The Cmpny founder, a scion of the developer family, reflects on his roots and his ambition to craft millennial-friendly office spaces
There’s nothing like a bit of familial rivalry to fuel entrepreneurial ambitions. Freighted with growing up in a renowned B.C. real estate development family, Darryl Bosa admits taking off “to learn and make my own mistakes” overseas for nearly a decade before returning home to create a new coworking business.
“I still try to outdo my brothers,” the founder of Cmpny Cowork Inc. says with a smile, referring to Colin, CEO of Bosa Properties Inc., and Dale, chief executive of its subsidiary, BlueSky Properties Inc. (Their father, Robert, founded the group, while their uncle, Nat, set up Bosa Development Corp.) “I’m the youngest, with a chip on my shoulder,” he adds. “Some people think that just because I’m part of the Bosa family, I don’t have the same anxieties and fears that everybody does, and it’s completely untrue.”
Fears aside, the 36-year-old aims to capitalize on his position in the family by tapping into his generation’s millennial mindset and the spurt in the coworking industry. We meet just before New York–based WeWork announced that it’s taking over 80,000 square feet for shared office space in downtown Vancouver’s Bentall III tower.
Bosa, who launched the 10,000-square-foot Spacekraft by Cmpny in Burnaby in 2015 and Coquitlam’s 13,000-square-foot Cmpny this March, says his venture is about “coworking 3.0.” Beyond renting desks and broadcast, meditation and child-friendly zones, it offers work-related programs (such as developing “a mindset to succeed”) and a shared space to encourage members to riff off each other. Membership stands at more than 150, mostly from the tech and creative fields.
“This is the key thing to creating a community where people are sharing ideas, and with millennials you start seeing people who want this feeling of connectivity,” Bosa says between bites of chicken salad at Browns Socialhouse in Coquitlam. “It’s about animating spaces."
If someone wants to be a mentor, Cmpny can connect them with members and help entrepreneurs, for example, find others with the expertise to aid their business—not leave it to serendipity, in other words. “It is great to dream of that one big magical opportunity; however, if we focus on our day-to-day work, we will be able to seize many great opportunities,” says Bosa. (There are nine million millennials nationwide and 75 million in the U.S.—where Generation Y has overtaken the baby boomers in size—according to Environics Analytics and the Pew Research Center, respectively.)
All of which leads Bosa—who holds a bachelor of commerce from what is now UBC’s Sauder School of Business and worked as an investment banker at ABN AMRO Bank N.V. in the U.K. and for hospitality-and-real-estate consulting group Zhong Hua Tuan Jie in China—to strive for “authentic engagement and connection.” That includes revealing his own business concerns to members. “You have to be real about it, because it’s easier for members to be able to open up if they can relate,” he says. “Unless you understand the emotional baggage of a millennial, you’re never going to meet their demands.”
Bosa’s “big dream” expansion would see Cmpny in the U.S., including San Francisco, which he visits from his False Creek home every weekend to see his wife, Deirdre, a CNBC technology reporter whom he met in the expat community in Beijing, and their one-year-old son, Hiro. But he has Surrey and Vancouver in his sights, too. When it comes to the competitive commercial market, though, he’s quick to state what sounds like a Bosa commandment: “It’s definitely a lesson from the family that you mustn’t fall in love with a space if the numbers don’t make sense, because it will come back to bite you later on.”
He may be carving out his own path, but he knows that being a Bosa is an “incredible blessing.”
THREE THINGS ABOUT... DARRYL BOSA
1. To celebrate his 30th birthday, he dodged bulls at Pamplona’s famous Fiesta de San Fermin in Spain. “It’s a crazy place–you stay up all night partying, at 7 a.m. you run with the bulls, and then you have a Hemingway [cocktail] when you’re done,” he says.
2. Bosa was spurred into taking hockey lessons again because his wife was “better” than him. He practises daily at Canlan Ice Sports’ Burnaby 8 Rinks: “It’s also therapy for me–the only time I completely forget about everything.”
3. A 5 a.m. riser and a fan of routine (“on a regular basis, I’m a boring person–I like my food just so, I like to get to bed early”), he admires the advice on forming good habits in University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.