Coworking has more than made its mark in the world of innovation and technology. For founders, having the ability to collaborate with their team and others who are focusing on growing a successful business is valuable, as most would agree that in-person knowledge exchanges are priceless.
But coworking isn’t just for techies anymore. Creatives and entrepreneurs of all backgrounds find themselves attracted to coworking spaces due to the ability to meet other like-minded people, their future co-founders, and other potential team members. However, there are certain issues, such as a hefty price tag, that also comes with coworking.
With three locations in Austin including Nightcap on West Sixth, Tillery on East Cesar Chavez, L’Oca d’Oro in Mueller, and more on the way, Siri Chakka and Silva Gentchev, the founders of Reset, are working to make the experience of coworking affordable and comfortable for all.
BLNDED had the opportunity to speak with Chakka and Gentchev about how they launched the company, the challenges they’ve faced along the way, and how they look forward to growing their community in Austin and beyond.
Reset’s mission is to empower people to do their best work as freelancers, entrepreneurs, work-from-homers or restaurateurs. The idea was born when Chakka and Gentchev were having dinner at a beautiful restaurant in East Austin, lamenting about the fact there was no affordable, reliable, and social place to work in Austin and why they couldn’t work in a beautiful location such as the restaurant they were in. They decided to test their affordability theory by interviewing over 50 remote workers.
The duo quickly learned this was a widespread problem and decided to interview restaurateurs. After learning more about ever-rising rent costs, labor costs and other problems that plagued the local, independent restaurant industry, they decided to launch Reset.
While almost 50% of Americans work from home in some capacity, only a handful of places to work are available, so it can be a struggle to find a place to be productive. For those priced out the of the traditional co-working market ($300+/month for a floating desk), there is no affordable, reliable, and social solution available in Austin.
The US is also seeing a bursting of the restaurant bubble. 60% of restaurants go under in their first year, with the rate being even higher for local, independent restaurants. A restaurant’s two largest costs are rent and labor, both of which are on the rise in most major US cities, while revenue remains stagnant as consumers are not willing to spend more for food.
Reset solves two problems with one solution. By eliminating lease and build out costs, Reset creates coworking solutions that cost half the amount of traditional coworking, while also providing a passive stream of income to their restaurant partners.
Although both founders have successful and failed startups, they each continue to learn lessons as they grow Reset. Chakka is originally from Chicago, where she studied engineering and practiced management consulting prior to moving to Austin to attend The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. She dabbled in product management at Amazon, was the Chief Strategy Officer for the B2B SaaS startup gameFI, and now consults for Private Equity firms on pre-M&A due diligence and post-M&A operational improvements.
Gentchev is originally from San Francisco, where she studied economics and was a B2B and B2C marketer for a variety of tech startups in the Bay Area. She also moved to Austin to attend McCombs which is how she met Chakka. Gentchev’s background includes retail management at Amazon and she is now a product manager at Dell. Both have decided to keep their full-time jobs in order to not take money out of Reset as it gets started. Although this gives more flexibility on the timeline and lets them make less risky decisions, it gets difficult to juggle two jobs.
Diversity is at the front of Chakka and Gentchev’s minds when it comes to building a team and programming. Giving everyone the same opportunities needed to succeed – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation – is important to the Reset team.
Diversity in tech also means seeing people that look like you at all levels, more women and people of color in power, raising money, exiting, on boards, etc. We’re especially passionate about paying it forward as well, and helping other female entrepreneurs be successful however we can.
Speaking of female entrepreneurs, the Female Founders Austin Meetup has been a crutch for Chakka and Gentchev to lean on whenever they have a question, need words of encouragement, feedback, or just need to vent. Their group of friends from McCombs has also been invaluable, connecting them with their networks, helping them flyer the streets, and being models for Reset photoshoots.
Throughout this process, it was important for them to protect their friendship through this endeavor. Although friend time blends into work time, they make a cognizant effort to make separate time for both.
“We don’t know how we could’ve started Reset without each other. Finding a co-founder, an equal partner to burden the responsibilities and emotional ups and downs is so important before starting a business.”