How Dave and I got started with www.Nesk.io
I love stories on the very early stages of an idea, how it forms and the ultimate creation of business from that simple idea. I’m going to be super indulgent and run through the steps Dave and I took in getting to the start of our new business Nesk – Desk rental by the hour.
Over six months of casual discussion during coffee, lunch and beer. I would tell Dave about my problems, the things that keep me up at night as the owner of a co-working venue. He would share his perspective as a member of depo8 and where things could be streamlined.
Keep in mind, during all these discussions the thought of creating a business had not even been brought up. I was too absorbed with whinging and Dave was happy listening. It was pure banter in between all the other banter that goes on between mates – life, family, kids, ideas, business, work.
Towards the end of 2014 the discussions became a lot more serious after the prototype lock (Lockitron) we so heavily relied on to let members in an out of depo8 using their smartphone stopped working. Plus our process for managing casual members was being stretched between entering a tick next to someones name, handing that over to Jodie to type into a spreadsheet to then create an invoice in Xero. It was painful.
Like a year 11 student walking across the quadrangle to ask a girl out on a date, I sheepishly asked Dave if he would be interested helping us develop something new to let people in and out of the office with a greater level of flexibility.
He said yes and we broke for Christmas – New Year celebrations with a loose plan to kick off in the new year.
On the 18 January, Dave officially dives into the project by ordering some off the shelf hardware and hacking together a rough prototype to demonstrate the locking capabilities. Dave is a great designer and developer. But building hardware is totally new to him. So when it came time for the all important connection of hardware to live power – well he whimped out and there was no way I was touching live wires. So we had to call Chris and Rob from Annex Products to lend some guidance and ensure we didn’t A. Fry Dave’s beard and B. Blow up depo8.
The locking/unlocking worked perfectly with the app Dave had created. Buoyed by the early success we raced ahead with researching more locks, buying components from overseas, multiple trips to locksmiths and Radio Parts and generally getting totally distracted by the fun side of the project – building stuff. We promptly regained focus and turned our attention to the core of the solution – a billing platform that allowed venue owners to rent out their desks by the hour, with members self-checking in and out to automate the payments back to the venue owners.
While Dave continued with developing the platform, iterating with a small group, I was out talking to other co-working venues to gain support. During this time we also brainstormed the name of the business ultimately landing on Nesk at the end of February. You can read more about that process here – Naming a new business
Dave and I have maintained a very fluid approach to this phase of the project with no formal business plans, 100 page project scope documents or pitch decks. However, in March, we did sit down and flesh out the essence of what we were trying to offer our customers. The website www.nesk.io details what it’s all about.
By April Dave had built a functioning web app that allowed members to check in using their smartphone and collected this information through a dashboard venues had access to via their browser.
We ran a trial at depo8 to see the level of interest from members and iron out bugs. For depo8 it was more than a trial. It was promoted as $5 per hour but instantly the high flexibiity and automation meant signing up new members became far more efficient.
I continued to demonstrate Nesk to other co-working owners and challenged other venue owners at the Global Co-Working Conference in Sydney. The absurdity of renting out a desk by the second, minute, hour is a tough one for a lot of existing co-working venues to fathom considering the industry leans towards purchase of up front packs of hours compared to our on demand – high flexibility model.
Nesk Pty Ltd was incorporated which in essence kicked into gear a bank account, which allowed us to hook up Stripe and automate all the payments.
With over 50 “neskers” passing more than $5000 worth of hourly desk hire, we can officially say Nesk is “post-revenue”.
Now the hard work begins. Bringing on the next 100, 1000, 5000 customers and building a business that can truly add value to people as they go about their work day.