Could you tell us a bit about what SoWork does? Please give a brief description of your company.
SoWork is the world’s Workplace Metaverse. We move teams from the earth to your own customizable office in the cloud. This way anyone can work from anywhere at any time.
Work has fundamentally changed. The new normal is one built on flexible work, empowered teams, and connected individuals who thrive where and when they want.
Could you describe your entrepreneurial journey so far?
To use the common phrase, it’s a rollercoaster! The SoWork you see and experience today is the result of the nimble, entrepreneurial spirit that our team embodies: we pivoted an edtech platform to the workplace metaverse early on in the pandemic when our own team was faced with the disconnected, fatigued pains common to pandemic teams across the world who were forced to go remote overnight. At every step, there’s more to observe, uncover, learn from, and react to, and we’re just now figuring out how to grow up and start to scale while keeping this spirit at our core. It’s definitely a challenging, rewarding experience every day.
Why did you apply to the Startupbootcamp Scale Osaka program?
When we thought of international expansion, Japan was top of mind. We see Japan’s cultural mix includes gaming and productivity which seemed like a perfect match for us. There’s several options when entering Japan - finding a corporate sponsor, entering on your own, or a dedicated Japanese sales force. We decided on partnering with Startupbootcamp Scale Osaka because of their dedication to helping teams succeed in their expansion efforts.
How is SoWork working to build smart cities/smart living?
As you can imagine, commuting to the office is one of the top causes of pollution, resulting in urban planning and work structure that just aren’t built for eco-living, sustainable design, or the kinds of lives any of us want to be living where we actually control our time and our choices. Teams and companies who move into SoWork and out of their physical offices give this time and freedom back to their employees and IRL real estate back to the cities to use in better, more integrated ways. We can reimagine city blocks, un-do skyscrapers that block out greenery from urban centers, and bring back communities.
How have you found the experience of going through the program? Are there any challenges in collaboration with large companies?
The experience was extremely valuable in helping us understand challenges across a wide range of companies including small, new startups up to large corporations. SBC Scale Osaka was phenomenal with presenting us opportunities in this way.
We’re still gauging how to best partner with large companies since their needs vary widely on a case by case basis. But one significant challenge for us has been security protocols and firewalls. Company security, particularly in this remote age, has strengthened so we’ve needed to develop better ways to communicate and collaborate with company IT teams.
What was the most significant lesson learned during the program?
The importance of smooth onboarding. People of all ages and experiences can use SoWork but those without experience with gaming or tech, find the experience difficult at first. This scares people away or colors the rest of their experience. We realize that we have a precious window at the start of a customer’s journey that needed to be adapted so we could better welcome people to the platform (regardless of experience)
What are you looking for to make your next steps?
Right now, we’re looking to partner with small, nimble companies in Japan who want to experiment with us and share their feedback. We want to learn fast and improve even faster and are looking for ways to achieve this.