Cowork Rochester

Thoughts from OurSpace in Fort Wayne

Posted in Uncategorized by Erik on March 18, 2010

A couple of interesting ideas from posts on the OurSpace, a coworking facility in Fort Wayne, IN.

“Coworking is about creating a strong community.”

“Though working from home has advantages – increased autonomy and no need for a lengthy commute, for example – the solitude can sometimes drain motivation.”

“Coworking relies upon individuals to build relationships,  work together and create the better product.”

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Who Says Coworking Won’t Work?

Posted in coworking, industry, news coverage by Erik on March 17, 2010

Coworking has been getting a lot of  press lately and this article from USA Today is just another feather in the cap of coworking. It got me thinking about a comment left on an earlier article comparing coworking and shared office space. Jason said, “Coworking Spaces = Not Profitable and most FAIL[.] Shared Office Space = Struggling but have a PROVEN biz model.” It’s clear that the rules of business are continuously changing and that the landscape for how businesses source a physical location will change as well. I suspect that shared offices were a radical idea when the first one was pitched. Coworking will ultimately be successful in any market with a sufficiently large talent pool because of the economic benefits they provide to bootstraped and underfunded startups and solo-workers. From the article:

Such facilities surfaced a couple years ago, but they are thriving because the economy has forced companies and non-profits to use them as a practical way to save money. They are especially appealing to one-person businesses, which grew 8% in 2008

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Incubator Style Coworking Space

Posted in coworking, facilities, shared office by Erik on March 17, 2010

WebWorkerDaily toured CoLab, an Orlando, FL coworking space and posted insight into how coworking is working in a larger city. The space is primarily being used as an incubator style / shared office configuration instead of a solo-worker destination.

The coworking common area at CoLab is definitely underutilized. It was virtually deserted on the Monday afternoon that I visited, although I was told a few members use it on a regular basis. This is likely because CoLab’s suites are so affordable that they are packed to the rafters with small businesses.

Another reason for the lack of utilization may be due to the variety of options available to solo workers in Orlando.  In some locations where there is an existing culture of web-based entrepreneurs a larger number of startups an incubator style startup may work. In fact, this is a major benefit to any bio-technology firm considering involvement in the Pine Island Elk Run Biotech Park or even the Minnesota BioBusiness Center. However, for internet professionals, the demand for this type of space doesn’t appear to be there and downtown would be better served by a more traditional open coworking facility.

Workspace Options in Rochester

Posted in facilities by Erik on March 15, 2010

While these are not coworking, there are a number of places in Rochester where freelancers can get work done outside of their home. These locations offer WiFi and a place to sit and are open to the public.

  • Apache Mall Food Court
  • Caribou Coffee
  • Mayo Clinic (Gonda Building)
  • Panera Bread
  • Peace Plaza (Seasonal)
  • Rochester Public Library
  • Starbucks

Any others that people like and use regularly?

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From Isolation to Stimulation

Posted in coworking by Erik on March 13, 2010

Dr. Jeff Cornwall recently posted on his blog The Entrepreneurial Mind,

In an age of technology where it is so easy to become isolated, the co-working movement has drawn those who work independently but still seek to be a part of a stimulating community.

Mental stimulation is a non-tangible take away I’ve personally experienced while coworking. Discussions about infrastructure systems, Minnesota web-technology trends and coworking immediately come to mind. At the end of a day of coworking, I feel invigorated by the discussions I’ve had and the open sharing and collaboration that has taken place.

Dr. Cornwall’s article primarily focuses on cost benefits of coworking and a new coworking space, CoLab in Nashville, TN. He points out that Coworking is a good way for boot-strap startups to keep costs low while gaining the “open environment that fosters interaction, collaboration and even shared work projects.”

Hat tip to National Association for the Self Employed (NASE) for referencing the original.

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Coworking at the 3rd Place

Posted in cowork, facilities by Erik on March 12, 2010

Today I coworked from The 3rd Place a facility in St. Paul (MN). This is the second coworking facility I’ve been able to visit. I won’t bother comparing them for everyone. Instead, I encourage you take a look at both locations, spend a day or two coworking at each, and decide which is the best fit for you. Remember, the first day is free at both.

I do, however, want to share a big thank you to Monkey Island and the crew who run The 3rd Place for everything. A massive thank you to Josh Becerra for taking the time to share his ideas on evolving coworking and his input into some next steps for Rochester. Last but not least, thank you to  Ernest Grumbles for presenting an excellent IP Secrecy and Collaboration presentation. Ernest, I’ll be sharing as many trade secrets as possible about coworking in Rochester as possible. 😀

Entrepreneur’s View on Coworking

Posted in coworking, interview by Erik on March 10, 2010

Harry Lin was interviewed by ReadWriteWeb on how collaboration and coworking helped his startup succeed. From the article:

We would come up with a problem or a hurdle we couldn’t get over and we would just shout out, “Hey has anyone ever done this with a library?” and some guy would jump up and say, “Yeah, I’ve done that!” Voila! Problem solved. And that would happen all the time.

Another quote from the article.

If possible, I would not do the “in your basement” or “in your garage by yourself”. Those are the legendary stories we like to hear about, but I think the majority of successful startups has had some kind of coworking environment. … Being with other people who are doing the same thing is hugely beneficial.

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Coworking Coming to St. Cloud

Posted in coworking, minnesota startup by Erik on March 9, 2010

St. Cloud, MN is ready to get their own coworking facility up and running. They’re looking for a location and checking out the 3rd Place and CoCo sites in St. Paul, MN.

Congratulations to our fellow coworkers and coworking advocates in St. Cloud!

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What’s Beyond Mayo and IBM?

Posted in economy, industry by Erik on March 5, 2010

Despite earlier ramblings on this blog, Rochester isn’t entirely Mayo and IBM. There is actually a diverse group of companies operating largely off the local media radar. Don’t tell anyone, but there’s even a Y-Combinator startup on the list below. With the University of Minnesota campus expansion in the next few years, new and fresh ideas will follow. Rochester is uniquely situated to grow in the information technology and knowledge economy. As Rochester’s business environment diversifies, collaboration and cooperation between these companies will be critical to continued success in this region.

These are a few operating or based in Rochester:

I read a depressing quote on an article from the Star Tribune while looking for information for this article.

There really isn’t a VC community/pool here in MN — especially for web technology — but even the medtech folks will tell you that its all but dried up. We’re unfortunately a layover between the coasts. You either have to be self funded or have a deep pool of the 3F’s – Friends, Family, and Fools. You’ll spend a lot of time driving around, buying lunch, getting free advice. And in the end, someone on the coast will be beat you to the punch.

Some of the above companies are directly serving Mayo or working in conjunction with IBM, but not all. One thing is certain, there is a mass of talented people working in Rochester with a diverse set of industries and backgrounds represented. The old saying that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts rings ever so true. Rochester is uniquely positioned currently to transform itself and open collaboration and sharing within the technology community will be a vital component of that success.

You can read more about these local companies in the RAEDI glossy and in Rochester Magazine’s Silicon Prairie series too. I’ve intentionally left off solo-workers and firms that exist only to serve one of the major employers for the sake of brevity. Furthermore there is no shortage of web design and development firms in Rochester, be sure to check them out while your at it. If you feel you were unfairly excluded, add yourself and a one liner about what you do in the comments below.

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Where Do You Work?

Posted in Uncategorized by Erik on March 4, 2010

Watching this video today made me ponder the question: do organizations like the Mayo Clinic and IBM allow their employees to work outside of the office? The few folks I know who work at IBM in other cities are primarily working from their homes so I suspect this opportunity exists, but I don’t know if it’s specific to different work units or not.

As anyone living here is aware, Rochester is a bit of a one horse town when it comes to employment. I often see groups of Mayo badge wearing folk meeting “offsite” at Starbucks, Caribou Coffee or in Peace Plaza (seasonal). I’m not familiar with Mayo’s internal structure or policies, but cross pollination of ideas and sharing is wildly beneficial for any profession, even if it’s only happening behind closed doors.

The benefits of collaboration increase the more diverse the population involved is. Would Mayo or IBM be supportive of local collaboration efforts in Rochester, or are the reins of control and limitations of regulatory compliance too tight to allow for true open collaboration?

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