trust. It’s probably a combination now of us being around for a long time and learning exactly what people need and understanding the childcare side of it.
Does everyone who is a coworking member have a child that uses your daycare or do people come there to cowork only?
At the beginning of this year we had a pretty good mixture of about 50/50. Not everyone who uses the childcare space uses the coworking space, so we have the room for people who don’t have children to have working space. We really want to make sure that everyone is really family-friendly. Right now we have one person who doesn’t have a child in our daycare.
What are you looking to find out about coworking at GCUC? Is it software or community or business models?
I think I’m just quite keen to find out what everybody else is doing and see if we can have some collaborations as we start to open new spaces.
GCUC UK takes place 25-26 September in King’s Cross, London.