After finding success with a unique coworking concept in Israel, Omer Granit, CEO and co-founder of MIXER, has chosen Washington, D.C., for the company’s first U.S. location.
The firm is putting the finishing touches on its debut D.C. location, MIXER Rowhouse, which will be located at 600 Massachusetts Avenue NW. The 300,000-square-foot space will feature MIXER’s signature combination of coworking space with a novel blend of amenities.
After fighting on the battlefields in the Arab-Israeli war, Granit pursued an education in law and business, was admitted to the New York Bar and Israel Bar, and held several corporate investment positions.
But he wanted to do something more and worked with a childhood friend to develop MIXER, which opened its first location in Israel three years ago. Since then, the company has opened three more locations and recently received more than $40 million from investors to expand the concept internationally.
Commercial Observer spoke to Granit about the MIXER concept, its D.C. expansion plans and why coworking spaces are here to stay.
Commercial Observer: Take me through the genesis of MIXER.
Omer Granit: MIXER was born of an idea I had with my childhood friend, Eyal Naveh. Based on some professional experiences we both had, we were excited about the coworking concept, and saw an opportunity to provide a better, one-of-a-kind solution for companies operating in today’s tech driven economy … In 2016, we teamed up with our friends Dror Katzir and Ziv Sapir to open the first MIXER in Tel Aviv, Israel.
How is the company unique and different from some of the other coworking space options out there?
MIXER is about more than just a comfortable workspace; we offer the ultimate blend of business and leisure. Today’s workforce no longer maintains strict boundaries between work, home and play. In recognition of this, we wanted to create a place with high-end spaces that blend the various elements of our daily lives — work, technology, design, wellness, food and leisure. The name MIXER refers to this concept, mixing the many elements of peoples’ lives.
For instance, our first U.S. location — MIXER Rowhouse, opening early 2020 — will provide its members with a five-star hotel experience including a luxury gym, high-end business lounge, private rooftop and an exclusive events space where we’ll feature pop-up restaurant experiences alongside a diverse range of talks, trainings and networking opportunities.
Why did you decide to bring this concept to D.C.?
D.C. is the nucleus of America and is bursting with unmatched energy and passion. The business community here is so diverse — from politicos to think tanks to international organizations to startups. Kind of like our MIXER communities. It was an obvious choice. We are thrilled to join the D.C. community and look forward to contributing to the growth and innovation that make it such a special place.
What specifically about this area makes it a strong fit?
Interestingly, D.C. has a long tradition of offering flexible workspace. The concept flourished here for many years before WeWork made it trendy. In many ways, the marketplace is more familiar with the benefits of coworking than some other cities.
It’s also a city with unique needs that we hope will make an offering like ours very enticing. Most companies in America, and globally for that matter, do business in D.C. but they likely don’t all have a physical presence in the city. Offering companies flexibility and access to a high-end, centrally located space with all of the possible amenities their employees might need, including a built-in community in which to network, seems like a winning proposition.
What sort of success have you seen with this concept so far?
This is our first location outside of Israel. But we’ve seen an incredible response there to what we offer. For instance, we sold out of space in our most recent location before we even opened. WIX.com, a DIY website platform, took the entire City Garden site in Tel Aviv.
What sort of tenants are you targeting for the D.C. location?
Our members represent a diverse tenant mix including startups, midsize companies, entrepreneurs, and Fortune 500 companies. Any company who needs the flexibility to scale up or down, while still providing their employees with a competitive work experience and leveraging the benefits that come from a diversified environment would find our offerings appealing.
How do the community managers work? What is their responsibility?
We very intentionally hire community managers with a hospitality background. For instance, our D.C. general manager, Artur Samofalov, came to us in part from the local restaurant scene. His job is to ensure that our community is vibrant, thriving and cared for. He’ll offer our members 24-hour concierge service including planning events, managing social media, and providing local recommendations and referrals.
What is the chief selling point? Why do companies like working with you?
We offer businesses the ability to provide the Google experience to their employees without having to have Google’s revenue stream and massive infrastructure. Think of us as the Four Seasons of the coworking industry.
You have an interesting background. What made you want to get into this field?
Co-founding MIXER is the culmination of many of my professional experiences. I’ve been a soldier, a lawyer, an investment banker and a hedge fund manager. I’ve lived and worked all over the world and have had the privilege of meeting so many talented people doing interesting things. In many ways, all of those experiences and people helped shape the MIXER concept.
We’ve talked a lot about flexibility and the workplace experience. But I also should mention the innovation that is a direct result of a collaborative, diversified environment. Even major enterprises acknowledge that disruption almost never comes from big corporate campuses. This is why many large companies — like Samsung — take their creative teams out of corporate buildings and office them in a multidisciplinary coworking environment.
What else do you want people to know?
The coworking model is here to stay, regardless of the ebb and flow of specific companies. The number of coworking spaces in the U.S. grew from 300 in 2010 to nearly 4,000 in 2017. In the last 18 months alone, coworking accounted for one-third of new office leases. Our mission is to offer not just optimized office space, but a new business experience. The concept of work and where it takes place is changing. Companies need to adapt or go bust.