You’ve heard of Airbnb and VRBO, right? Companies like these allow you to travel to a new destination and have a place to stay that feels like home, without having to fork over money every month for a hefty mortgage payment. That’s the same type of service that Christelle Rohaut, the founder of Codi, offers companies that need office or meeting spaces, but have no desire to buy or rent a building for its employees. With Codi, these companies can rent space for only the days they need. And this space is furnished with everything—desks, chairs, whiteboards, and even tasty snacks.
Codi currently manages around 50 furnished, private offices in Texas, New York, and California, with several more in the works. Here, Rohaut shares a bit about her journey with Codi, including some of the challenges she’s faced, the triumphs, and valuable advice for others who have business ideas of their own, but are scared to get started. Here’s what she had to say.
What Prompted the Idea for Codi?
“Codi was born out of my obsession for designing more sustainable cities, mixed with the culture shock of living in the US as a European,” says Rohaut. “Flexible office providers tend to be located downtown while hundreds of spaces are underutilized throughout the city, resulting in long commute times and the economic drain to downtown centers. By turning any underutilized space into a turnkey, timeshare Codi office, we can start decentralizing access to space, empower hybrid work, and tackle the biggest urban challenges of our time.”
What Have Been Some of the Challenges in Building and Growing the Business?
“The pandemic profoundly transformed our business and the industry as a whole,” Rohaut explains. “There’s a massive shift towards workplace flexibility, and we had to adapt to the ever-changing economic conditions of the office market. One important challenge remains: to convince the archaic commercial real estate industry to adapt to the new hybrid workforce by adopting novel office leasing models like Codi. We are seeing progress. As we grow in a given market, landlords start recognizing the Codi brand and trust us more easily with their space.”
What Are Some of the Highlights You’ve Experienced Along the Way?
“I’m very fortunate to have an incredible team,” says Rohaut. “Riding the pandemic rollercoaster together, staying hyper-focused on our mission – despite several pivots – and ultimately finding our product/market fit after two chaotic years was such a rewarding experience.”
What Advice Would you Give Someone Who Has a Business Idea but Is Scared to Pursue It?
“First, I’d recommend taking the time to assess whether they are ready to fight for this idea to exist and if they’re willing to navigate through hard times for the next decade,” suggests Rohaut, “Do you find yourself randomly dreaming or thinking about your business idea every day or night? Does it seem overwhelmingly obvious to you that this idea should exist in the world? Have you lost interest in your current job because of it?”
“If that’s the case, you’re likely doing yourself and others a big favor by pursuing your idea as soon as possible,” says Rohaut. “I’d recommend getting started by interviewing potential users to fully understand their needs, chatting with experts in the field, finding a mentor, and then quitting your job when the path forward is clearer.”
Where Do you See Codi Going in the Future?
“Our vision is to empower companies to thrive and employees to love their work life,” shares Rohaut. “We want to turn the historically painful office experience into an easy, quick, and flexible service that adapts to the company’s growth. We’ll keep developing our products to meet our vision of creating the end-to-end office management platform.”
Rohaut even talked a bit about Codi’s latest venture. “Our newest offering, Codi Offsite, is targeted to companies that work from dispersed locations or have gone all-remote,” she says. “We help them create offsite experiences that maximize the in-person time they have together and lets them avoid the cold, uninspiring conference rooms we’ve all had to endure at one time or another. As for our core offering, Codi will continue to expand into new US and Canadian markets, and ultimately become international.”short url: