Comunal Coworking is the first of my series on coworking spaces. It lies in the Barranco District of Lima, which is the hip part of town according to my sources.
I spent three days working from Comunal as I prepared for the Lean Startup workshop I gave there. Overall, I'll say that I enjoyed my time there. It's a bright, fun, and energetic space, and everyone I met there seemed like great people.
Ernesto, one of the three founders of Comunal, told me that the coworking space was born when the three of them realized that there wasn't a single coworking space available in Lima. At some point they visited some of the more famous coworking spaces in the United States to get an idea of how they could craft their own in Lima. They launched about the same time the other big coworking space in Lima launched, Stars Camp. I'll be writing about Stars Camp in another post.
Let's take a look at the individual components of Comunal.
I must say I was quite impressed by Comunal. It feels cool, modern, and unique. There's a clean yellow, black and white aesthetic in the interior design and in the logo. When you walk in you see the reception desk and a small meeting room.
To the right, there's two stories of "flex space". More on that below.
There are typically two membership plans in a coworking space, from what I understand. You can pay a higher monthly sum to have your own desk (about $320 at Comunal), where you can leave your things and you know you can always come work any day and that desk will be yours. Or, you can pay a lower amount to use the flex space, where you don't have a set desk and you just grab a space that's open. These plans are more flexible too in that you can buy a part time membership, say, 20 hours a week, which saves money if you know you're not going to be there all the time. In Comunal's case, they offer 15 hours of flex space per week for $60. I imagine flex plans are good for the coworking spaces as well because they can capture a wider variety of customers.
I like how there are a lot of nooks and crannies in Comunal's flex space, along with a couple big desks.
Here you can see that they're in the process of remodeling the upstairs part of the flex space.
From the front door, if you proceed straight back you'll run into, in order, 1) stairs to more office space, with tenants that pay to have their own desks:
2) the community kitchen. Comunal provides soda, coffee, and beer as part of the membership package.
and 3) the community living room and outdoor patio.
I gave my workshop in this living area. I love this space, even if it wasn't the most practical arrangement for what I was doing. It's hard to get up and squeeze past everyone else, and not the best for breakout sessions and taking notes. The advantage is that about 18 people can fit in the stadium style seating. And who doesn't like bean bags?
The "rules" painted on the wall are worth translating:
In Comunal it is prohibited to:
That takes care of the main part of the coworking space.
Comunal is even bigger than this, though. They have several of the top floors in the same building that they rent out to larger groups. For example, there's an entire office for about 20 people rented out to a marketing firm that's doing consulting work for Coca-Cola in Peru.
I get the feeling that Comunal doesn't host a lot of events, because the staff member I worked with to organize my workshop told me that they were only just beginning to make regular programming a priority. At least my event was timely if nothing else!
And what of the people of Comunal? Here is where I wish I could have spent more time meeting tenants and learning about them and their business. Still, from the people I did meet, there was quite a variety, all very friendly.
This kind of variety is one of the cool parts of a coworking space: you find people from all over the world, in all kinds of fields.
Next time I visit a coworking space, I want to really achieve a greater knowledge of how the tenants and founders use and view the space. Still, I'm very happy about my time at Comunal. From what I've seen, the community lives up to the happy-go-lucky rules they've codified on their walls. Everyone I saw working there was enjoying themselves, and didn't hesitate to say hi and smile. Successfully capturing the essence of coworking is paying off: they're at 90% occupancy (in the absence of other data I'll assume that's very good for a coworking space) and are looking at creating branches all across Lima.
It's hard to draw too many conclusions, as this is one of the first coworking spaces I've ever been in. But for what it's worth, I'd happily return to Comunal and work there!
Stay tuned for an article on the other major coworking space in Lima, Stars Camp!
Dillon Dakota Carroll
...sees much and knows much