Munich Startup: When we last spoke to Shquared in 2021, you said that you wanted to expand beyond the borders of Munich. Were you able to achieve this goal?
Shquared: Yes, we have already taken a few good steps forward here. Our platform is now open to all postcode areas in Germany and the first spaces in Frankfurt, Cologne and Berlin have already been advertised. But we are particularly pleased about our first “City Portal” pilot project with the cultural department of the city of Göppingen, with which we have integrated our own city portal for the placement of spaces for creative and cultural professionals on our platform.
City Portals for a better overview and regular cash flow
Munich Startup: City Portal sounds exciting – is this a new direction for your marketplace?
Shquared: City portals are actually the logical extension of our previous intermediaries. We offer municipalities the opportunity to create their own personalised portal – a subpage on our marketplace. There they can offer all shareable and – in this case for the cultural and creative scene – usable spaces in a central place. Conversely, as before, requests can be advertised on our marketplace.
The Department of Culture finances the creation of the portal and supports these subsidised uses by covering the monthly provision costs. This saves the cultural workers almost the entire service fee that would be charged for a placement. The great thing is that the spaces offered on the city portals can of course also be found and booked on the platform by all other interested parties. We want to successively expand these city portals and thus rapidly increase the space on offer throughout Germany.
At the same time, we are exploring the possibility of using shared space to meet the needs of the logistics industry for micro-hubs via our Marketplace. We are a partner in the “Mobile Future Munich” alliance supported by the Free State of Bavaria and are working here with the mobility department of the City of Munich, the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK), among others, to develop the planned logistics space marketplace for Munich.
This means that in addition to the city portals, we also remain in contact with municipal committees on the topic of logistics.
Shquared: Area partnerships still a topic close to our hearts
Munich Startup: Until now, anyone could share space via Shquared, even without a city portal – is that no longer possible?
Shquared: But of course – and this is still an issue close to our hearts – we want to continue to offer space operators who do not have a supporting municipality in the background the opportunity to use the potential of their space sensibly and efficiently. And founders, creative people and entrepreneurs should have the chance to find suitable space partnerships everywhere.
That is why the city portals are not a new orientation, but a supplement that will help the marketplace offer grow faster and become more attractive. In Munich, we are already on a very good path. In the meantime, new space-sharers regularly find their way to our platform and advertise their spaces or send matching requests. By the way, our new video shows how easy space-sharing on the marketplace works.
Munich Startup: And how are you doing financially?
Shquared: As a responsibly-owned startup, we aim for solid growth and have anchored the consistent reinvestment of all profits in the company’s purpose in our articles of association. That’s why we have even given a veto share to a foundation that acts as the guardian of the promise. We are therefore not available to investors with an exit strategy. Of course, this always brings with it financial bottlenecks and we are proud that we have been able to counteract these again and again for four years with creative project approaches and further developments. In addition, we have a great network that goes along with these developments and actively supports us (not only financially).
Investors sought, but not for an exit
Starting this autumn, the development of the city portals will secure us regular income through the monthly service and hosting fees. In 2024, we want to cover our expenses with further city portals through regular, predictable income and use surpluses to give our marketplace more visibility and further expand both of Shquared’s pillars. In order to quickly master all the tasks ahead of us, we are also looking for investors to finance targeted measures, such as the marketing and visibility campaign planned for 2024, along with the necessary additional hands and heads for our team, despite the positive revenue forecasts.
Munich Startup: There have been some changes in the (founding) team since the start. What lessons did you learn during the process?
Shquared: Since the founding, there have been additions and departures to the team and these changes are full of challenges. It has helped us a lot that we firmly believe in our vision and want to develop this marketplace further. Openness – both internally within the team and with our partners – is a very important point. Concerns, worries and dissatisfaction must be voiced and taken seriously.
A solution-oriented mindset and respect are fundamental to the process. But we have also found that we do best when we keep moving and do not spend too much time discussing unpalatable challenges for too long. As difficult as personnel changes are, they offer opportunities for new structures, responsibilities, and personal growth – we have all been able to experience this in our own roles over the course of this time.
Give and take, the exchange and support are valuable
Munich Startup: What role has the Munich ecosystem played on your path so far?
Shquared: Munich is and remains our home base, the place where we know our way around best, where we are networked and where we have gained and continue to expand our multi-use expertise. The Munich network is multifaceted. There are numerous startups and founders as well as large and experienced players in the areas of multiple and interim use. A very active startup scene is supported by committed bodies in the city, local politics, science and business, with whom we repeatedly engage in exchange and cooperation. This give and take, the exchange and support are absolutely great and valuable.
Munich Startup: What milestones are you working towards next?
Shquared: By the end of next year, we want to have at least ten city portals on our platform and use these revenues to realise a marketing campaign for sharing space with Shquared. It would also be nice if we could hire more dedicated colleagues, because there is so much to do and we still have a lot of ideas that can make space-sharing even easier and more attractive.