Rent your empty meeting rooms to others with Zipcube

office-table-home-room-large

Anyone who has worked in an office will know how much of a nightmare it can be to book meeting rooms. Often you are required to go through specific people, and when there is a system in place it’s generally difficult to use. Zipcube wants to take the friction out of this process and help change the way we view meeting rooms in the process. Follow Innovation sat down with Co-Founder David Hellard to hear more about their plans.

“Zipcube are a cross between Airbnb, Booking.com and Toptable but for meeting rooms. From a customer point of view you can search and book meeting rooms anywhere, anytime, anyhow. From a business point of view you can offer your meeting rooms on our service and make money from them, but also you can use our software to manage your meeting rooms internally.”

This is where Zipcube really begins to open up new markets for the booking of meeting rooms. Whilst many companies, particularly larger ones, could benefit from a system for their internal rooms that is intuitive and easy to use for their employees, there is the opportunity for many places that have unused rooms to make money from them.

“About 60% of meeting rooms are empty at any point,” David told us, “and that doesn’t even include all those spaces that could be used for meetings. All you really need is a quiet space with WiFi and maybe a screen. As the way we work changes and people begin to work away from typical offices more, we see our solution as giving them an easy way to find a nice quiet space rather than having to work from a noisy, uncomfortable coffee shop. There’s some amazing space out there that you don’t realise; so many bars have great creative spaces. One of the reasons you go to a bar is because it’s the kind of place you actually want to hang out. Who wants to sit in a stuffy, boring meeting room, when you could actually go and work in an exciting room in a nice place?”

We asked David what led the Founders of Zipcube to choose the meeting room space.

“Meeting rooms seem simple, but actually it’s the most complex product to simplify because it’s nobody’s core business. It’s really the forgotten stepchild of everyone’s industry, nobody is a meeting room business. They all have their own software which forces their behaviour, so hotels only take daily bookings because their meeting rooms are entered into their software as bedrooms and you book a bedroom for a day. There’s no option to book their meeting rooms for an hour or even a shorter chunk of time.”

Zipcube began on paper around November 2013, and then went live with a website in early 2014. Since then they’ve gone through a number of accelerators to help build out their product. David gave some detail on their journey to this point.

“The industry has been set up for events rather than meetings. It’s the same amount of work to find the right hotel for 100 person conference as for a 6 person meeting room, but the event organiser gets a much smaller commission, so typically they don’t bother. A lot of websites came along which listed options but have always been enquiry based, so you see an option, send off and then hear back whenever the venue contacts you. We came along and said actually we’ll specialise in booking. The way we’ve designed our platform is to be as easy for venues to use as possible. We only make our money when we bring in the business – we don’t charge them for holding their rooms on it. Once we got a few businesses doing bookings through us, we could actually go out and say our average booking time is three days – these places usually slash their prices three weeks out because they aren’t able to fill them, so for us to be able to say we can fill it three days out and there’s no work for you, it’s become a lot easier to get people on board.”

With an app coming out soon, Zipcube seems set to provide a convenient alternative to the old, costly, method for booking meeting rooms, and one that consumers and businesses alike will benefit from. We asked David what the future holds…

“We just want to be connecting everyone. There’s so much potential in this market with the way that people work changing so rapidly. There are benefits for businesses beyond just simplifying bookings for employees or making a bit more money. Many businesses have empty space in their office, either because they’re downsizing or planning to grow. Guess what, if you have space in the city then other people are going to want that space, including your potential customers. What better way to market your services than to actually get people into your office, into your meeting rooms and then leave a few leaflets out. We’ve spoken to retail banks who typically struggle to make money from their branches. With our service, people will actually pay to come into their space. The dream for us is that somebody in their office is unable to find a meeting room, so they go two floors down to different company and use one of theirs. If you’re talking about collaboration, shared space is the way to create those encounters.”

You can try Zipcube here.