cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Pioneer of the Week: Hector Kolonas of Included.co

Thought Leader

Pioneer of the Week: Hector Kolonas of Included.co

Name             Hector Kolonas

From              London

Business        Included.co – a business using its network to unlock savings and opportunities in co-working spaces.

 

Tell us 3 important things we should know about you.

  • Photo 1.jpgWhen I first learnt to write, I started a tasty sweets-for-mothers-day-cards enterprise at my brothers’ nursery.
  • I taught myself to code by pretending I knew what I was talking about on an online forum, running off to figure out how to solve it, then returning to post the solution.
  • My first business was an online magazine, which allowed me to pursue my passion for tech.

 

Tell us about your business. How did it start? Did you set it up alone or with a team?

Before setting up included.co I had a couple of other businesses. I made tons of mistakes with these. A lot of the time, this was because I couldn’t get the right information quickly. So I promised myself I would learn and earn as much as I could first, to reach my goal of travelling the world to help entrepreneurs in young tech ecosystems grow their companies faster.

 

Later in life I visited my home country Cyprus, and I realised that many of my clients’ clients were economically wiped out. However they were still tied to 4-10 year tenancy agreements for huge offices. It didn’t take long for me to see that through supporting shared workspaces I could expand my plan to help hundreds of thousands of businesses a year. That’s when I set up included.co.

 

What do you love most about running your own business?

A lot of people associate running a business with freedom, but many confuse this as freedom from ‘the 9-5 life’. The truth is that entrepreneurship is much harder, longer and more stressful than almost any other job.

 

What I love about running my own business is a whole different kind of freedom - the freedom to choose the problem I want to help solve.

 

Tell us about a challenging experience you’ve faced in the process of starting up your business and how you overcame it.

Building any kind of online marketplace faces the chicken-and-egg conundrum. This usually revolves around getting enough buyers to make it worthwhile for your sellers to invest time into your platform; whilst also making sure there are enough sellers in one place so as to get your buyers excited about using your platform.

 

To overcome this I partnered up with the best co-working spaces around the world; bringing together thousands of businesses who needed to buy the same services over a set period of time. Together we then leveraged this buying-power to work with hundreds of superb solution providers so we could offer great prices for our members.

 

What advice could you give to other startups about starting up in your industry?

 Co-working spaces and startups are made up of amazing people who are building great things and have real needs. If you focus on creating value for these people as individuals, you can’t go wrong.

 

Can you share an experience that really helped you take your business forward?

The experience that helped me the most was taking the time to talk to our early customers. As cheesy as it sounds, hearing from other business owners that you’re actually saving them time and money gives you such a momentum boost.

 

I cannot thank the early desk-renters and co-working space operators enough for their patience and feedback as we built out our solution and implementation.

 

Many people start their businesses at home, where do you work? What do you love about it?

Office space.jpgStarting a business at home is great as it gives you the flexibility to save cash and focus on development. As included.co was built upon a partnership-network of co-working spaces, I found myself jumping across some amazing shared workspaces; like a kind of urban-nomad. Over time I’ve found several reasons that make shared workspaces insanely valuable for growing businesses, and you can see a summary in my previous blog post for Virgin Pioneers here, or my animated talk at Google Campus here.

 

Right now we’re trying something new, and so I can mostly be found at Bathtub 2 Boardoom’s City Tub, as a partner-in-residence. Like many of our partner workspaces, it’s a great space with a diverse community of people getting things done.

 

What are three things you know now, that you wish someone had told you when you first started?

  • Co-working spaces offer so much more than affordable desk space, free coffee and Wi-Fi.
  • Small businesses are continuously buying-into unfair deals or prices.
  • You don’t always have to be ‘winning’. It’s very unhealthy to keep wearing that mask.

 

Is there anything specific you’d like to ask or share with the Virgin Media Pioneers community?

I’d love to ask the Virgin Media Pioneer community to think about the necessary costs for their business each month and how much of that is unique to their business – then share that with me! Getting an insight into what businesses need helps me make included.co suit more and more people.

 

Finish the sentence: To be an entrepreneur you need to be resourceful, not only with your cash-flow but with your time. Revenue can be regenerated and accelerated whereas time cannot.

 

If you want to connect with Hector, follow him on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments below!

Comments
Inventor

Thanks for sharing my story (so far). I'd be more than happy to answer any questions from Pioneers here in the comments. Smiley Happy Have an amazing week everybody!