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'Open source' business idea

  • 12-04-2005 12:54pm
    #1
    Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 468 ✭✭ trap4


    I was intrigued to come across this Creative Commons licensed business idea yesterday for a concept called...
    Office Express, and it was initially developed to be a "drop-in" business centre for smaller hotels and serviced apartments. The concept evolved to become a network of "business clubs" - probably best described as a combination Starbucks and Kinko's

    I was of course sceptical but on reviewing the PDF I have to say I'm impressed. Can the 'free agents' among the members comment on whether they would avail of an Irish 'Office Express'. Are there comparable businesses already in operation?


    ~~~~~~~~~
    €irePreneur
    http://eirepreneur.blogs.com


Comments

  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 24,924 Mod ✭✭✭✭ BuffyBot


    I have to admit, I've not come across one before!


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,072 ✭✭✭ antoinolachtnai


    I think it might be a goer. What part of the city do you 'hang out' in when you're in town?


  • Subscribers Posts: 3,666 ✭✭✭ TCP/IP


    this is a great idea i would use it


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 16,659 ✭✭✭✭ dahamsta


    I'd go for it, it'd save me getting an office I really don't want or need. However I get the feeling it might be hard to drum up trade without either a) overspending on advertising or b) pissing people off with other forms of marketing.

    If anyone wants to try something like this in Cork though, I'd be happy to implement the technology side of things! :)

    adam


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭ Nuttzz


    nice idea, but with the price of office space in the city or surburbs for that matter I think it would be expensive in Dublin anyway


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  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 16,659 ✭✭✭✭ dahamsta


    Read the actual proposal Nuttzz.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,531 jrey1981


    I could use a place like this, but bear in mind that many such people
    a) will have a mobile - and possibly a PDA / laptop
    b) will use internet cafés

    The extra services would give it a bit of a USP and I like the networking/community idea of it. I'd definitely look at using one if there was one nearby or one handy on the southside when I'm in Dublin


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 647 ✭✭✭ fintan


    Just read the plan, it would all depend on location.

    Its a great idea though, i would definitely use it


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭ Nuttzz


    dahamsta wrote:
    Read the actual proposal Nuttzz.

    I did......

    Someone would have to invest in a building to open a centre like this, No?

    Casual discussion areas, personal lockers, meeting rooms, permanent cubicles, reserved parking space, all this requires space and lots of it so to go back to my original point
    nice idea, but with the price of office space in the city or surburbs for that matter I think it would be expensive in Dublin anyway

    /edit Just of out interest, what would interested people here pay for such a service as an ordinary member (as defined in the proposal)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 647 ✭✭✭ fintan


    Actually now that I think of it, this would be ideal for every local / school / uni library in the country. Location, premises etc etc


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,290 ✭✭✭ damien


    I think this is a really good idea. Definitely like the fact that the space would be in the suburbs. With the availability of broadband increasing and the price of it slowly coming down I don't think net access will be the main seller.

    Something which wasn't mentioned but could be handy is a virtual receptionist type service where you have your business number answered by the centre who'll field all your calls and take messages. Not sure exactly how this works but a friend of mine uses a service like this for his small business.

    I'm sure you could wrangle some Govt. funding for this or from some City enterprise board as it would be of immense benefit to small companies just starting off.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 16,659 ✭✭✭✭ dahamsta


    Nuttzz, the plan specifically mentions using an ordinary residential or retail premises to cut costs. Now I don't believe that using a residential premises will work in Ireland, but that's besides the point.

    jrey1981, the plan specifically says that it would be an alternative to Internet café. Mobiles, PDAs and laptops are all mentioned.

    adam


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,410 ✭✭✭ Merrion


    Using a residential address for this sort of business would be a bit of a legal minefield. Your own house insurance would not cover the business side, you would be subject to busness rates and taxes etc.

    There are virtual office companies in London with receptionist, mailing address etc.

    However the universities in Dublin already provide really cheap "offices" to startup companies with internet/printer/desk space/LAN expertise and access to business mentors; as does the "digital hub" project in the city centre. These would probably suit _my_ needs better.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭ Nuttzz


    dahamsta wrote:
    Nuttzz, the plan specifically mentions using an ordinary residential or retail premises to cut costs. Now I don't believe that using a residential premises will work in Ireland, but that's besides the point.


    There are acres of empty office space in parkwest & liffey valley in Dublin, I pass them daily. I think this idea would work perfectly there however they are looking for something in the region €229 per sq meter p/a, these have been empty for up to 5 years and never been used and they still looking for that money.

    http://www.hok.ie/commercial/offices.aspx

    Retail in Parkwest (half empty also) is €120,000 for 251 sq meters p/a
    http://www.douglasnewmangood.com/html/retail/

    It is a nice idea, and I like other here would use such a service but with the costs of premsies here I just couldnt see it working at the prices these landlords are looking for.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,072 ✭✭✭ antoinolachtnai


    Well, there are acres of serviced office and virtual office companies in Dublin and some in Cork too (Lapps Quay, Penrose Wharf, on a quick search). There's Regus which is really the big daddy of them all, but Prem also have a lot of centres. There's also places like mailboxes etc.

    The reason office space in out-of-town parks is so high is that if the landlord were to drop the prices, it would undermine the rental value of the already-let space. In practice if you were going to let one, you'd get quite likely get a rent-free period, or a contribution to fit-out.

    I don't think the idea would work in an office park, unless it was already very busy (in which case it wouldn't be half-empty). It would work well in a city area, where there are a lot of businesses and consequently a lot of contractors and consultants milling about.

    You'd be paying to be able to use a facility with a clubby atmosphere, comfortable with lots of space for casual or more formal meetings.

    The cost psf wouldn't necessarily be that high, if you used the upper storeys of an old building.

    The closest thing to what I am talking about in Dublin is probably what Hugh O'Regan is going to put into the HUSC on St Stephen's Green.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 751 SeanPuddin


    Sounds good to me!


  • Registered Users Posts: 358 ✭✭ Philbert


    damien.m wrote:
    Something which wasn't mentioned but could be handy is a virtual receptionist type service where you have your business number answered by the centre who'll field all your calls and take messages. Not sure exactly how this works but a friend of mine uses a service like this for his small business.
    Damien,

    Would you have anymore information on this?

    Cheers if you can..


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 16,659 ✭✭✭✭ dahamsta


    Penrose Wharf in Cork offers a "virtual office" type service which includes call fielding as far as I'm aware. Google will probably turn it up pretty quickly, I think the basic service is ~€165/month.

    EDIT: It's not that easy to find actually, so here's a link. No prices, so I could be wrong. If I am, please update the thread.

    adam


  • Registered Users Posts: 358 ✭✭ Philbert


    dahamsta wrote:
    Penrose Wharf in Cork offers a "virtual office" type service which includes call fielding as far as I'm aware. Google will probably turn it up pretty quickly, I think the basic service is ~€165/month.

    EDIT: It's not that easy to find actually, so here's a link. No prices, so I could be wrong. If I am, please update the thread.

    adam

    Thanks adam,

    Heres another one....but again - no prices :rolleyes:


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 16,659 ✭✭✭✭ dahamsta


    Go in from the front page. €213.75 in Ballsbridge, €232.75 in Harcourt Centre.

    adam


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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,072 ✭✭✭ antoinolachtnai


    Wow, these guys are all pricey enough. Surely someone could provide these services on a 'per-call-answered' basis? True, Adam and I would have to cut back on giving out the office number to girls in clubs, but even if you were paying 2 or 3 euros per call, it would work out better. (You'd only use it for business development and give out your 'real' number to customers.)

    A company I worked for used to deal with Regus in Singapore. Basically they'd charge you seven dollars (about 4 euros at the time) to do anything, even something like bringing a visitor in to you or unlocking a door. 3 dollars for anything from the fridge too, although the coffee was for free. There was a big supplement to keep the air conditioning operating after 6pm. It was very funny when people realised the cost of things.

    Realistically, to make something like this work, you'd need to be charging people a tenner an hour or more to use the facility on a casual basis, to cover the rent, fitout, overheads and so on, if it was in a city centre location. It depends how tightly you pack people in, and how much scale you could attract, I suppose.

    It'd be fine for the odd sit-down or meeting, but you wouldn't want to be spending too much time in there at those rates!


  • Registered Users Posts: 358 ✭✭ Philbert


    Wow, these guys are all pricey enough.
    Agreed.

    Still its funny how many small Irish companies are actually using these services...

    Example: Ballsbridge & Harcourt Centre


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,290 ✭✭✭ damien


    Philbert wrote:
    Damien,

    Would you have anymore information on this?

    Cheers if you can..

    Philbert, apologies, I should have mentioned that he's in Glasgow. Doubt that's of help. :(


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,072 ✭✭✭ antoinolachtnai


    Well, it is expensive, but on the other hand, the facility is very professional, and it can suit very well if you need a fancy office. You aren't bound for a long period of time or anything. It's not much good for a small business.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 16,659 ✭✭✭✭ dahamsta


    I'd think Regus and (to a certain degree) Penrose Wharf would be precisely what this chap is talking about alternatives for. The costing are way out of date but I think locally you'd be looking at something like 75-125/month for basic membership, 300-400/month for something with frills (I've lowered the premium from his recommended FX'd estimate).

    I think something like this could work if people pick their premises carefully, handle their marketing carefully, and realise that big profits aren't possible unless you think very long term, and possibly in terms of franchises. (Even if someone were to go the franchise route, they'd need to avoid getting greedy or the whole thing would fall apart.) Even on one outlet I think a reasonable profit could be made, assuming the first two points above.

    If someone here wants to proceed, they're going to need to cost it out for places like Cork and Dublin, and I'd say the costings would need to be based on some kind of retail/commercial outlet, because I can't see it working in a residential area, as I said.

    adam


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3 virtual_old


    For those who like to work this way then a Virtual Assistant is the perfect answer for getting the admin and secretarial work done.A new Association has been formed by myself to promote the industry within the country. See www.avaireland.com for more details or email me at [email protected] for more info. This will save every business a lot of money and also avoids all employment legislation as VA's are self-employed. Rates usually run from 15 to 25 Euro per hour. Details and VA directory on the website.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,072 ✭✭✭ antoinolachtnai


    I don't think you'd make much of a profit at all. Certainly not enough to give you a respectable return (say 15 or 20 percent). Franchising it would not help. If it isn't a business with big gross margins, it won't be viable.

    The obvious thing might be to open a secretarial offices service with a few meeting rooms in a compact premises very near to a Starbucks. Hey, if you were within wi-fi range, you could really do some business ...


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3 virtual_old


    Not sure if you are referring to my last post about Virtual Assistant but in any case...Virtual Assistants stand to make a lot of profit as most work from their own home and the only big outlay is equipment and software which is really only an occasional if not a once-off expense. After PAYE and NI they stand to make a reasonable income - certainly on a par with in-house employees,which is all one can expect really.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,754 ✭✭✭ vector


    I'm inclined to think that this gentlemans club/airport lounge is not a valid business in itself, but would make a nice extnesion to an existing internet cafe, maybe on an upper floor.


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  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Music Moderators Posts: 12,762 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Zascar


    I think that is a great idea and I'd say its a given that these type of setups will be all over the place in 5-10 years time. I'd love to be involved in setting somehting like this up, and I'd defintely use it if there was one in dublin


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