Nikos Psaltopoulos – founder of themanroom

Nikos Psaltopoulos is the Melbourne born founder of themanroom. He studied Professional Writing & Editing and worked at media outlets including Channel Ten, ABC Radio and various print publications. At the same time as founding themanroom, he is currently working in a management role with an international pharmaceutical company, is involved in campaigning for the Greens Party in Melbourne and supporting local community initiatives in the City of Yarra.

I recently read somewhere the average life span of a human translates to 30,000 days. That figure gives me context and motivation. Jump everytime it’s a no-brainer.

Nikos is passionate about making a difference through collaboration and empowering community. He describes himself as an avid non-lycra urban cyclist, owning the hipster tag, a mid-century furniture addict and wannabe street artist.

Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen? 

I’ve been following the overseas and local coworking movement closely for a number of years. I was taken by the possibilities and amazing opportunities coworking provides through the creation of community via collaboration. Coworking spaces are critical in providing an organic platform to encourage the natural evolution of a creative, inspiring and productive ecosystem.

The current office model adopted by corporate organisations is archaic. It does nothing to foster creative thinking or harness new initiatives. The very fact a whole organisation resides in the same building ensures ‘groupspeak’ sets in. People start to think the same and act the same and it kills innovation.

Our concept was to provide a more intimate and exclusive coworking environment allowing the natural development of a collaborative community. We wanted a less transient feel to our space, whilst still harnessing a vibrant energy.

After researching and experiencing various coworking models, we invested in our first location in downtown Collingwood, in the heart of Melbourne’s creative precinct and converted a studio in an old factory into our first space.

Since then and true to the principles of collaboration, we’ve forged partnerships which will see themanroom brand further extend into the Australian coworking scene.

How do you make money? (please explain your business model)

It’s a multi-streamed financial model. First and foremost, it’s membership funding from the coworking space as well as using our spaces for functions, launches, classes and private events.

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?

Right now, it’s about further refining and expanding our model across Australia. There’s a real opportunity for us to take themanroom concept nationally and give our members the opportunity to cowork at anyone of our locations at anytime. At the moment, we’re forming collaborations to launch new spaces around the country. Stay tuned. We’re also working with some very talented people and supporting them with their amazing projects – we see it as our responsibility to do what we can to get their concepts off the ground. If they succeed, we succeed.

How do you make ideas happen?

You can either sit on an idea or execute it. There are risks with anything and everything we do in life. But if you’re going to allow the fear of those risks stop you from learning, experiencing and achieving that’s a waste of potential. We make ideas happen by jumping – jumping straight into it and allowing ourselves to make mistakes and learn from them.

I recently read somewhere the average life span of a human translates to 30,000 days. That figure gives me context and motivation. Jump everytime it’s a no-brainer

What does your typical day look like? 

I have a full time management role in a pharmaceutical company and I work together with a great team of talented high achievers. I’ve been with the organisation for almost fifteen years and I feel as challenged and as motivated today as when I first started. The leadership in our organisation is progressive and exciting and that’s what keeps me there. Although I put in many hours with this role, I also invest time in developing themanroom. Typically, the time I invest in themanroom is weeknights and weekends – I’m sure many people with enterpreneurial ambition can relate to this.

Apart from meeting with people and forging strategic collaborations for themanroom, the social media platform that is Twitter has been our most valuable investment. We launched themanroom via Twitter and gained most of our leads, contacts and alliances from this amazing platform. Our business is so dynamic and flexible that no day is the same – this is edge of your seat adrenalin raising excitement – totally hooked.

themanroom workspaces

 

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

Some people are disheartened or feel nervous by the great powershift in the global economy. As a result, they became ultra conservative with their financial resources and reduce their investment capabilities and stop supporting start ups or new projects. Ironically, this is potentially the best time to explore new opportunities and play a part in creating the new economy – this is the best time to jump and do something different – convincing people of this is sometimes a challenge. Initiatives like the crowdfunding site Pozible are brilliant platforms for this.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free? 

I have this idea that a simple iPhone App can effortlessly and automatically compile and complete quartlerly BAS statements for the ATO. I hope somebody out there can do this. They stand to make a fortune.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia, at the moment? 

I respect the great work of Rick Chen and the team at Pozible, the Australian based crowdfunding website. Rick is a great mind and has been part of many amazing start ups. The Pozible crew is a small talented and totally committed team who have achieved so much in a relatively small timeframe.

What about internationally? 

I love the vibe of General Assembly in New York. It’s a massive coworking space that played a critical part in further inspiring the whole movement. The team at GA are at the cutting edge of the collaborative coworking scene and it’s exciting to see what they will do next. scene and it’s exciting to see what they will do next.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

Social change is what we’re all about at themanroom. Social change starts with community and collaboration – these are the fundamentals of any coworking space. If anyone can play a part in affecting social change it’s the type of community we’re helping create. We’re continually challenging the status quo and breaking the boundaries of the old school business model. We want to be gamechangers.

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers? 

I’m a big fan of the great work by A City with Quirk (Ed. see our interview with the founder here) – as well as Chrystal Love Vintage and Social Media Monster – check them out.

Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter?

You have to get onto @chrystalovevintage she’s funny, real and provides an insight into the female psyche, as well as @DavidAHood and @KerryAnn_Bartle – all talented and interesting individuals.

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

Always looking for partners to take our concept nationally. Whether they’re startups, freelancers or corporate rebels looking for space or investors wanting to be part of our growth, we’re happy to have a conversation with everyone as there’s always opportunity for collaboration.

We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?

Totally, how about we look at offering a three month pass to our soon to be launched themanroom Richmond coworking space

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