How Chile Does Coworking
In Chile, coworking is going strong.
The first company to open a space in the Latin American country was Urban Station, setting up shop back in 2010. Based in Santiago, Chile’s capital, Urban Station set the pace for what would become of the nation’s coworking industry in the years ahead.
The company’s first move was to partner with a company called CORFO, which is known for supporting entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives in Chile. Together, they formed a program called StartUp Chile, while helped early-stage startups get off the ground. This move earned them plenty of clients—some long-term—who needed a flexible, inexpensive workspace.
But Urban Station did not limit its scope to startups. In this interview with the company’s director of operations, Francisco Badia, we see that Urban Station has since set its sights on established corporate clients. Their newest location is called Manuel Montt, and it’s based in a different neighborhood than the original Urban Station, aiming for well-established companies.
In Badia’s words, Urban Station wants to position itself as the leader of what they like to call the “Collaborative Work Revolution”. For them, collaborative working isn’t just for startups or entrepreneurs; larger companies will demand space in the coming years as well.
However, it is worth noting that Urban Station does not maintain full control of all of their branches. Some of their locations are franchised, and the experience at each of them may be slightly different. At the same time, that can be a selling point: Badia states that the companies wants each of the locations to “portray and adopt a feeling that is consistent with that of the borough and its surrounding communities.” With franchising, it’s easier for each of the locations to develop its own unique charms and cater to a different audience.
But there’s no denying that franchising can lead to quality control issues. Urban Station is huge, for better or worse: they have locations all across Latin America, and they have their sights set on North America. It will be interesting to see if they can establish spaces that cater to vastly different local communities without suffering from a drop in quality. For now, they have a comfortable place in Chile’s coworking scene, and there’s still much potential for growth.