“I want to go to Ziferblat while we are in London.”
My best friend and daughter looked at me blankly.
“Wumi is having an exhibition at the space and I want to see his work.”
They looked at each other.
“Wumi, who worked on the 100 word Pilgrimage in Munich.”
Sighing, I realised that my art related activities floated above their heads like the clouds.
“We are going to Ziferblats.”
Ziferblats is located in Shoreditch in an area with a sense of humour but struggling with gentrification.
The building where Ziferblats is located is still unrenovated and it is a bit confusing to get into the space. When we arrived, we saw the window display and assumed the entrance was to the left of the window but it is in fact to the right at the residential door and you need to ring a buzzer to get into the space.
Ringing a buzzer to get into the space seems kind of cool until you see that there is a big issue with the Buzzer ringing.
I was tempted to buzz the vintage bride buzzer to see what kind of vintage wedding dresses they had but I was at the building to see the Zifferblat space and Wumi’s artwork so I followed the directions and avoided pressing the bottom two buttons or the vintage button. (We need to draw them some cool images for their door buzzers. People do well with visuals.)
Pressing the correct button, a male voice said hello and I said hello and then the door buzzed open. There are no signs once you enter the building just an empty white stairway. We walked up two flights of stairs and found an open door and a friendly face inviting us in.
David, the friendly face, explained the rules to us. We could stay in the space and pay 3GBP per hour. My friend and daughter walked over and plopped themselves down onto two chairs while I walked around looking at the rooms and Wumi’s artwork.
Wumi’s Artwork Exhibited at Ziferblat
The reason for visiting the clubhouse was to see Wumi’s artwork.
The digital prints were priced under 100 Euro and the original artwork was under 500 Euro. If you are interested in any of the pieces, please contact Wumi.
Business Related Stuff (Skip this if you are not interested in business observations.)
I noticed that the website for Ziferblat was a subdomain which meant that there was something bigger behind Ziferblat than the small community space we visited. I clicked on the Global team link and found that Ziferblat was a startup.
As far as I can tell there are 13 spaces with most of the spaces being in Russia & Eastern Europe. (Makes sense since Ziferblat is a Russian startup.)
When I visited the London location, there was nothing that shouted franchise. It felt like the spaces near the university I attended or a US fraternity house so I’m not sure what part of the business was franchised other than the name and the hourly fee idea nor do I know what kind of headquarter support is provided (marketing, PR, customer service, etc.)
The initial price to open a Ziferblat franchise is 10k dollars (not sure which currency) and your own airline tickets to visit the founder in Moscow. With a franchise system, there are usually other fees but those are not discussed on the website so your investment is 10k and the vacation costs of visiting Moscow and unknown expenses associated with owning a franchise.
Using a franchise model is the latest trend for startups. It allows you to avoid bringing in venture capital and still grow at a steady pace. The Ziferblat team is hoping to have 1k Ziferblat locations by 2025. I think with a bit of tweaking this might be possible but I would not set my strategy timeline so far into the future with such a business model that has already been proven to work enough to survive for three years. Maybe putting the goal into our decade would be easier to wrap our heads around and light a fire under the expansion team’s butt and keep the startup motivated.
13 locations have opened in the last 3 years. They will need to spore themselves around the globe to reach their goal by 2025 (or my goal of 2019) but maybe if they make a few small changes, they can ad revenue and make the idea more enticing.
Rent in expensive cities like London would be the biggest stress for expansion. I would set up an uninsured cubby hole/locker system where people can leave non valuable things like a coffee cup, reading material, slippers. (You rent the cubby by month.) 50 – 30 Euro a month cubby spaces and 50 – 60 Euro Deluxe cubby spaces would cover the rent and some admin costs. A cubby would allow people like me who like the space to have my own mug and maybe even a blanket/pillow/tea bags/emergency chocolate and unlicked biscuits available when I visit so that I don’t have to lug them with me when I go to the space. It would also give a reason to go to this space on a regular basis and keep a steady flow of users.
You could franchise the cubby system and offer it to cafe places with available space to help with the sporing process. Nothing in their concept says that their Ziferblat workspace must be a brand new space just that the people are paying by the hour instead of by the drink.
There is going to be an app soon. Hopefully it is an app that lets you pay for your time. I like online payment systems so that I can keep track of my time and deduct it from my taxes which is harder to do if you are paying cash. online documentation of my time would also allow me to see how much time I’m charged and incorporate the cost into my budget and use it as a business expense.
Enough about geeky business.
My daughter wanted to stay and draw but my best friend was appalled that I wanted to hang out in a space where I had to make my own coffee and offered to buy my coffee at Starbucks so he wouldn’t have to ever go back to this Bohemian space.
I would use the space as a workspace to write during the day. The space isn’t a cafe but a grownup clubhouse for alternative people which means that it is perfect for artists visiting the city from Munich who like to grab tasty food at the food trucks but want to sit down somewhere comfortable to eat their edible treasures.