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Bruno Freitas, Executive Partner at Plug, one of São Paulo’s hottest places to work

Bruno Freitas This month we had the chance to connect with Bruno Freitas and the awesome crew at Plug in São Paulo, Brazil. In the past three years Plug has grown from a single fledgling coworking space to one of the coolest places to work in Brazil, hands down. Home to companies like Uber and Virgin, Plug is seriously redefining how businesses work, collaborate and grow in Brazil.

You guys were voted one of the 9 coolest offices to work at in São Paulo by the European The Next Web portal and listed as one of the 4 best coworking spaces in Brazil by Microsoft Spark. What’s your secret sauce?

Yeah, we’re totally humbled by all the accolades. It’s pretty crazy how we’ve gone from a cool idea amongst a bunch of guys in São Paulo’s tech scene to where we are now.

Our secret sauce?

Man, it’s been a lot of hard work just putting this all together. They say entrepreneurship and running a business is difficult, but I don’t think you really appreciate how difficult it is until you’re actually doing it and living it. Overall, I think it’s been our no bullshit approach to who we are, how we operate and how we all interact within this constantly evolving and growing community we call Plug. We look at Plug as a space of collision and chances, and an ecosystem where these businesses cannot only grow for themselves, but grow together as a community of businesses–learning from one another and contributing to each other’s success.

What is the coworking space industry like in Brazil? What kinds of companies are occupying space in São Paulo?

I think the rest of the world knows us for being laid back—Carnival, beaches, soccer—but from a business perspective the Brazilian workplace is surprisingly conservative. The way organizations conduct business is based on formality and tradition, and even now the majority of businesses are very “suit and tie, 9-to-5.

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Around 5 to 7 years ago, you had these startups come along existing and operating against the grain, and you can only imagine the friction. There’s the old saying that “you have to know the right people,” and in Brazil that’s especially true. For businesses to succeed, you need to know people who will help you or connect you with the right network so that you can get the resources you need to move your business along.

It was extremely tough for startups to connect and network because, to established Brazilian businesses, they were a foreign, if not risky, concept.

I think this hostility and friction that startups originally faced created the opportunity for coworking spaces like ours to exist. Basically, we were this haven where they could not only work, but everybody knew somebody. Suddenly we were this networking hub where startups could get connected to people who could help them.

Today, it’s really evolved. For example, coworking and alternative work spaces are growing in popularity in São Paulo. We have companies like Uber and Virgin working out of our offices, which has been really great because of the knowledge share they provide to the startups and growth stage businesses working here.

You guys recently adopted ShareDesk Optix (yay!) How is technology, in your view, helping coworking spaces like yours?

It’s a fundamental part of our operations and front-end customer service success. For example, with Optix we gained a whole new understanding of our day-to-day operations because it helped us see how our space was being used.

There’s 41 companies that use spaces between our three locations on a permanent recurring basis. Beyond that though, we have a lot of people who book space for a day, a week, a month or indefinitely. With Optix we can really see how space is being used in this dynamic booking environment. Whatever space is open, we can update its availability in real-time so that we’ making the most of every desk and meeting room that we have.

It also gives us an intimate perspective on how our members use our space. For example, Optix allows us to connect all our members on its online chat portal. Through it we hear about all the small issues or “wish we hads” in real-time, which allows us to get to it right away. I think this is something our members really appreciate, and from a business standpoint, has contributed to our success.

With Optix it’s just a lot smoother and easier.

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Caipirinha or Gin and Tonic?

I’m an IPA dude man. IPA all day.

About the ShareDesk Blog Series ‘The Future of Work With…’

‘The Future of Work With…’ is a blog series profiling members of the ShareDesk community. We are speaking with our diverse network of entrepreneurs, business travelers, industry thought leaders, freelancers, and flexible workplace operators, and sharing their stories and experiences on how they dream up a more flexible future for work.

Are you part of the ShareDesk community and have an interesting story to share? Contact us.