Michael Bleby, AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW
Coworking space Gravity has tripled its Sydney footprint after two years, buoyed by the rising demand from experienced entrepreneurs for premium quality flexible space.
In a sign that coworking is evolving into distinct niches, Gravity Coworking has signed a five-year lease for two additional floors of the Brookfield Australia-owned 50 Carrington Street building it occupies, adding levels 12 and 13 to its existing presence on level 3.
The move will triple its working space from 950 square metres to 2850 square metres, with the capacity to triple the Sydney membership from the current 110 people. It is a level of growth that has forced the business Jacqui Esdaile founded in 2013 to drop the “boutique” label and call itself a “premium” offering as it targets third- and fourth-time entrepreneurs with a track record and some financial backing who are prepared to pay for more expensive facilities and services such as a receptionist.
“The appetite for coworking is getting bigger and bigger,” Ms Esdaile said. “The model stays as a coworking model but we have started to build in semi-private spaces for businesses who do want a more traditional private space.”
Gravity, which formally opened its first office in Melbourne on Monday, a 920-square-metre space on level 13 of 114 William Street, also has first right of refusal on any two other floors that become available in the same building. Gravity Melbourne had 27 of the 110 memberships it had capacity for and it would probably reach capacity by June, Ms Esdaile said.
She is focusing on Sydney and Melbourne because the smaller start-up community in Brisbane, where Gravity opened on level 6 of 140 Creek Street in April 2015, was less willing to pay premium prices and the Gravity operation was still only at 75 per cent of capacity.
“We’ve had to rethink our price point in Brisbane,” Ms Esdaile said.
Gravity’s membership model, under which companies pay a per-month rate for each employee using the space, averages revenue for $750 a member each month nationally. Individually, the figures were closer to $600 in Brisbane, $850 in Sydney and $800 in Melbourne, she said.
When the expanded Sydney premises open at the end of June, members will pay $1000 a month for a seat on level 13 and $900 on levels three and 12.
There was a niche group of small businesses willing to pay for it, she said.
“They are happy to pay the price for something that is a bit different, like the top floor of a building,” she said.