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Total 39 companies invested
Total 79 companies invested

Portfolio startup case: inspace

Today we spoke with Elena Beloshapkova, the Founder & CEO of inspace. inspace is a platform that helps companies manage their hybrid workplace, and for employees and guests to seamlessly book and use various spaces and offices.

During our exchange, Elena elaborated on how her vast 17-year experience in the real estate, construction, and office furniture industry inspired her to establish the startup, and she also disclosed some of the challenges she faced along the way. Furthermore, Elena shared some valuable advice for young and aspiring founders.

inspace is a workplace platform for hybrid offices

inspace is the #1 employee-centric booking platform embracing the future of work that allows workplace leaders to optimize and save up to 80% on their office footprint.

The platform is used by companies from Fortune 500 to startups to improve the hybrid work experience and gain actionable data about how and when the office is used.
inspace offers more flexible booking options compared to competitors. While they only allow meeting rooms with a physical door to be booked, inspace allows any space to be reserved - up to an armchair. This level of flexibility means that workplace leaders can make any area in the office available for booking.

inspace helps employees find the optimal time and location for their meetings, taking into account the office schedule. Additionally, the platform provides notifications for package deliveries and allows employees to sign up for executive office usage and receive updates on when their preferred executive will be in the office for face-to-face meetings.

inspace provides personalized guest experience as well by assisting them with easy to follow visual directions to the correct building and floor, and even remembering their preferred coffee order.

All data collected is available to workplace leaders for analysis, including which days and spaces are the most popular among employees and departments. The platform provides insight on how to optimize the space based on this data, such as the need for more height-adjustable desks, larger meeting rooms, or acoustic booths. It also makes it easy to understand and report on hybrid work policy compliance.

With inspace, companies can make data-driven decisions about their office space.
Inspace UI for booking

How we got our start

I have 17 years of experience in the industry and created offices for Google, Cisco, Volkswagen, and other big companies. I have 750 office projects under my belt, including headquarters up to 5 million sq ft.

What I noticed then is that all my clients lacked effective office management tools. Despite creating beautiful office spaces and filling them with modern furniture, they didn't have the software to manage these spaces effectively. I saw this as a really scalable market opportunity.

I reached out to Condeco, a company that was already creating office management tools. They installed special devices into the desktops that could track the presence of an employee in the office. I needed to find a solution for 200 tables for Cargill, a company I was working with at the time. However, Condeco's quote wasn't satisfactory. They took four months to prepare a quote and offered $200,000 for 200 tables, which was too expensive even for Cargill.

At that point, I realized that existing solutions didn't allow them to prepare quotes quickly, and the cost of the solution was very high even for a large company.

So, I decided to create my own solution. We launched the first version of inspace in July 2021, and very soon we had our first paying customer. Fortunately for us, this and other customers are still with us, which speaks volumes about the quality of our product.

Challenges we faced

One of the main challenges was identifying our target audience. While it may seem like a minor issue, it's critical for any startup to define its target audience in the American market to survive.

While it's tempting to try to sell to everyone, the US market is too vast, and no startup has a marketing budget large enough to cover the whole market. To avoid wasting time and money, you need to first understand whom you're trying to sell to, making your efforts as effective as possible. This is a big undertaking for any American startup.

I've been working with enterprise customers for 17 years, but we were unsure if our target audience would be the same. We also weren't sure which positions in a company we should be selling to. It turned out that some competitors had success with office managers, while others succeeded with HR leaders.

To define our target audience in every way, we created a data-driven Ideal Customer Profile. What we did is analyze the clients of our competitors, competitor case studies, G2 reviews, and applications we had already received. Based on this research, we focused on companies in three segments:

  • technology companies,
  • business services,
  • and education (which was unexpected).

It took a decent amount of time, but once we identified the target audience, inspace more than tripled the number of leads.

T3/Savills Case: 77% office space reduction

One of the cases inspace can be proud of is optimizing T3/Savills office space in Boston. Our goal was to reduce the office footprint from 15,000 sq ft to 3,400 sq ft, while still providing a top-notch employee experience. We achieved a remarkable 77% space reduction by leveraging data and smart planning, coupled with strategic decision-making.

T3 wanted a balanced approach that benefited employees and the organization while maintaining flexibility for employees. We created an interactive floor plan that allows users to see available and booked spaces quickly, and made it possible to track office traffic levels and space usage.

Now T3 staff can easily book each desk, meeting space, and phone booth through a simple app. Moreover, collaborations have become faster, as team members can now locate each other by tapping on a coworker's name.

The entire implementation process took only two weeks, and T3 was able to achieve their desired workspace while significantly reducing their office footprint. The result was a flexible and adaptive workspace that promotes productivity and collaboration, all while maintaining a high degree of employee satisfaction.

The T3 case is not an exception. We have helped several clients reduce their footprint from 20% to 80%. It is not just about reducing square footage, although that is certainly helpful in this economy. Many companies today are looking to “right-size” their spaces, meaning the right number of fixed and flexible seating, meeting and shared spaces, as well as rethink what are the best types of spaces to help them achieve higher engagement and productivity. It is nearly impossible to configure and manage this type of space without data. This is ultimately where software, like inspace, is changing the game for hybrid workplaces.

You can see how much space your office could save using the inspace Office Space Optimization Template.
Example of Inspace Analytics Dashboard

Ultimate advice for founders

Through lots of projects, I've gained valuable insights and lessons that I believe important to share with aspiring entrepreneurs.

Here are a few that have helped me and my team succeed:

  • Prioritize data whenever possible. While intuition can be useful (as it's based on accumulated knowledge), it's best to rely on data whenever possible. Consider how it has helped our own company.

  • Consider offering a self-service product. Automated sales are one of our company's main advantages over our competitors. Customers can simply visit our website, log in with their corporate email, and immediately gain access to our product. Then, we teach them how to use it via email. The customer can handle everything independently with the help of  our educational email nurturing campaigns. There is no need to communicate with any of our salespeople, try to do the same.

  • Focus on sales above all else. Always keep in mind the importance of focusing on acquiring as many paying customers as you can. If you can prioritize just one goal, it should be adding as many paying clients as possible each month.