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365 Days of Awesome — A Look Back At 2015

We created Workfrom to help the millions of people who regularly work outside of a traditional office find the best places to get shit done … without having to spend precious time researching or risk unproductive hours transitioning from place to place. Since we kicked off 2015, we’ve seen incredible growth—thanks to YOU, our community.

As we kick off a new year, we wanted to share some highlights and toast to you! Read on to explore the hottest Workfrom cities, hear what cafe owners have to say about us working in their spaces and our favorite new features of 2015.

New places in new cities on six of the seven continents (sorry Antarctica)

We’ve talked before about the importance of curation over catch-all and last year, that curation helped hundreds of thousands of people around the world do better work. When Darren launched Workfrom.co as a concept in late 2013, we had 10 places in Portland, Oregon. By the start of 2015, we had over 353 published listings in 36 countries and over 100 cities. We personally reviewed every recommendation that came in, spent time tracking down photos and knew we’d have to take ourselves out of this publishing process to scale as quickly as the community wanted. Still, we didn’t want to sacrifice the quality we’d come to pride ourselves on.

And so we established a dual-verification curation process to build on the trust we’ve fostered within our community. Since places can be submitted by owners or patrons—we showcase both the “source” and “verification status” of every space. For example, if a place is recommended by the owner, we’ll let you know—and as soon as a patron verifies the space by clocking in or leaving a note we mark it as “community verified”. If a place is recommended by a patron, the owner is notified (if we can contact them) and given an opportunity to verify that they do, in fact, appreciate mobile workers in their space. Once they claim the listing, to prove that they are the owner, we mark it as “owner verified.” This dual verification process allows us to immediately share all recommendations—while giving the community an easy way to assess the reliability of what’s presented and giving us a reliable data source we use to power Workfrom.co and our API partner apps.

We’re excited to further refine and simplify this process. Much of what requires our review today is “left over” from our lean startup approach: build as little as we need to, to verify a concept, and if we get traction, invest in automation. One thing’s for certain: we trust you and are committed to letting you run as fast as you can! You’ve now scouted over 2,375 awesome places in over 78 countries on 6 continents and 650 cities world-wide—that’s an average of 5 new places a day!

workfrom-timelapsemap-sm

Here’s a shout out to the most work-friendly cities by the number of work-friendly places shared—and all the scouts who put their cities on the map! Let your friends who live in these cities know about Workfrom—and if you have a city you love that isn’t represented, let us know in the comments below and scout your favorite places!

Want to plan a Workation in 2016? Check out the Workfrom Anywhere map to find an exotic and work-friendly location right for you!

A year of events

WORKFROM WEEK DENVER

We tried a new approach to launch Workfrom Denver in June—we created and celebrated Workfrom Denver Week from afar. We focused on social media to promote remote-worker-friendly cafes and coworking spaces in Denver and surrounding areas, including Boulder. The Coterie Coworking group hosted a meetup and we awarded business owners the ability to claim and promote their listings for free.

INTERNATIONAL COWORKING WEEK + PDXCOWORK2015

In July, we organized a conference—#PDXCoworkWeek2015—in honor of International Coworking Week. Being on the ground helped us line up an incredible week of free coworking with the most active coworking spaces in town, panels with coffee shop owners, coworking space owners and a variety of local entrepreneurs, community leaders and remote workers. Other groups hosted meetups and we enjoyed several happy hours and open office hours hosted by Umpqua for folks to connect with local experts in our community. We couldn’t have pulled it off without the support of several local volunteers and sponsors (as tickets were free) and for the first time all year, we made enough money in one month to pay both of us a living wage of $1,500.

Portland Coworking Week 2015

All photos from Instagram, from left to right: @shaunanoah “Working out of Factory at the Ford building for #pdxcowork2015.” | @workfrom “We had a stellar group of local experts for #pdxcowork2015 at Umpqua Bank” | @hatchlabpdx “So many coworking spaces and incubators in one place!” | @collectiveagency “Happy hour at Collective Agency”

You can listen to what the coffee shop owners had to say about opening their cafes to mobile workers in these short videos. All in all, the week was a wild success: we sold out of tickets twice; the coworking space managers raved about how awesome it was to meet each other for the first time and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. (Get on the early-announcements list for 2016.)

We learned that trying to run a Workfrom Week from afar, ala Denver, is much more challenging and less rewarding than being on the ground. Once we saw what we could accomplish vis-a-vis Coworking Week Portland, we decided to hold off on coordinating any more Workfrom Weeks until we could share a template others can use to host Workfrom Weeks in their cities. If this sounds interesting to you, reach out to us in the comments below.

Workfrom Portland Meetups, 2015

All photos taken by Workfrom. Top Left Clockwise: Portland Startups Booster Club Party photo booth, Coworking at the Factory, POA, Coffee Division, Kopi Coffee, JoLa, Tilt, POA patio.

PORTLAND STARTUPS BOOSTER PARTY, TNW BOOST! + WORKFROM NYC

In October, we founded the Portland Startups Booster Club! and held a fundraiser for ourselves—to fund a trip to NYC to participate in The Next Web’s Boost! Conference. The conference was an opportunity to pitch in front of investors and connect with several other startups from around the world. Not realizing how exhausted we’d be after such an event, we also organized Workfrom NYC—a day full of coworking, a mini-pitch event and happy hour. While we didn’t walk away from the event with investment, we made awesome friends and were forced to rethink our revenue models (something we’ll blog about in an upcoming post).

WEEKLY COWORKING MEETUPS

Through everything, we kept our Workfrom Portland weekly meetups running and only missed one week over the winter holidays. We have an awesome and active group of over 500—and we’re still growing strong!

Our platform grew up

API + MOBILE APPS

In February we hosted our first Founding Member AMA (Ask Me Anything) and when we unveiled an API on our roadmap, John Hobbs reached out for more info. In a lazy weekend, he built a native iPhone app using the API and we made updates and bug fixes, using his app as a baseline test. We soon forged exciting partnerships with the largest digital nomad community, NomadList and Silicon Valley startup, Teleport—who both use Workfrom data to enhance their experiences.

Our API has matured over the year and now powers our official Workfrom iPhone and Android apps, both in beta. See who else is using the Workfrom API and sign up for a Workfrom API key here.

DYNAMIC LEARNING: TAKING CUES FROM THE COMMUNITY

Our primary product enhancements were focused on community learning: ways in which we can learn from the community’s behaviors and actions to better reflect relevant content and recommendations. For example, if you’re making a decision between two potential workspots and you see that one is frequented by a group of coworkers you know and trust and the other is not … how does that impact your decision? If you like a place, but you think it may be busy right now, do you take the risk to try it out or avoid it all together? If you knew that a fellow coworker was at a location RIGHT NOW, would that drive you to choose that as your work place today, or not?

  • Favorites allow the collection, sharing and discovery of places. Based on community feedback, we’ll be expanding on this in the coming year so you can tag places and create multiple lists.
  • Real-time seating availability lets you see, right now, the likelihood you’ll find a spot should you choose to visit.
  • Clock-Ins let you broadcast and track where you’re working. Think spontaneous coworking and quantified self.


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