Imagine a co-working space specially designed for parents: where an experienced nanny can supervise your child while you work uninterrupted without the possibility of a cute but rogue toddler busting in on your Skype call.
It sounds like the kind of thing you’d only have access to if you worked for a big corporate like Optus or Qantas (both companies have on-site creches for employees). Well, Premium member Camilla Goucher is making it a reality with her social enterprise, The Wonder Hub.
Like many new parents, Camilla and co-founder (and husband) Justin, found themselves reassessing their careers and priorities after starting a family. Camilla previously worked in corporate venture capital and used her maternity leave to make good on her desire to escape the daily 9-5 grind.
“When I had an exciting business idea, we started to think about how we might turn our ideal lifestyle into a reality. I soon realised I would need some regular, uninterrupted time to work on the business and I wanted Isla to have regular social play dates,” says Camilla.
“This was easier said than done as the costs involved in creating the start-up were hard enough to juggle as a family without adding the cost of childcare. So, we launched The Wonder Hub.”
The duo are about to launch their first mobile co-working space with an onsite creche in the Woollahra Library in Sydney’s Double Bay. The initiative kicks off on May 9 for six weeks. The half day co-working sessions are suitable for entrepreneurs, small business owners, consultants, online learners and any parent who wants some time to focus and be productive.
The low fees, a one-week starter pass costs $55 for 3.5 hours, are designed for those who are looking for a low-cost, high-quality child minding solution before they are ready or able to commit to permanent childcare solutions. We grabbed a few minutes of Camilla’s time to chat with her about the project.
Tell us how it all came about.
As working parents know, having a set time during daylight hours where you can work or study, is highly sought after! No more staying up to midnight or waking up before your child wakes up. It helps to set parents up for success. Not to mention the benefits the child gains from participating in a fun and social activity.
The Wonder Hub helps new parents in a very practical way by giving them the space they need to get stuff done. We firmly believe in the benefits of working flexibly for everyone’s sake. The employee, employer, and the family.
We hope The Wonder Hub will be able to support and encourage more new parents to become entrepreneurs, small business owners, freelancers, flexible workers or embark on career changing enhancing study. The barriers to participate in these activities are high when you have young children especially as it is at a time when household income is reduced.
What kind of community reaction have you received so far?
We have been blown away by the encouragement and support we have received at this very early stage. We have had over 60 location requests from around the country and counting.
Our first Wonder Sessions are running for six weeks from May 9th to June 13th at Woollahra Library at Double Bay. So we are actively looking for the very first group of Wonder Hubbers to pioneer the concept!
When I looked at your site, I knew straight away I’d be comfortable taking my children (5, and 2) there. How did you communicate that online?
The Wonder Hub is designed to be an authentic, collaborative and supportive environment where members and children can feel relaxed. We want it to be the type of place parents can just rock up to without a whole bunch of preparation – chuck on some yoga pants, hair in a mum bun… that type thing!
The Wonder Hub was created primarily with our parent hats on rather than our business hats on. We actually designed the whole concept around our own genuine needs and the genuine needs of different mums and dads in my parent’s group.
There was Pheebs who works and studies, Annie who has three children and is studying, Maryam and Michael who both want to use The Wonder Hub when they work flexibly. Having these real users in mind from the start has helped us design The Wonder Hub in a very human way.
How did you come up with the pricing model?
We see The Wonder Hub a bit like going out for dinner with friends and then all splitting the bill at the end! Only, in this case, the Wonder Host doesn’t have to pay, and the tip goes to The Wonder Hub!
The whole premise of The Wonder Hub is that it is here to help families, so we will always keep the costs as low as possible. We are genuinely excited to see what people do with their time at The Wonder Hub and the impact it will have for their family and more broadly.
The Wonder Hub is a social enterprise. We aim to maximise our community impact while sustaining a viable business. A major part of this will be our promise to always keep our fees as low as possible for our members and operating with the mindset of a community service.
We love the philosophy of giving first and having this mindset when launching The Wonder Hub has really helped to unlock the idea’s potential for us.
Are you planning on more locations throughout Australia? What are the next steps?
We have had over 60 locations requested so far! We are actively working on bringing The Wonder Hub to Bondi Beach and Bondi Junction. We are looking for venue partners at the moment who are interested in having The Wonder Hub at their venue on a regular basis.
Our goal is to have Wonder Hubs located all across Australia, run by local “Wonder Hosts,” empowered by an efficient IT platform and strong partnerships with forward-thinking community and/or corporate venues.
The Wonder Hub is currently a Sydney-based initiative, to register your interest, request a location near you or for more information, check out the website here.
Connect with Camilla here.