When you think of marshmallows, visions of a crackling campfire or a synthetically delicious packet of Wagon Wheel cookies may come to mind. What’s less likely to pop into your head? Marshmallows as rent payment.
Despite the improbability of this scenario, London startup Mallow & Marsh are making it their reality, swapping 15,000 of their artisanal marshmallows for 50% of their rent at a coworking space in Shoreditch. Marshmallows are, of course, a less-than-typical form of remuneration for even the hippest of startups, but the idea of part-paying in goods could actually be an effective way for coworking businesses and startups to support each other. What are the benefits of this kind of compensation, and how does it impact the larger entrepreneurial community? Here’s how this trend could transform the relationships between startups and coworking spaces.
It’s no secret that entrepreneurs turn to coworking spaces in order to cut costs – according to some estimates, businesses can save up to 75% by choosing flexible office space. One of the more obvious benefits of part-paying in goods is that it saves small businesses even more money, which they can use to scale their products and grow their companies. But coworking spaces can save money with such arrangements, too: if a small digital marketing or IT company offers its services in exchange for offices, the coworking space could cut costs on outsourcing its social media or tech support.
If the deal between Mallow & Marsh and their London coworking space is any indication, part-paying in goods can raise the profiles of both companies involved in the transaction. But a startup’s method of payment doesn’t need to be quite as flashy as 15,000 artisanal marshmallows to garner attention from such a deal – just by using a startup’s product within a coworking space, the brand can gain exposure among the other people using the office. Furthermore, such transactions earn the coworking space a positive reputation for supporting small businesses, which could attract other companies to their facilities.
Enriching the Office Environment
In addition to adopting coworking for money-saving purposes, startups often choose this style of work because of the hip environment it offers. A coworking space in Shoreditch is typically stylish and fully equipped with impressive amenities: some spaces have breakout recreational areas with ping-pong tables and bean bags; London coworking space The Brew even houses a café serving coffee, wine, beer and French tapas. When businesses part-pay in goods and their products are made available to everyone in the office, the coworking space feels more special to the people who use it. After all, who wouldn’t want an office with free marshmallows in the kitchen?
Fostering Positive Relationships
Perhaps the most important benefit of the part-paying in goods trend is the way it cultivates constructive relationships within the entrepreneurial community. It encourages coworking spaces to get to know the startups that use them, forging connections that could last well beyond the startup’s lease. Such relationships are crucial in the fast-paced startup world, as they might help a business find funding, clients or other opportunities down the line.
From improving the coworking environment to cutting costs, part-paying in goods seems to have abundant potential for strengthening both individual businesses and the entrepreneurial community as a whole – if and when it moves beyond marshmallows. In order to gain traction, more adventurous startups and coworking spaces will need to adopt the trend and prove that its benefits are more than just a sugar-coated publicity stunt.
Daniel Moore is an experienced content writer by profession and he mainly writes on different aspects of business from business start ups to expansion.