Written by Andrew Seale
Over the years Justin Raymond has developed a fixation on how people get to and from work.
“I've always been obsessed with the commute,” he says. “The commute is, to me, one of the biggest problems in cities around the world and has so many negative impacts on people's time, families, stress… it clogs up city highways and causes environmental issues.”
And yet there seems to be no real tangible solution besides long-term transportation planning. “Adding lanes to highways doesn't work, putting more trains at faster speeds doesn't work.”
So Raymond decided to point his transportation problem-solving expertise at it. The answer lies in proximity, he says. “We believe neighbourhood workspaces, working closer to home, having highly functional spaces around the corner, is the solution to the commute.”
With Flexday, launched last year, Raymond and his team are working to transform restaurants into fully-outfitted co-working space during the daytime hours.
“The goal is to allow people to always find (workspaces) where they have enterprise-grade wifi, a hot cup of coffee or tea, and power throughout the establishment,” he says. Membership is $49 per person, per month, and gives them a spot at 14 Flexday locations throughout Toronto including Marben, The Cloak Bar, The Anne Boleyn, The Beverley Hotel, Locus144, C'est What?, the Wickson Social, Prohibition and Pray Tell.
The goal is to have 50 locations by the end of the year.
“We want to start to branch out and connect neighbourhoods and outlying areas across the city to start to test uptake around avoiding the commute and working closer to home,” he says. “The big opportunity for us is to get above the subway lines.”
Raymond says he took a “funded sandbox” approach to build Flexday. “I had some people invest alongside myself and give me some time to work on a massive problem and come out of that with a solution and a go-to-market plan,” he says. “From a mentor standpoint, I talked to a lot of people in the community and got their input, and some investors as well.”
But the Flexday founder is no stranger to Toronto’s tech scene. He’s built a slew of technology companies in the space including taxi hailing platform Hailo Canada.
“That's who I am, I'm an entrepreneur… I spot problems and come at it until I have a solution,” he says. And Toronto is his playground of sorts. “I started with city-centric challenges and then grew them to national solutions and then into North American solutions and now for Flex Day, this is a global opportunity.”
The growing volume of startups and entrepreneurs vying for space to work in the city present a considerable chance for growth. “Whether it's co-working or fixed office leases – people don't have a lot of great options right now,” he adds. “Most workers today moving about town want the basics, they want value… and this is what Flexday is providing: price and proximity to locations with all of their needs met.”
Photo Credit: Cameron Bartlett (www.snappedbycam.com)