Office Hours: I founded a company building the future of work and have been recognized by Fast Company and Forbes.Featured

Hi everyone! I’m Christelle, co-founder and CEO of Codi. Codi is the first company to offer access to daytime workspaces in private homes, giving people the opportunity to walk to work in their own neighborhoods. The service is designed for people who find it difficult to work from home, but aren't interested in commuting to a faraway office or coworking space. I founded Codi during my Master’s in City Planning at UC Berkeley in 2018. I was also a fellow at the Ellen MacArthur foundation, specialized on the circular economy. I also hold a Master of Science degree in Environmental Engineering from Ecole polytechnique, France. I’m obsessed with urban design, sustainability, local economies, and the future of work & cities.I was recently a featured honoree in Forbes 30 Under 30. Our work with Codi has been recognized by Fast Company in “World Changing Ideas 2019”, the San Francisco Business Times, Forbes, the State of Remote 2020 by Buffer and AngelList, and the City of Berkeley. Ask me about founding a company right out of college, staying mission-driven, growing a decentralized workforce, double-sided marketplaces, B2C and B2B, fundraising, building your founding team, city planning, remote work, and more!
Thanks so much for joining us @Christelle!Elphas – please ask @Christelle your questions before Friday, March 5th. @Christelle may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi! Congrats on Codi's success, I love the marriage of future-of-work and local economies. My question: As we (hopefully) emerge from Covid lockdowns and social distancing, how do you foresee the normalization of remote work changing, and will companies try to return to in-office or will they continue to embrace a decentralized (and sometimes asynchronous) workforce? Follow up: Will talent drive a continued remote-first future now that people can work from any city and make Bay Area salaries, or will companies be in control, wielding perk-filled offices and higher comp for in-person work?
Thanks for the question Ashley! I like how the economist David Autor puts it: remote work suffered from a “telephone problem.” Seven decades after the first telephone was patented in the 1860s, fewer than half of Americans owned one: you don't need one until your friends also own one. Behavior drags behind technology. Same is true for remote work: it took a global pandemic to have everyone on video calls and realize that remote work works. Surveys are numerous and quite clear: 72% to 96% of employees don't want to be back in an office... An other study has shown that 1 in 2 employees won't return to jobs that don't offer remote work. I think we're living a historic shift in the office power dynamics: if companies impose to return to the office 5 days a week, they will have a hard time attracting and retaining talent. They will also bear much heavier real-estate costs compared to distributed/remote-first companies. That being said, WFH is not a level-playing field, a lot of us suffer from isolation, burnout, and distractions at home. The best companies will come up with top employee benefits to truly support a location-agnostic workforce, and they will have a very strong competitive edge.
Can you tell us a bit more about the first few steps you took after initially having the idea? I feel like most of the info out there is about what happened after raising a seed round, but would love to know about the steps before that.. ie the steps you took to validate the idea, how did you build a product before the MVP (if you did) to try to test the idea, at what point you decided to find a technical founder (if you had one) etc?
Hi Ashley, very important question you're asking. I've bootstrapped the company for 6 months before finding my technical co-founder. Before building anything, it's important to make sure there's a real need for it: we initially spent time talking to remote workers in coffee shops, understanding their pain points and gauging their interest in using or hosting with Codi. Within a few weeks, we had a few hundred people on our waitlist... Then we manually reproduced what the Codi service would be like: we literally went to the homes of those who wanted to host, texted those who wanted to cowork, see if they wanted to join, and we'd welcomed them with bagels :) At the end of the day, we'd get their feedback and improve for the next session. When it became too complex logistically, I started to look for a CTO to build a real product!
This is so helpful, Christelle, thank you!
Hi @Christelle ! This may be an annoying question, but it's one I'm sure you've gotten outside of Elpha: What are your concerns with similar, larger companies like WeWork or even Airbnb stealing the idea of Codi? I feel like Airbnb would be more likely do to this, since they started expanding outside of vacation rentals even before the pandemic (they started offering local experiences too).
Hi Lauren, thanks for your question! Traditional coworking spaces are mostly clustered downtown in big cities, forcing people to commute, while Codi is in residential neighborhoods, easily walkable to. A company like WeWork has 20+ year leases in commercial spaces in downtown areas, they need to offset those costs by double downing on their existing buildings. Regarding other home-sharing companies like Airbnb, they have historically been focused on the same vertical: tourism. Airbnb experiences are about enhancing your trip as a tourist in a new city. Now I can't predict the future! Even if larger companies come into a similar space, Codi has a unique vision and mission - to spark the walk-to-work revolution and revitalize our local neighborhoods - and it drives us every single day.
Hi Christelle - I am curious, what is your best advice for presenting the future to investors? We are working on cutting edge tech and know this is sometimes hard to communicate.
Hi Rosi, thanks for your question. I'd say a live or video demo is always the best way to engage your audience without needing long explanations. If you need to send slides, try really hard to reduce the content to one bold and simple sentence with screenshots of your product. You can always go into the details during the demo or the call with them, at that moment be ready to show more detailed slides.
Hi Christelle! I am a college junior founding a company. But, I am struggling a lot with how I can structure a timeline and set goals for the startup in a productive and useful manner. Do you have any tips on how to do effectively?
Hi Dhara, first of all - congratulations! This is a very exciting journey you're embarking on. Something that has been useful for me is to set up quarterly OKRs ("Objectives and Key Results") - learn more here: the founder and CEO, you can define company-wide OKRs, typically no more than 3 objectives, with 3 key results within each objective. Example: Objective 1 - grow number of bookings. KR1: increase number of signups from x to y. KR2: increase % bookings within 7 days of sign-up from x to y. At the beginning of each quarter, you note how you're performing on each key result. At the end of each quarter, you look at the metric and assess how close you came to meeting your goal. It helps reflect on it and see what you can do better next time. Each team within your company can set their own quarterly OKRs, which need to align with your company-wide OKRs.
Thank you, Christelle! This is really helpful material and I look forward to implementing OKRs.
How do we join to office hours? Is this kind of a virtual meetup?
Hi Alara, you can just submit your questions, and I'll reply :)
Hi Christelle, thank you for your time. As a founder of a mission-driven start-up, how did you balance pricing, profits and rewarding your team?
Hi Kai, great question. I see Codi as an ecosystem with our internal Codi team, our hosts, members, partners, and advisors/investors. All those stakeholders are important and should thrive throughout your company journey. I try to understand what would make them happy to be part of Codi, and then balance those expectations across stakeholders. They are all connected: to be able to delight your users, you need a great team to execute the vision and money to develop and improve the service!
Thank you for taking the time to respond and share your insights, Christelle.
Hi Christelle! Thank you for your time! As the CEO, have you run into situations where maybe one of your teammates is not performing to your standards and you want them to step up and do more? Basically, how do you handle performance issues (if you have any) in an empowering and inspiring way?
Thanks for the question Tanya! This is always a tough situation. I'd recommend bringing it up in a 1:1 conversation with your teammate. Sometimes the responsibilities were not clearly defined when the person started and therefore, the expectations are misaligned and not well understood. You could propose an exercise where each of you write down what the responsibilities for the role are, and then compare your notes and discuss it together. That way, you end up with a shared understanding of the expectations for the position. I'd recommend being very clear about the standards you're referring to, and having that mentioned in that shared document. In your future 1:1s, I'd suggest to keep referring to the doc, making sure together that all expectations are met, and if not, setting clear measurable goals for your teammate. There's so much you can do. You need to be mindful about your business growth and your own time as well. If your teammate repeatedly fail meeting those objectives, you may unfortunately need to move on.
Don't have any questions, but just want to say 👋hi @Christelle !
thanks for being an awesome Codi host, Teresa!!
Hi Christelle,Thanks for taking your time to answer questions. My question is - Based on your experience, what advice would you give someone interested in building a double-sided marketplace?
Hi Jolleen! I highly recommend Lenny's posts on how to build a marketplace: He was an early operator at Airbnb, and collects insights from today's biggest marketplaces, including Airbnb, DoorDash, Thumbtack, Etsy, Uber and many more.
Thank you so much! I’ll definitely check it out.
Hi Christelle! I previously worked in the coworking industry as well and love the idea of remote teams, coworking to network/build communities around the individual when their team's spread out, etc. So excited to welcome you here!My question is how do you create team culture with a decentralized workforce? And continue to keep everyone engaged? EIther hosts or even just the core team.
Hi Georgette, thank you for the kind words! This is a great question. All the companies we talk with are asking the same exact question. I believe a great company culture is when employees feel strongly supported by their companies. Remote work is often confused with WFH, and most of us don't have the right conditions at home to feel balanced, productive, and engaged every day. Surveys have shown a reduced sense of belonging with WFH. For decentralized or remote-first companies, I believe providing workplace optionality in people's own neighborhoods is key. With our most recent enterprise partner, 100% of employees reported feeling more supported by their company with Codi. It helps create an equal opportunity workplace where everyone can be engaged and successful, regardless of location....also companies can customize their Codi hubs with their favorite snacks, goodies and display their core values ;) Other good practices for remote-first companies: childcare support, no meeting days, asynchronous communication tools.
Thank you! My current team is a mix of those familiar with a distributed team set up and those of us who are pretty familiar with it, so we're all being open and testing what we can. I'm so used to hopping coworking spaces during the week so I miss change. And my boss really wants more team brainstorm opportunities but is very open to working remote some days out of the week.Love the concept of Codi!