Oliver Alexander started the co-working space (Remote.ly) just over a year ago on March 7, 2019. They were just beginning to turn a profit, hitting the black for the first time in February 2020. Then Covid-19 hit and their momentum was wiped out. The Federal PPP and EIDL programs helped them survive. Now Remote.ly is looking forward to reopening their doors as Multnomah County enters Phase I of reopening, but things will look very different for Oliver and his customers. This is the story of how Remote.ly is building resilience during challenging times.
Oliver, what is Remote.ly? Remote.ly offers commitment-free workspace featuring guaranteed seating/outlets, free in-house barista, stunning views, and more - for just $20/day. For those who need space more often Remote.ly also offers private offices, monthly memberships, and hourly conference room rentals for small businesses.
What have you been doing to keep your business going through the shut-down brought on by conditions around the Coronavirus pandemic? When the pandemic hit we had to completely close except for members who have dedicated offices with 24-7 key access. We lost some dedicated office clients due to Covid. They were going to move in just about when Covid hit, but backed out.
We are not sure what’s going to happen in the co-working space in the months to come. I think we will see a slow recovery. Long term, we expect to see a rise in our day pass sales due to the large number of people working from home and wanting to get out of the house for a day or two a week.
We had just added two additional floors to our space in North Portland prior to the Coronavirus break out. We had landed tenants in those dedicated offices space. We built a large event space on one of the floors, but of course that is no longer accessible due to gathering restrictions. We have been rearranging that space and now have a smaller space able to host up to 10 people with social distancing. We will be able to host up to 25 people in Phase I, and there aren't many spaces that size in the Portland area. We have also created a product called Dedicated Desk Plus. It's similar to our regular dedicated desk space, but has bigger desks and features plastic privacy screens for social distancing. We have upgraded the HVAC system. We are taking a ton of precautions so that when we are able reopen, the spaces will be as safe as they can reasonably be.
How has the services of the PCC SBDC helped you overcome the challenges? We worked with Noah Brockman and the Capital Access Team (CAT Team) to get EIDL and PPP loans. Noah helped us apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) when it was first announced. We didn’t get accepted for the PPP in first go around. I think our business model is so unique that we didn't fit neatly into any box. Noah connected me with a list of other banks that were accepting applications and we found one that would take us on. He also kept us in the loop with news and resources as things changed with these programs.
You recently received the "40 Under 40" Award from the Portland Business Journal. How did that come about? That was probably the only fun part of the last couple of months. I graduated from the University of Oregon and was asked to be a guest speaker at a healthcare event because of my other business (Orchid Health). They found out about Remote.ly and asked if they could nominate me for both businesses. And I won! 40 under 40 is an award given by the Portland Business Journal, and recognizes the region’s most promising leaders and innovators in different areas. I'm looking forward to the awards luncheon in December if we are able to have those kinds of gatherings by then.
What would you say to other small business owners thinking of working with the SBDC? Go for it! I want to give a big thank you to Noah and PCC SBDC Director Tammy Marquez-Oldham. They have been so helpful. The SBDC is good to have in your corner!