Entrepreneur offers shared office workspace for designers, artists and freelancers

Startupsxl founder Kia Rahmani (left) said affordable shared office space is a growing global trend—desks and furnishings, kitchens, fax and phone lines are supplied—attractive to start up and small businesses. - Martin van den Hemel photo
Startupsxl founder Kia Rahmani (left) said affordable shared office space is a growing global trend—desks and furnishings, kitchens, fax and phone lines are supplied—attractive to start up and small businesses.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel photo

Richmond entrepreneur Kia Rahmani didn't waste any time from conceptualizing a business opportunity, to rolling out the finished product.

Just two months after identifying an unfulfilled market for shared office space, Rahmani recently opened the doors to startupsxl in the Alderbridge Business Park, at 1105-4871 Shell Rd.

Rahmani, 28, believes there's a market for what he's now offering: a fully-furnished shared office space for 16 people, where individuals or small groups can rent space that's separated by IKEA-style dividers and book cases, with a common lunch area and office equipment in secure surroundings.

"I think we're a little bit ahead of the curve. You will see this trend picking up more and more in 2012," said Rahmani, who holds an MBA from the Sauder School of Business at University of B.C.

"Over 98 per cent of businesses are small businesses. It's a huge number. A lot of small businesses are looking to tap into efficient ways of getting up and running. The flexibility of what co-working spaces offers is key to being efficient and lean," he said.

"It's a perfect solution," Rahmani said, as risk is mitigated by the lack of long-term contracts, and the focus can be on running their business rather than worrying about setting up utilities, internet, fax and telephone lines, and purchasing furniture and other office necessities.

Beyond the dollars and cents, individuals who had been working from an office at home might benefit from the motivation entailed in going to an office-like setting, where the promise of social interaction and collaboration can stir the creative juices.

"There's kind of a psychological aspect of being in a community. It makes you feel like you're more a part of a company. You may be able to help them, and they may be able to help you."

Without spending a penny on advertising—he did hoist a banner that looks out onto Shell Road—and relying otherwise on word of mouth, Rahmani has already rented out a private office space for $1,200 per month, and now has just 12 spots left. The cost is $250 per month per desk.

The trend of co-working started in 2009, and began gaining traction in 2010.

To keep costs as low as possible, the Richmond offices are accessible from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.,  but that may change in the future if his clients request expanded or shifted hours.

For those looking for shared office spaces around the world, there's a searchable network of global co-working spaces accessible via, of which Rahmani is a co-founder and charged with championing the concept in North America.

"In Europe, it's a big thing."

Eventually, Rahmani envisions small businesses not just sharing desks and office space, but services as well, such as legal work, marketing and consulting.

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