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Meet Mike Thakur of The Work Lodge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Thakur.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I worked from home for a number of years before realizing that despite the phone based interaction, the lack of true human interaction and engagement combined with the minimal movement (walking from the bedroom to my home office doesn’t really count as exercise!) was just not healthy.

As I worked for a Security Company specializing in sensitive areas the whole Starbucks thing just wasn’t an option as I needed quiet, private space to speak on the phone. After looking at some Executive Suite type spaces I was so underwhelmed by what I saw that I figured there had to be a way to build something better, bigger, brighter and more dynamic while scaling to the point that the costs remain affordable.

The idea of working around other people even though they weren’t coworkers within my business was just too exciting to ignore. So I started the journey of figuring out how to build what we now call The Work Lodge.

We started small and even through the initial construction, we realized that we actually had a BIG idea so we stopped, took more space and started again. We launched our first location with over 100 office suites right out of the gate and it’s been amazing.

Incredible members, encouraging relationships, it’s just been humbling to be able to touch so many lives in some small way as they’re on their journey of Entrepreneurship and business ownership.

Our 2nd location opened 2 years later (June 2017) and we’re working on our 3rd.

We’ve been ranked as one of the top coworking spaces in Texas, one of the trendiest workspaces in Houston and I frequently speak on panels to talk about the changes happening in the 21st Century workplace.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Overall, it’s been pretty smooth. Sure, there’s been some challenges but thankfully, not unforeseen challenges. Planning and preparation have definitely helped as well as almost 20 years of previous business related experiences (I’ve started 2 other businesses and 2 non-profits over the years as well as working for multiple, international businesses).

Perhaps the biggest hurdle has been trying to find the perfect locations (I’m pretty particular) and great staff who would buy into the dream of what we’re doing and care about our Members and their businesses the way we need to. This isn’t some 9-5 clock in gig. We hustle night and day trying to find ways to improve service, connect member companies to each other in the hopes of encouraging new business opportunities and generally do better.

Overall, no worries really (except for the few sleepless nights before you open the doors when you’ve spent all the money and are waiting to start selling!).

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about The Work Lodge – what should we know?
We provide a business platform for local Entrepreneurs and out of town businesses to work from. Our one stop solution means you can walk in, plug in and be working from our shared, open workspace or from a private office suite in under 15 minutes.

We take care of everything so you focus on your business providing meeting and conference room space, staffed reception services and much more in our Class A locations.

We’re proud of (and actually measure OUR success in part by) the growth and success we’ve seen in our Member companies, some of whom have taken advantage of things like our complimentary business workshops, mentoring and coaching etc. One of our earliest members who was a brand new startup when we opened 2 years ago just moved out and into their own, purpose built lab with office suites as they’ve gone nationwide with their service offering. Another member moved out as she needed massage space which isn’t something we offer (we’re an office space provider after all!). As she left, she took time to let us know that the time spent at the Lodge had changed her thinking about business fundamentally. She’d never have taken the gamble on growing into bigger space had it not been for our environment helping her see that she could do it!

Although we lost them as a customer, we see it as winning!

We’re also proud of our continual challenging to our members to be generous. It’s one of our Core Values and we live it every single day through the Gabriel Foundation, our non-profit that was established with the Work Lodge to enable us to give back to our community and beyond.

We’ve given away almost $1m of fresh food and produce each year since we started, and we just opened our first Orphanage for 50 children only a couple weeks ago! We dollar match all donations by our members to really make the most of what we can do.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I think over the years I’ve had countless managers, coworkers and even business partners who’ve each sown pieces of the puzzle into me that have made me the person I am today.

Strong support from my wife and family has definitely helped also as well as my faith and belief in what we’re doing (helping people live their dreams, become independent and create jobs successfully because of the support, infrastructure, and platform we’ve built) and why we’re doing it (to give away as much as possible, changing the lives of the few people we can touch for the better).

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Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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