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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Ohio’s COhatch adds Charlotte coworking pioneer hygge

Garrett Tichy started his hygge coworking business in Charlotte in 2015 when there were two other similar operations in the city. Both are gone, while hygge has built a five-location business that has survived the pandemic and has experienced significant growth.

Now, hygge is joining Columbus, Ohio-based COhatch, which has 34 coworking spaces in four states. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. COhatch, which was formed in 2015, expects to add as many as 10 new sites in the Queen City, with other new locations planned in Raleigh, Georgia and Tennessee

Tichy discussed his business in this interview. (By the way, hygge is a Danish term for coziness and comfortable conviviality, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.)

Why sell now?

If the goal is to bring more people to coworking, then this is a logical next step. I could keep growing slowly over the next few years, but partnering with COhatch puts both businesses in a better place to scale into new markets. The connected communities mindset brings better resources to my team as well as the membership base as a whole. On top of that, I’ve had the opportunity to partner with other brands before, and this is the first one that truly got me excited. It felt right. It was time.

How much real estate do you own?

I don’t own any of the real estate that hygge operates out of. We have great relationships with all five of our owners. I’d attribute some of our survival to having landlords who understand our business and with whom I have a personal relationship with.

How has hygge been funded?

Hygge has been self-funded since day one. We have no outside investors or partners. I’ve always taken the approach of making money and then spending money. Once the current establishment makes enough money, we use that money to expand.

Is Hygge’s business back to pre-Covid levels?

We’re back to pre-Covid and some. The move to remote work has amplified our business.

What was the key to surviving the pandemic?

We’ve always run lean and I don’t overextend myself. I’ve looked at 100 buildings but we are in only five for a reason. You can end up with a whole bunch of buildings that make you look big, but you don’t make any money.

Is Charlotte a good coworking town? 

Yes, and it’s only getting better. The population is exploding. It is still comparatively affordable. A lot of people landed here in the pandemic. It’s a heavy remote workforce city, it seems. We’re finding a lot of new members are looking to get connected.

How will this change your work and life?

There’s a lot to be determined there. It’s important to ensure that Charlotte continues to operate as it has. COhatch recognizes that we have something special that can be disrupted. We’re leaning into the new resources and team members we have to ensure operations keep going if not improve across the board.

It’s exciting to have a bigger team and a depth of knowledge in the industry. It’s made us better already. As for me, I’ll play a bigger role in expansion across the South East. I’m committed to my original vision, which was to bring a human aspect to the place people work. This just lets me/us do it on a bigger scale. I’ve always wanted to be multi-market. I just couldn’t figure it out. Now it’s all obtainable and I get to do it alongside others that get it. That’s exciting and too good to pass up.

What impressed you about CEO Matt Davis and others at COhatch?

I know this is going to sound super generic, but they just get it. They understand the secret sauce of the business is the human aspect. If they genuinely put people first, the business and profits will follow. In a business where this feels obvious, there are quite a few bigger brands that miss this in just the most egregious way. Matt and crew started just like me and continue to scale without sacrificing the human element.

David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at dmildenberg@businessnc.com.

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