Nisha Garigarn is the cofounder of Croissant, a membership based app that gives you access to thousands of seats in coworking spaces around the world. Croissant is on mission to make every day inspiring for digital workers. They help you focus on building the next big thing — instead of buying that next croissant just to keep your seat in the coffee shop.
We hope you enjoy getting to know Nisha and how she paved the way to launching her own business (from a coffee shop, so you don't have to) in her twenties!
Location: Brooklyn, NY (primarily)
Creating The Swell
How did the idea for your business come about and what were you doing prior?
My cofounders and I were working on a completely different business idea. We all lived in different parts of New York City and we’d want to meet up in Manhattan to collaborate on the evenings and weekends. It was really frustrating trying to find a place to work together. Coffee shops would be crowded and it’d be difficult to find a table. And if we did find one, wifi was spotty and we kept having to buy coffees and croissants because we felt guilty for staying for several hours. We looked into coworking spaces also, but paying hundreds of dollars per person for a space to work a few times weekly seemed extravagant. We thought that there should be an easier way to find a place to work in the city!
What was the biggest motivator to launch your own business?
I wanted to learn how to launch sometime on my own and wanted more flexibility in my work. I also was kinda realizing that I wasn’t passionate about my job and wanted to try something new! The stars seemed to align.
How did you go about acquiring your first coworking spaces and your first customers?
We took the phrase “do things that don’t scale” seriously! For coworking spaces, we literally went door to door and talked to potential partners. These conversations with space operators helped with our product development too.
As for first customers, we hit the ground running with the New York City startup scene. We were creating a product that we, as startup founders, wanted to use. So it made sense that we’d spread the word to fellow early stage startup founders. We went to local events and conference, got on all the newsletters, got local press, etc. and were laser focused on that niche for several months before even considering other cities or industries.
Riding The Wave
What is a typical day like for you?
Lately, I’ve been starting my days with a cup of coffee/tea and journaling. I feel more refreshed after getting out all my random floating thoughts on paper. My daily work changes a lot, but usually it’s in the realm of marketing and/or design. Today, for instance, I designed and sent out an email newsletter, and had some phone calls with potential community partners. I love switching up my workspace, so sometimes I’m working from my living room and other times at coffee shops or Croissant coworking spaces. Sometimes I do all three in one day!
How do you generate new ideas?
We frequently have whiteboard brainstorming sessions as a team. Usually these sessions are focused on a specific business challenge and we all just come up with a brain dump of fresh ideas we can try. It’s helpful to have everyone focused on a single challenge, and by the end, we’ll usually have a solid game plan!
How do you go about finding new coworking spaces to add to the Croissant network?
We have been working with freelancers in target cities to help us build relationships with potential coworking space partners. We call them our City Managers, and they help us vet and meet with spaces in person, take photos, feature spaces on our social media, and more. Because our City Managers are locals, they’re able to speak the native language and have more context about the local coworking ecosystem.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Word of mouth is (by far!) how most folks hear of us. We try hard to make our product simple and delightful to use, as well as try to provide excellent customer support, so that members feel excited to confidently share Croissant with friends and colleagues. We also offer a free week trial so it’s easy to get started without commitment
What were/are some of your biggest challenges? How do you go about tackling them?
Expanding to new cities is a challenge. As I mentioned, many of our customers come from word of mouth, which is awesome in cities where we are well known. However, kickstarting that word of mouth is tough and can take a while. We tackle these challenges by launching new experiments often to find new opportunities.
Did you ever experience failure? What did you learn from it?
As a team, we don’t like to think of any experiences as failures, just learning opportunities! There are definitely times that we tried something that didn’t work out as well as expected. But that’s okay! As long as we are tracking the results of our experiments and understanding their impact, it’s all helping us grow and learn at the end of the day.
Time For a Siesta
What do you do to relax?
I love hanging out in pretty coffee shops! Usually on the weekend you can find me at one of these, reading a good book, journaling, or catching up with friends. I’ve been trying to take advantage of the warm summer weather in New York by walking around the city, or sitting outdoors with a glass of wine and just people watch.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and who was it from?
I was feeling down about something or another that happened that day, and my cofounder Dave reassured me that I’m doing the best I can. I really like this little piece of advice. It’s easy for me to be hard on myself for not doing “better”, so I try to remind myself often that I’m doing my best with what I have.
Enjoying The View
What is your favorite part of running your own business?
The flexibility is a major plus. I get to use the gym in the middle of the day when it’s completely empty. Or work outside in the park on sunny days! Last summer, I spent six months traveling and working remotely around Europe. Since then, we’ve added a ton of new coworking space partners in cities like Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Barcelona, and more. I hope to do another trip soon to try em all. It’s so fun and inspiring to work from difference spaces!
What’s next for Croissant? Any exciting news or updates to share?
We are quickly expanding around the world, so hopefully you’ll see Croissant in your city soon, wherever you are! We recently added conference room booking in our app to make it easier for our members to grab a private room at coworking spaces. We are currently working on a seamless way to add your teammates and friends to cowork with you as part of a team.
Bonus: Fun In The Sun
Favorite show to binge watch?
I don’t really watch shows because I have an addictive personality and used to binge watch shows I don’t even care about just to find out what happens. Then I would hate myself afterwards. I do have MoviePass and watch movies frequently. The last movie I saw was Sorry To Bother You and I loved it.
Favorite coffee shop and go-to order?
There’s so many excellent coffee shops in New York that it’s hard to pick a favorite. I love Brooklyn Roasting Co in DUMBO — they have high ceilings, with huge sunny windows and exposed brick walls. And it’s also right on the water. I always go for an iced latte with oat milk. I’m currently obsessed with oat milk.
Pick 2: Coffee, LaCroix, Favorite Cocktail
Coffee and LaCroix!
Fin! Thank you, Nisha!
If you're a digital worker interested in trying Croissant, join here to get your first week free. If you own a company and your employees travel a lot for their role you can inquire about team plans here. Croissant helps ensure your employees always have a reliable and inspiring place to work from, no matter where they are.
Wave Makers was created to highlight women who are making waves in their business lives. We hope these interviews are a personable and fun way to inspire and encourage other women to follow their dreams and make $h*t happen!
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