Franklin Kinard sent out another email update yesterday. It’s posted in full below. Kinard is leaving Bar Works. In January 2017, when Konrad Putzer wrote about Bar Works on the New York property website The Real Deal, Jonathan Black was listed as CEO and co-founder. Within weeks, Black’s name was replaced by Kinard’s on Bar Works’ company documents.
When did Kinard take over as director of Bar Works?
In a recent email update, Kinard states that he “stepped into the leadership at Bar Works a few months ago, at a chaotic time”.
Here’s an interview with Kinard in September 2016, where he’s introduced as “director of operations of Bar Works”. That’s eight months ago. It’s interesting to hear that Franklin thinks Bar Works was “chaotic” back then.
In the interview, Kinard explains the difference between Bar Works and other coworking companies,
“I think if I had to boil it down to one word, it’s agility. People may need a conference room for an hour, they may need a work space once a week, because they commute in on a certain schedule, they may need it just a few days out of the month. We have many tiers of packages which reflect how people are working today.”
Which sounds a lot like the “reorganisation” of Bar Works that Kinard wrote about in an update earlier this month.
In a November 2016 interview on School for Startups Radio, Kinard is introduced as the “managing director” of Bar Works.
In that interview, Kinard is asked whether Bar Works would sell a franchise to someone wanting to set up a Bar Works venue in, say, Atlanta. Here’s Kinard’s reply:
“Well, it’s interesting. My colleagues who deal with investment specifically field questions like that. I’m not informed enough to give you an answer right now on that, because there are certain other strategic considerations that go into that. But the fact is, as you see on the website, we do field queries from people who say, ‘Hey we think there’s a market for what you’re offering in this city. We believe there’s a market in that city’. We want that feedback, and we’ll pursue those conversations.”
Which is a long way of saying, “I don’t know”. Kinard has colleagues who deal with investment, but he appears not to know much about what they do.
Who is Sam Aura?
Bar Works features in an April 2016 interview on School for Startups Radio. Sam Aura was introduced as “the guy behind a really cool new place in Manhattan called Bar Works”. Aura has an English accent. The interviewer describes his background as real estate and headhunting.
Aura elaborates as follows,
“I’m not the actual person behind Bar Works. I’m one of the people sort of pushing it and driving it forward. That is actually where my skill sets come from. I was a headhunter in the past, you know, in a manner of speaking dealing with the meatware behing the hardware of a company. Companies are built with great people, it’s not just the technology behind them….
“Bar Works is actually built by a couple of silent directors. The guys who had this idea of building something slightly different, you know it’s already available, the opportunity of having a workspace, a space you can work within is not new.”
Unfortunately, the interviewer, James Beach, didn’t ask who the “silent directors” behind the company are. But he did ask Sam Aura how Bar Works was funded. Here’s his reply:
“Well actually, it’s not that expensive. You would normally think is, especially if you’re looking at the news and some of the other office companies out there, that yes, you know, valued at billions and millions, and lots and lots of money to start up with and that sort of.
“We’re actually not the same. But we don’t buy our buildings. We got some, er, some, you know, crowd funded money, at a very early stage to help us get started. For which we haven’t kind of used the entire pot of money available to us either, we’ve used as much as we needed. As much as we’re needing.
“The fact is you know, we are very, very profitable as an entity, the locations that we take on, they’re rented. We rent them. They are street facing. They are front, you know, they’ve got street frontage, there’s retail space.
“They are not priced up the same way as those big offices are, you’ve got those elevators, there’s, you know, there’s designated office space structures. They charge a lot higher than what we are charged essentially. To take on a space it would take.
“So we are benefitting from lower price points taking a space. To gut the place and refurbish and to make it look the way it looks on the website. You’ll notice it’s very similar to what a restaurant does look like. You’ve got seats and you’ve got tables, and you’ve got open space. We haven’t had to do too much, to get something operational in a way that we needed to be.
“So we can make profit very very quickly from our sites without breaking the bank, or charging an arm and a leg for our members. So it allowed us to be profitable at a very early stage, so we can take on the next location.
“And again, it’s a lease, which we can negotiate in places you know that are subject to you know a hell of a lot of footfall at lunch time for instance. Because they are always around, dotted around these large corporate buildings, and all the other restaurants in those locations. We’ve got a lot of strategic advantages that allow us to be profitable very, very quickly.”
Which is a long way of avoiding the question about where the funding for Bar Works comes from.
Who is Franklin Kinard?
Kinard’s LinkedIn page states that he’s been managing director of Bar Works since January 2017. Either that’s a lie, or Franklin was lying to his interviewers in September and November 2016.
Kinard’s only job listed on his LinkedIn page is at Bar Works. But Kinard also states that,
I’m also a veteran of news, sales, marketing and public relations, and a respected copywriter and editor. I have worked with Deloitte, The New York Times, CNN, ABC News and other notable organizations. As well, I was a senior advisor to a prominent philanthropist who founded the Multifaith Alliance For Syrian Refugees.
Bizarrely though, Kinard’s name doesn’t appear in searches on Google associated with any of the companies he mentions. (Kinard’s name is mentioned once on the New York Times website, in a 1984 article where he’s described as a spokesman for The Wall Street Journal!)
Last week, I wrote to each of the companies that Kinard lists on his LinkedIn page. So far, none has leapt to Kinard’s defence.
Kinard doesn’t even seem sure how he signs his own name. In February 2017, when Franklin Kinnard signed Bar Works’ response to The Real Deal article, his signature looked like this:
By April 2017, when he sent out an update about Bar Works’ difficulties with its bank, his signature had changed to this:
Here’s Kinard’s latest (and presumably last) update. While there’s not much point reading too much into any of this nonsense, it does raise a couple of obvious questions. If Kinard has reorganised Bar Works, and everything is hunky dory, why leave? And, why is the cost of construction now an issue, when in April 2016, Sam Aura was keen to tell us that Bar Works’ operations weren’t expensive?
I was retained to execute a difficult restructuring at Bar Works. I had two objectives: (1) End the construction and government compliance issues that kept Bar Works locations from opening; and (2) Launch a succession of newly-formatted Bar Works that have multiple revenue streams, instead of relying solely on membership fees. Achieving those two goals would improve liquidity, thus enabling Bar Works to resume payments. I have completed my reorganization, and I am leaving the company. Immediately, Bar Works shifts to management that will focus on producing income from the revised company footprint.
There’s nothing disruptive here. A few months ago, I was put in charge of Bar Works USA to fix how locations are built in the U.S., because that was by far the company’s biggest weakness. Always, the plan was to activate a more robust sales agenda once construction systems were repaired. In other words, the transfer of leadership to our current sales director is expected, healthy and essential.
I projected before those payments could resume after all the new Bar Works locations are operational in June. My assessment hasn’t changed. Now that expensive construction is ending, the company will have sharply reduced expenses at the same time it sees new revenue from the juice bars, coffee bars, and restaurant that are paying to be in Bar Works locations.
The precise timetable for payments will be set by Bar Works’ new management.
In the course of my restructuring, some Bar Works locations have been closed or abandoned. But stakeholders in those sites will be shifted to locations that have stronger revenue foundations.
I am proud of how I solved serious operational problems at Bar Works. I’m optimistic that the new team leading Bar Works will take the company even further.
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