Adam Hyman’s purpose has always been about fostering and building communities.
Throughout every business he’s been a part of, despite how different they may seem, the common thread has always been bringing people together.
Now, as the founder of KoWorks, not only is he bringing people together by creating innovative and welcoming coworking spaces, but he’s also supporting local businesses, optimizing underutilized community spaces, and helping to transform strangers into lifelong friends.
Adam is pushing the boundaries of what a coworking space can be and what it can do for its members with a booming two-location business (with three more on the way).
Here are five key takeaways from our conversation with Adam when it comes to running a mission-driven business and supporting the community you’re in.
1. Activate underutilized community spaces
Surf Lifesaving Clubs (SLSC) in Australia are beautiful venues that are typically not being used to their full potential. They are located in regional or local communities and despite having gorgeous views, sit empty five days a week.
When Adam noticed a large number of people working in cafes during the pandemic, he came up with the idea to transform an underutilized SLSC into a vibrant, centralized hub for connection. The idea was to partner with these otherwise vacant spaces to transform them into coworking spaces in exchange for a small share of revenue.
The first KoWorks location opened under this model in November 2021 on the first floor of Killcare SLSC. It comes complete with a full kitchen, community showers, and breathtaking views of the ocean.
Now with their second location, they’ve transformed a previously overlooked warehouse into a thriving and collaborative business hub.
This unique model of transforming under utilized spaces enables Adam to support local businesses in generating revenue while situating the space close to home for those looking for a central place to work. It also serves as a unique way of growing the business.
“Our mission is quite simply to unlock under utilized community spaces, making it easier for people and businesses to connect. If we're unlocking these beautiful community hubs, not only does it make it easier for people to connect in a centralized hub, but it also fosters business growth in those local communities.”
2. Foster connections amongst members
Adam views community building as a three tiered effort. The first is bringing people together into a central space and making them feel welcome the minute they walk through the doors. This is the goal of many coworking spaces, including KoWorks.
The next step is to create connections amongst the people in the space. For example, if someone walks through the door and they’re a graphic designer, how can you connect them with a freelance marketer to foster potential business opportunities for both businesses?
And finally, the third step is to facilitate true friendships by creating events intentionally designed to foster authentic connections. This is really where KoWorks shines.
“Every Wednesday morning, we run a free event for all members called Breathworks. We partner people up, ideally with someone that they’ve never met before, then go for a walk or a run and have a conversation to start your morning,” explains Adam.
“We then meet back at our towels, do some Wim Hof breathing or guided meditation, and then get in the ocean. And at every one of those stages, there’s a point of interaction, whether it’s an icebreaker or a thought starter that leads people through the rest of their day.”
Now, people already have a point of shared connection that they can take with them. Events like these create opportunities for authentic connection and make it easy for members to build relationships with one another. With this, Adam hopes to bring about true community that extends far beyond the four walls of KoWorks.
“The minute someone walks through the door, we will build an initial connection on who they are, what they do, and what brought them to KoWorks. Immediately we'll see if we can introduce that person to someone within the community so they have one familiar face they can recognize. Now the next time they come back, they've already got someone that they know.”
3. Support the growth of local businesses
Because KoWorks is located in local communities (rather than large central business hubs), people expect it to have a personal touch and to contribute to the greater community at large.
When KoWorks comes into a community, it transforms all of the businesses around it for the better. This is intentionally designed by Adam who is committed to making every place KoWorks touches a little bit better.
For example, at their last launch event, Adam partnered with a local wine distributor to supply all of their cocktails and wine, a local muralist to paint a live mural in the space, and local DJs to bring music and life to the event.
“We had such good feedback from the launch event, any of the events that we now run are very tailored around local artists,” says Adam.
This perspective of making the communities that they enter better is something that sets KoWorks apart, and one of the things that makes it so highly desirable from a brand perspective. Not only is it great for the community, but it’s great for overall reputation and trust building, which we’ll get in to a bit later.
“The bigger vision with KoWorks is to map how we actually add to the local community in terms of GDP. So for us, we’re thinking about, do we create jobs? Do we sponsor local community organizations? Do we bring business to a local cafe? A lot of these elements hopefully give back to the community.”
4. Make every person a member
Adam considers every person who enters KoWorks to be a member, whether they’re there for one day or one year. This is part of a bigger strategy to not only bring people together, but to also cement KoWorks as the coworking space of choice.
“People will be driving from Sydney to Brisbane and they need a place on the way to stop and handle some meetings,” explains Adam. “We’ll take them in as members. Even if they never use KoWorks again, they’re still a member.”
The vision is that as KoWorks continues to expand to other parts of the country, they may be able to convert these one-off drop-ins into long-term clients. If they’re able to give every person who walks through their doors an incredible experience today, then the chances of that person purchasing a recurring membership in the future increases significantly.
It all comes back to the idea of putting people first and giving in order to receive. It’s not just good for people – it’s good for business.
“We want KoWorks to be an authentic place that can give to a community, but then also take from that community in a mutual value exchange. I think creating a sustainable version of that is really, really important.”
5. Educate and build trust in the greater community
One important element that Adam has discovered when it comes to bringing coworking to more rural communities is the importance of education and building trust.
KoWorks is often the first coworking provider to open in the locations they’re in. It is not uncommon for people to not know what coworking is or to not understand the value in paying for a desk.
Adam begins to educate the market by having conversations with people and explaining to them what KoWorks is and how it can benefit them. Their team also produces content that covers the tangible and intangible benefits of coworking. The goal is to educate as many people as they can as to how not just KoWorks, but coworking more broadly can serve them in their life.
Once there is an understanding as to what coworking is, the next step is to build trust.
“In regional communities, coworking actually often signals gentrification which can be bad in beach towns that have their own ways,” explains Adam. He overcomes this hurdle by partnering and collaborating with local businesses – like serving coffee in their space from a local boutique coffee shop or offering snacks from a local bulk snack food company.
It all comes back to the idea of making a place better than when they found it, and fostering growth within the communities they’re in. Education and building trust is the first step in a long and fruitful relationship between KoWorks and the cities they’re entering.
“For us, it’s really all about collaborating with all of the local businesses, which in turn builds trust.”
Giving back with KoWorks
Adam’s insights remind coworking owners and operators of the crucial role they play in both serving their members and contributing to their local communities.
This dual commitment not only ensures the success of coworking spaces but also enriches the neighborhoods they operate in. It emphasizes the interdependence between coworking spaces and their communities, reinforcing the importance of collective efforts for a better future.
Optix is proud to support this vision and in fostering a more inclusive and vibrant future for everyone. Learn more about how Optix supported KoWorks in growing their coworking network!