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This Cairo Co-Working Space is in a Race Against Time, and So Far it's Winning

In only six months since its inception, CO-55 had already rented out 60% of its office spaces.

The iconic wall of CO-55's shared space.

Egypt is blossoming with the fastest-growing startup ecosystem in the Middle East, and we're not just sugarcoating words; those are the facts from a Magnitt report published in 2018. Barely making rent, however, many emerging entrepreneurs are wrestling with commercial real estate in Cairo. In this economy, if your startup hasn't failed already, logic says not to rush into renting or buying property. That is why working remotely and co-working spaces have become an essential part of the fast-paced beehive this ecosystem has become.

To emphasize further on the depth of the market demand, a quite picturesque co-working space in the heart of East Cairo has been making waves in this industry - already discussing expansion deals in less than a year since its inception. Between the dullness of corporate offices and the distractions of coffee shops, CO-55 opens its doors to provide individuals, startups, and established companies with everything from kitchen services to high-speed internet, and - above all - peace of mind.

The 1200-square-metre co-working space is grinding with 20 private offices up its sleeve. With sizes ranging from 10 to 30 square metres, each room is equipped with chairs, tables, a storage cabinet, an independent landline and a corresponding Wi-Fi router. In just six months, 12 emerging startups signed private office leases with CO-55, enjoying all the perks that come with the space. 

"We aim to have different industries operating from CO-55 to have a diversified community of startups and companies," co-founder Ahmed Selim tells Cairo Scene. "We try to limit the number of companies working in the same industry so that we are able to reach this goal of diversification."

The 12 startups CO-55 is housing (some of which aren't even Egyptian) in their private offices are Jinni, Everest Minds, Going Infinity, SDEX, Empire Markets, IG Academy, Lemonspaces, RACK Advertising, Little Blessings, Mackedzone, and Traffic.

Community is the core of CO-55's philosophy. When it's not bustling with community events, the shared space between the iconic "willpower" and "collaborate" walls is usually filled with hot desks waiting to be occupied with solo entrepreneurs and freelancers who also have access to 20 lockers to safely store their personal belongings. 

Remote workers, solo-entrepreneurs, and freelancers will never get bored or run out of ideas at CO-55. In fact, CO-55 is a perfect remedy for writer’s block. The colours, shapes, and greenery at the shared space all breathe unity and exhale harmony to fill you with the passion and motivation needed to get the job done. Other companies operating from the shared space with unlimited packages include MarineHub from Dubai, BlaBla, and Tiara agencies.

The co-working space also houses an event room, fitting up to 30 people. There are also three meeting rooms; two fitting up to five people and the big one fitting up to 12. Each room enjoys its own landline to ensure that Wi-Fi connectivity is of high and smooth quality.

CO-55 aspires to build a community of co-workers who share a common ground: growth. “The initial investment required to fully furnish a representable office is huge and comes with more liabilities. Therefore, co-working is tailored for startups to survive and thrive.”

Ahmed and his two sisters, Norhan and Farah Selim, have built this leafy hub to potentially embrace a cohort that would represent a handful of different interrelated industries. The inviting interior allows CO-55’s tenants to exchange ideas, services, and even – on a larger scale - collaborate on projects, pushing them to grow together.

The Selim siblings wanted to break the norm of dull offices carrying no "lively" feel. When brainstorming, all they thought about was colours, greenery, and warm materials. "When we briefed TWO EMMS, the designers, they came back to us with the idea of using a fusion of raw materials such as wood, glass, marble, concrete, greens and paint in basic colours to experiment," explains Norhan. "This experimental design concept somehow resembles the lives of entrepreneurs, founders of SME's and startups who experiment a lot during their initial phases until reaching the best results."

The sibling founders also partnered with startups like Woo for their iconic branding, Mobica for their minimalist furniture, and Jinni for the cleaning services. But at CO-55, partnerships don't stop there. Just as they expected, ongoing partnerships are thriving among their tenants, or as they call themselves, "CO-tenants." RACK Advertising, for example, is already sealing deals with many of its neighbouring CO-tenants.

"Our vision is to benchmark the concept of co-working in Egypt by raising the bar high; in terms of standards of design, services and facilities, and community," says Farah. "As we are part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Egypt, we also want to be part of the success of startups and companies working from CO-55 by playing a small yet significant role in each of their futures."

Head to Facebook and Instagram for more on CO-55.

The content of this article is sponsored.