Founders of YOUBE. From left, Co-CEO Jenny Berglund Castro, CTO Babak Kheshti and Co-CEO Stephan Agerman.
Photo Courtesy: Eugene Kim.
Conveniently located in West Adams, you will find our brilliant member YOUBE’s drop-in-co-work space, a flexible office solution founded by Jenny Berglund Castro, Babak Kheshti and Stephan Agerman. YOUBE provides you with all the essentials such as desks, focus chairs, meeting pods, printers, kitchenette, phone booths and on site staff –serving the need for a quiet, comfortable as well as inspiring place to work!
Exclusive SACC-LA Interview with Jenny Berglund Castro,
Co-Founder & Co-CEO of YOUBE!
Jenny Berglund Castro.
Photo Courtesy: Eugene Kim.
Jenny Berglund Castro
Co-CEO and Co-Founder of YOUBE
SACC-LA had the opportunity to chat with YOUBE’s Co-CEO and Co-Founder Jenny Berglund Castro! The interview touched upon everything from how the idea of YOUBE was born to what Jenny misses most about Sweden.
1. How did you and your co-founders come up with the idea of YOUBE?
It came from a very personal need for all of us. We were all entrepreneurs who had to drive around the city of Los Angeles for meetings, on a daily basis. Being a freelancer, you don’t always know what your income is going to be in the next few months so an office space isn’t always within the budget. It was hard to find flexible office solutions, so we ended up sitting at cafes and restaurants working on our laptops. You feel pretty strange sitting with only one coffee during a 3-hour cafe visit and It is not very ergonomic nor efficient to sit there. Usually, there is no place to charge your laptop, there are loud noises from the espresso machines and bathrooms… not always up to par.
At the same time, with the retail exodus, there were tons of empty retail stores everywhere so we thought; why don’t we get in on shorter-term leases, put furniture in these spaces, get secure wifi and have people book seats via an app – whenever and wherever they want to! “One membership, all locations” has always been part of our brand so now we are working on scaling up YOUBE so more people can enjoy it, all over the city!
2. You are one of three co-founders who worked full time for one and a half year, to make this company happen. What made you three a good team and what motivated you to keep going? And is it true that while you worked on this, you were all unpaid?
Yes, we were unpaid while we were defining our concept, doing all the research, building out our financial model, creating our pitch and pitching a ton of investors! We were ready to give up a few times, but just as that happened we got a glimpse of an opportunity and eventually, we landed our funds. It felt wonderful to find investors that saw what you saw and the opportunity within this hybrid solution – and this was before the pandemic.
3. Who is your target customer?
Freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners but also people who work from home and is longing to sit in a different place and get energy from being around other humans. In this new hybrid work situation, we are the perfect option to come sit at.
4. Could you briefly explain the process of how the membership and your YOUBE service work?
Membership is just a creation of an account – name, email and password. Then you choose what package of credits you need. 1 credit $6, 8 credits $32, 40 / 80 / 120 credits are $160 / $240 / $300. A desk is hence $2.50-$6 per hour depending on your package. A meeting pod for 4 is as low as $20 / hour. These are one-time purchases only, you have to actively go in and buy more credits when you need them, ie no long-term commitment. Credits are valid for 30 days.
As a member, you also get access to discounts from our amazing partners and a newsletter with event info and more!
5. Why should one become a member of YOUBE?
We have sit/stand desks, shared tables, focus chairs and meeting pods. You can print at YOUBE, get a snack or beverage, you can get inspired and buy art that we display on the wall, check out our partner’s products and services, we have events and you will be part of an expansion throughout the city and beyond!
6. What is something you would have liked to have known before starting YOUBE?
That is a really good question. The word MVP didn’t quite resonate with me as we were moving from concept to implementation. There were things we wanted to get implemented that had to be pushed to future phases due to timing, budget or other reasons. Now I understand what an MVP is and how important it is to build from that solid place.
From the YOUBE Office.
Photo Courtesy: Keith Kleiner.
7. What advice would you give to someone who’s starting a new business?
Goals: Believe in your end goal and aligning on short-term and long-term goals with your partners if you have them. An example is that we stuck with the plan of opening up a drop-in co-working space with a focus on hot desks during a pandemic where people did not want to be close to strangers.
Flexibility: Capacity to listen to each other (or friends if you don’t have partners) and keep an open and flexible mind. We were working for months on closing a deal downtown. We loved the space and had pretty much ‘moved in’ mentally. However, the lease fell through on a few points and we decided to move on. If we hadn’t done that, we probably wouldn’t have opened up in West Adams just yet – and we are so happy we did! Everything happens for a reason.
Intuition: Trust your intuition in business when hiring people, signing a new vendor, making decisions… the gut will know it before your mind does. We all benefit from listening to that inner voice. It definitely becomes clear to you when you don’t listen to that inner voice and things don’t go as you hoped they would.
8. What do you think is important for a good working environment? Describe your ideal working place.
I love flexibility – or hybrid solutions as they say these days. No matter where I sit, I will get weary after a while and will need a change of environment to stay focused, inspired and productive. I love moving between my home office, my backyard, YOUBE, a café, or a friend’s house.
At YOUBE I move between products – I use a sit/stand desk for a while. I love standing up during the day. Then I pop into a meeting pod for a phone call or meeting, then a focus chair to meditate or read. I also love being able to sit outside so we try to get outdoor seating at each YOUBE location.
9. When are you most productive?
When I’m inspired. You know when you end up in that flow and time passes without you noticing it. I enjoy creating things – both during the concept phase and implementation. I like creating with other people, ideas can bounce off of each other, we can draw inspiration from one area and implement it to another. There is so much to learn and a huge reward to see ideas take a physical form and share them with the community.
10. Do you notice anything in your way of working that is “typical Swedish”?
Haha! Oh, yes… Swedes are very efficient and ambitious. We are thorough yet we work pretty fast. That is also how my first American boss described Swedes when I worked in New York many moons ago. We are wonderful employees, but we can get a bit frustrated when we feel deliveries aren’t done as quickly as we were hoping for, or when the attention to detail is not where it should be – but then there is room to learn how to let go a little and to find beauty in imperfections, right? No matter where we are – we can always learn from other people and grow as human beings.
11. What do you miss the most about Sweden?
My friends and family, birch trees, the wind biting on my cheeks, the sound from walking in the snow, winter lights in the windows, the bread options, the archipelago and the health care system.
12. Do you have a “must visit” place in LA?
Yes, but I have to pick 3.
– Walk or ride a bike along the beach. I recently moved to Redondo Beach and I love walking down towards Palos Verdes with that beautiful view in front of me.
– Local farmers market for the best fresh produce you will ever find. The one in Hollywood is amazing.
– Long Beach Flea Market.
From the YOUBE Office.
Photo Courtesy: Keith Kleiner.
Five Fast Ones with Jenny
Work from Home or from the YOUBE Office?
Read a Book or Watch a Movie?
Swedish Fashion Style or LA Style?
Night or Morning?
Music Concert or a Sports Game?