What are the main trends in Mexico when it comes to co-working spaces, and how do you predict demand in this space to change in the coming years?
Coworking spaces have been the subject of some hype over recent years, but this is not a new business. I have been in this business for over 20 years, and this industry has been around for almost 40. The concept started in San Francisco, and it has been evolving and changing ever since. There are many new things going on, new companies, and many new styles, but at the end of the day people need to work. Part of the time, they need to concentrate and focus on whatever they are doing, and at other times, they can be productive if they work in open spaces where they interact with other people and get new ideas or fresh perspectives. IOS OFFICES is sticking to its core in delivering to our clients the different scenarios we all experience in a normal business day. We do many other things too. For example, we have a bar with free coffee and alcohol; it is only for members. If you need a distraction, you can stop working for a while without leaving your workplace. We try to change the ambiance, for example, by offering dining rooms. We also organize over 3,000 different events every year. Our main event is the annual IOS Network Summit that takes place mid-year, where we invite business leaders to share their story of success. We gather around 1,500 of our community members in Mexico City for a full day of networking.
How would you evaluate the overall performance of IOS OFFICES in 2019, and how did it compare to 2018?
IOS OFFICES had one of its best years in 2019 in a number of ways. We had record-high occupancy levels and our net promoter score was around 95%, which means our clients are happy. I co-founded IOS OFFICES in 2007 with my brother Adrián. It has been a long road, but we are finally growing at a steady pace. The market recognizes us as the leader in Mexico for co-working spaces. Our footprint is the largest in the country, with presence in 12 cities and 36 locations. Our clients are entrepreneurs, professionals, and large companies looking for a solution where they can work and be productive and happy at the same time. In 2020, we are adding a center in Culiacán, León, and Guadalajara and a few more in Mexico City, along with some others under negotiation.
What strategies do you use to identify the next locations for your centers?
We look for integral business hubs or mixed-use spaces where our clients can experience an extraordinary environment every day at work. For example, at our location in Miyana, there are movie theaters, restaurants, three apartment buildings, and one office building. We are in the heart of Polanco, surrounded by hotels. We have established our brand in such a way that building owners and developers look for us. IOS OFFICES evaluates over 200 proposals each year, and we pick the best ones. We are mainly in spaces that are leased, but we do own some real estate. It depends on the city.
What are your main goals for 2020?
We are a goal-oriented kind of company. When we established IOS OFFICES, we set out an ambitious business plan along with short-term goals. In general, we follow a combination of long and short-term goals. As we accomplish a goal, another long-term goal becomes our short-term focus, so you could say we have a chain of goals. For 2020, we are opening more centers in a few more cities. One short-term goal is to open IOS outside of Mexico. We are always working on our company culture and product concept. In early 2020, we will open in León and Culiacán and perhaps in one more location outside of Mexico. Yes, we are going global.