The Coworker is a new weekly series by MTLinTECH that spotlights one Montreal coworking space every Tuesday.
“If I stay there will be trouble”
If only Sylvain Boissé could have predicted how the past two years unfolded in Montreal’s coworking market, he might not of expanded from his small space above Le Belmont bar and club on blvd Saint Laurent.
The owner of the NEXUS coworking space moved to the current, larger space at rue Clarke and Mont-Royal in 2013, right in the heart of the Mile End neighbourhood. But times are about to get tough.
NEXUS may soon shut down due to overwhelming competition.
“I have lost some business and September is going to be a disaster. It’s going to be my worst month since moving here,” said Boissé, a 36-year-old web developer who runs his own business with his brother, Mike, on top of managing NEXUS.
Boissé’s concerns reflect a sentiment that several space owners across the city have told MTLinTECH over the three-month The Coworker series. The city’s coworking market is overcrowded, they say. Supply has usurped demand.
“Every week we see another new coworking space opening and I see some of the others closing. It’s really changing and becoming very competitive. And with WeWork coming in we see that other coworking spaces are having a hard time surviving,” he said, referencing the fact that Station C, one of the city’s first spaces, recently closed down.
Boissé said NEXUS was the fifth or sixth space to open its doors in Montreal when it did so in 2010. Originally the brothers just wanted a larger office for their web development business, but they figured it might be a better idea to rent a larger space and sub-lease it out to other companies.
It turned out to be a lucrative, intelligent move.
“It was working well so we made it a side business and it was relatively easy to cover the expenses. We just grew. After two years above Le Belmont we were at full capacity,” said Boissé.
Figuring there was a large enough demand, the brothers Boissé moved to NEXUS’ current digs at Clark street in 2013, doubling its size in the process. Last year at this time the space was completely full, including the central portion that houses about 30 dedicated desks, as well as the private offices that border them.
“One day is fine and the next is black”
Today just 20 of NEXUS’ 30 dedicated desks are filled. Boissé was expecting a successful June but he ended up taking a net loss of three tenants. A few of those left for WeWork. Boissé said other spaces have also taken a hit from the global mega-chain of coworking spaces.
Despite all the bad news, NEXUS is, in fact, still in business.
Moreover, it offers extremely competitive prices. A dedicated desk goes for just $219 per month plus tax, one of the lowest prices we’ve seen in Montreal far. The private offices typically cost $550 per month, while there are some smaller ones that run for $450 per month.
NEXUS’ large conference room can also be booked by anyone for $20 per hour.
“This indecision’s bugging me
(Esta indecision me molesta)”
Boissé has considered reducing his dedicated desk price to $149, which would likely make it the lowest price in the entire city. He can still earn a profit but it might end up being too much work for too little reward. After all, the brothers’ web development business can pay the bills, so there appears little motivation to focus energy on a pursuit rife with challenges.
Closing down NEXUS is a very real possibility for its founder in today’s crowded coworking space market in Montreal.
“I think the market is saturated,” said Boissé. “I keep telling people this and they tell me no. Les Affaires interviewed me and when I read the article, Station C was quoted as saying, “No, no, it’s not saturated at all, we’re going to have new desks and we have too many people,” and now Station C is gone. La Commune closed as well and La Gare lost many people when WeWork came in.”
Have you read the rest of The Coworker series?
Petite Nuwrk has grand visions – August 16
Esplanade creates a familial atmosphere – August 2
Le 402 is small but the price is nice – July 26