Cowork Rochester

Coworking in the Other Rochester

Posted in coworking, facilities by Erik on May 5, 2010

Coworking Rochester‘s (NY) story was written up in a recent Democrat and Chronicle article. Congratulations to David Moffitt on his success with his coworking space. Rochester, NY serves an estimated population of 206K, putting it as the 99th largest city in the US, whereas Rochester, MN is just recently made the list at 271st with 100K people. It remains unclear if the population is sufficiently large and diverse enough to support a dedicated coworking facility in Rochester, MN.

I suspect that one permanent coworking / shared office type facility is sustainable per 100K people in markets with a diverse workforce and that one facility is sustainable per 200K people in markets lacking diversity. While Rochester may be too small for a dedicated coworking location today, it’s clear that some type of coworking arrangement, perhaps using the Jelly model would be sustainable here now.

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Gangplank and Jelly

Posted in coworking by Erik on March 20, 2010

An alternative to a full time dedicated coworking space would be to start with coworking sessions in a borrowed or possibly rented space. The advantages of perusing some informal sessions include less capital outlay for rent, the ability to better gauge community interest, and ability to change locations to better serve the coworking community that is interested. The requirements are simple: Access to internet, power, tables and chairs, in a location were we can talk openly and freely and have lively discussions. A plus would include access to coffee.

Jelly is one permutation of this sort of informal coworking arrangement. It started in New York, but now has groups meeting all over the world. In a Jelly, people simply come together for a day and work. Of course collaboration, community and camaraderie are obvious side effects of getting interesting people together, much like any other coworking arrangement.

Another model I’ve been reading about is called Gangplank. Gangplank is operating a coworking facility in Phoenix, AZ. However, another facility Gangplank Utah in Salt Lake City, UT is a somewhat different beast. It currently offers after-hours coworking but is also closely linked to the University. Connecting tech related student groups with area independents and freelancers brings a fresh take on collaboration.

For Rochester, informal collaboration with Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) or University of Minnesota students would allow individuals with an entrepreneurial bent to connect and collaborate with others outside of their daily experience.

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If You Build It, They Will Come

Posted in coworking by Erik on February 19, 2010

Um, No. Community plays a huge roll in ultimately the determining success or failure of a co-working location. A building, no matter how well located, how cool and how hip can’t hope to succeed unless the community needs it. Brad Neuberg ended up closing his first c0-working facility because “nobody came”, but that is not entirely accurate. Many people did come and his idea spread to other locations. His ideas were remixed, spread and new facilities cropped up all around the country and the world. A community of space catalysts was born.

A post illustrating the differences between temporary and permanent co-working caught my attention today. The author described some of the features of a permanent location and a temporary event like a Jelly. What was missing, however, was the sense of community and collaboration, the human resources, that are present in both models. Anecdotally, I’ve learned that successful co-working facilities have grown out of communities. Both CoCo (MN) and The 3rd Place (MN) both started out as a less formal co-working group that meets regularly in Minneapolis.

In 2009, WebWorkerDaily posted an article about Justifying Coworking as an Investment. It highlights the decision process someone should go through when contemplating wether co-working will be a good fit for them. This paragraph from that article really hits the nail on the head:

If you are looking to build meaningful professional relationships, the kind that can’t come from email exchanges and the occasional lunch, then coworking presents a tangible benefit. If you need your company to have a public face, and one that exists in a brick-and-mortar sense, and you need that consistently, then coworking presents an attractive proposition. If your working hours are interrupted in consistent and unpredictable ways at your home office, damaging your productivity, then coworking could help.

So how might co-working take hold and get started in Rochester and other cities? By forming a community. Over the last few weeks I have learned that there are multiple communities of small firms and solo-workers already in place here in Rochester. I’ll be working to connect with these communities over the coming months.

Hat tip to CoCo for sharing the WebWorkerDaily article.