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Seedstars, the startup competition for emerging markets, is on a drive to acquire or partner with co-working spaces in cities around the world through its Seedspace brand. Three of its 16 planned sites will open in Africa shortly.
Nathan Heller, who heads up Seedspace experience and is the founder of Cape Town Seedspace venue Spin Street House, says among the 16 new sites planned, the organisation aims to add sites in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Cairo (Egypt) and Casablanca (Morocco).
Other sites are planned for Quito, Mexico City, Lima, Medellin, Jeddah, Beirut, Naigaon (India), Saigon, Islamabad, Baku, Abu Dhabi, Manila and Hong Kong.
Heller could not provide any dates on when the sites would be opened, but added that some announcements would be made soon.
‘Seedspace is not a franchise model, we are a mix of partnering with or acquiring existing sites’
At present Seedspace has five co-working sites in Africa. Together with the original Lagos site, these include a mix of some sites which have been acquired (Cape Town) and others in which sites are partnering with Seedspace (Durban, Nairobi and Addis Ababa).
“For the moment it’s not a franchise model, we are a mix of partnering with or acquiring existing co-working sites for example Cape Town, Nairobi (existing) — and launching our own original hubs from scratch eg: Geneva, Lagos (up and running well); and Cairo, Abidjan (coming soon),” he said.
He said those who own a co-working place can get Seedstars interested in a partnership or acquisition if they have a strong entrepreneur community and have a building that is a minimum size of 1000 square metres.
The benefits of being associated with Seedspace include access to a global network for co-workers, shared best practices across multiple markets and access to central services (including a growth hacking team).
Co-workers and entrepreneurs can utilise Seedspace’s global network to find partners or customers, get insights from over 70 countries and can grow their peer-to-peer community, he said. In addition, those at co-working sites can get direct access to exposure to investors and Seedstars initiatives, events, online community, investment opportunities and mentorship.
Heller stressed however that while co-working sites that associate with Seedspaces can get an equity injection, an acquisition consideration is performed on a case-by-case basis.
*Editor’s note (11 May 2018): In an email in May 2018, Seedspace Cape Town lead Nathan Heller told Ventureburn that Seedspace no longer has spaces in Durban, Nairobi and Addis Ababa.
Heller explained that there was an affiliate model in progress at the time (back in November 2017), but that this has since shifted and that the organisation now has “a much clearer and more permanent own hub model and partnering with existing hubs eg Cape Town taking place”.