Is Bigger Better in the New York Coworking Scene?

Post Author: Michael Gasiorek.

As a startup business owner, have you ever asked yourself how your company can overcome a much larger funded competitor? You may be imagining your competitors using all their capital to hire developers, an aggressive sales team, building out a savvy Mad Men-level marketing department, and getting involved in the next three largest global markets. Can you go up against this Goliath? Yes – and more ably than you’d expect. Our big tip here: using the community and personal attention found at coworking spaces, you can compete with larger businesses by using resources available on-demand at arm’s length from your hot desk.

Aiming to work at the level of a large funded startup? Take advantage of the new corporate office rental model: coworking spaces. Heating up in New York City, the Bay Area, and even in Shanghai, Budapest, and around the world, coworking space allows multiple companies and agencies to share a fully outfitted office. Currently, the largest companies in this space are Wework, a startup with a $5 billion valuation, and Regus, the biggest public competitor.

While there are several competitors in the space, there are only a few with multiple locations. A new privately funded firm is carving out its market share in the rapidly growing business of providing shared office space to startups, entrepreneurs and creative companies in New York City. Coworkrs, a much smaller shared office space community, has locations in Gowanus, Brooklyn, the Flatiron District, and they just recently signed a 13 year 30,000 square foot lease in NYC’s Financial District (Fidi) at 55 Broadway.

As a startup cofounder myself, I was curious about the best coworking spaces from which to work. I got a chance to try a community membership in Wework’s Fulton Center location, and then I tried a community membership at Coworkrs’ Flatiron space.  Here is what I learned from the experiences.

What was the Same

Both of these coworking spaces offer more than just space, with options of shared desks or private offices. Expect networking event mixers, arcade video games, high speed internet, free micro-brew beer on tap. The perks and people form a cohesive community that makes these environments more than just workspaces. When you compare either of these companies to the boring corporate office space provider Regus, they are both building and providing an atmosphere that merges work and life. Their cultures are ones that celebrate who we are as people and attracts those who seek to find a sense of purpose in their work. They are bringing several dozen professionals together to build a community where you belong and contribute.

The largest social shifts can happen when an infectious new kind of culture is developed and adopted, where a new set of values change and advance society in a more positive way. By removing the whole corporate office cubicle structure and building a true, interwoven community, I believe they are heading towards a better and more collaborative way to work and live.

What was Different

When I worked at either of the two different Wework locations I felt lost inside their sprawling campus. The community managers did not go out of their way to find out my name, and people were more focused on their work or on interactions with those they already knew. In meeting the Ben Kessler, Wework’s Director of Marketing, I learned about their marketing and customer acquisition strategies. Their employees “sell the why,” targeting mostly startup companies. Despite the fact that they are scaling so quickly, they feel the need to tell their employees to be humble so they can continue to empathize with the small startup customer instead of appearing to be a mega corporation. Wework’s founder Adam Neuberg has publicly said “We are not competing with other co-working spaces.”

When I visited Coworkrs’ flagship Flatiron location, I immediately felt that people were really friendly, especially the community managers. I was greeted by Eric Steiner, the COO, who showed me around and even introduced me to a number of the other members – by name, no less. As I rode the elevator into the space during my trial month, a member invited me to stay for an “Internet of Things” happy hour meetup. Despite being a much smaller coworking space, I got a sense of a family-like community environment. I asked Eric about their marketing strategies. Differing from Wework, Coworks’ staff is vigilant about shared office space competitors like the Grind, Impact Hub, AlleyNYC, The Yard, and others. They admitted to having done intense market research, even speaking with a number of Wework’s former community managers to crystallize strategies to differentiate the space and make it an attractive place to get work done. They even discovered an opportunity in Wework’s Boston location, where the member tenant turnover rate is quite high there because people from Boston have a sense of pride and like to support smaller local coworking spaces over non-local corporate expansions. Coworkrs currently has 4 NYC office locations and they have not taken any outside venture capital investment – all of the funding has come from the cofounders and their immediate networks.     


Bigger may not always appeal to your customer base. Does the company that raises the most money or has the largest valuation mean they are the best?  Every startup wants to grow, gain more customers and eventually increase revenue, but if you are growing so fast that you are losing sight of the customer experience, this may not be the best strategy for your business. If your business is in an industry that has much larger competitors – which is true in almost every vertical – focus on what makes your company unique and different, focus on your niche product or experience, and your company will compete just fine. Listen to your users and customers and stay authentic to what your brand stands for, and your people will be loyal to you.


This piece was originally published on Startup Grind, the global entrepreneurship community, by AndrewBroadbent.

Andrew covers topics like entrepreneurship, conversion optimization, digital marketing and strategies for the startup and investor community. He co-founded Vab Media, a digital marketing startup agency in New York, with a specialty in the latest SEO tactics. A known growth specialist, he aids companies with branding, visibility, and customer experiences online through a variety of strategies. He builds and optimizes profitable websites, some of which hold first page rankings for major keywords in Google.

Is it a good idea to have multiple coworking spaces in one city?

Post Author: jeannine.

This blog post first appeared on Jonathan Markwell’s blog and is republished here with permission.  The subject of competing Coworking spaces within one city came up in the Coworking group, and during the discussion this gem came to light.  We are proud to republish it here as part of our effort to revitalize this blog and the Open Coworking community.



I’ve had to ask myself this question many times since starting The Skiff. The growth of coworking is leading to it being asked increasingly by first time coworking space founders and long term owners alike.

My short answer is “yes” but be careful (I’ve included a checklist at the bottom of this post to help with that).

 It’s taken me a few years to get to this answer. While I’m confident that it’s the right one for Brighton today and probably your city too, let me share with you why I felt “no” and “maybe” were better answers a couple of years ago. It will help you understand and work with the people in your city who might resist your efforts.

We didn’t worry about there being multiple coworking spaces in one city when we started The Skiff. Through its accidental beginnings we didn’t realise what we were doing was coworking (but that’s a story for another time). Once we were up and running it became a regular concern.

It takes time to make a coworking space financially sustainable. When you hear about other spaces opening and you’re feeling cash poor it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that competition will make growing your community even harder. There have been plenty of times that I’ve had sleepless nights over this and it might be that your ‘competitors’ feel the same. Being sensitive to that and talking openly with them at the earliest opportunity will help.

It’s critical that you do not consider other coworking communities in your city to be competition. You have a shared ambition to make coworking the future of work and your true competition is traditional ways of working. To a lesser degree serviced offices, cafés, spare desks at agencies, and people’s home offices and kitchen tables are also competition. The more people there are collaborating on the promotion of coworking in your city, the faster people still doing things the old way will switch.

The thing that helped me come around to this way of thinking was seeing what happened as a result of the other spaces being created in Brighton. It helped our members better understand why they chose The Skiff. It was rarely because of the location, the building or some other physical feature. They chose The Skiff because it was the community of people they felt most comfortable working with. This made our community much stronger and when one or two people left for the other communities, others joined to replace them.

Here’s a checklist I recommend you work through when considering adding coworking spaces to cities that already have them:

  1. Experience the existing communities as a member yourself, participate and connect with the members to make sure you know exactly how the community you start will be different. You might even find that you don’t need to create one yourself.
  2. Build the community first, don’t make the often fatal mistake of getting a space first. Alex Hillman says it best here in How to fund your coworking space.
  3. Don’t make price the differentiator between your space and the others. When you start it looks easy to do ‘cheaper’ but you’ll be surprised by how many unexpected expenses pop up. We learned the hard way that we under priced by over 30% for the first few years. The cheapest desks in a city will always be spare places at companies that pay their bills with other products and services.
  4. Talk to the founders of existing coworking spaces and explain how yours will be different. Rather than worrying, they’ll probably be able to help you understand some of the specific economics of operating in the city and recommend people who could be a better fit for your community than their’s.



You can read more on this topic over on the Global Coworking Discussion

If you’d like to learn more from my experience building and growing coworking communities you should join the 500+ workspace leaders who get notified of my future posts.


Quick update from Cowo Milano, Italy.

Hi everybody! As summer steps in, coworkers seem to step out, here in Milano…

In fact, even if we are full booked at the moment (5 desks), we haven’t had much attendance in the office these past weeks, and I wonder if the season has something to do with it.

Furthermore, August is a month rather “slow” here in Italy (most companies/offices/stores close at least two weeks), so these days we are checking who’ll be around and who won’t for the rest of the summer.

To our pleasure, we have received a one-day visit from a blog-friend and are expecting someone from the US too (are you anywhere near here, Susan?).

Besides attendance and visits, we have improved the cowo site (blog, that is) with a list of coworking spaces in Europe and the rest of the world – thanks also to the excellent list provided in the cw wiki – along with few more “coworking resources” such as links to cw videos from Youtube and the wiki, cw photos from Flickr, cw blogs from Technorati… we are open to suggestions and of course ready to include your site, if you like. (Just leave a comment or write to me- max(at)

Last but not least, we are doing a networking effort with a linkedin group we called “friends of cowo-coworking” which counts, at the moment, 43 members from many countries.

The feeling we have is that coworking is taking its course, and we try to go along with it – developing it but also understanding it… it’s good to see people settling down in your place and feeling good about it, we consider ourselves lucky to have such little community, what we mean to do right now is to keep providing such a service and aventually find ways of imrpoving it, but without any rush.

I’d like to get into deeper considerations about cw, but I don’t feel ready yet, cowo is only 3 mos. old…

So, thank you for reading this, and ciao from Milano!

La Cantine, a new coworking space in Paris!


We are happy to announce to you that La Cantine by Silicon Sentier is opened since 30 january 2008.

This is a networked collaborative workspace which facilitates conception and emergence of initiatives, new uses, products and services by accelerating ideas, creation and networked & open innovation.

Additionally, La Cantine is openned up to international networks (co-working, art-oriented platforms, alternative venues, competitive clusters, specialized research labs, colleges and universities).

Both a place of exchange and a technological showcase, La Cantine is open to professionals, tech enthusiasts and everyday users. Its 200 square meters dedicated to ascending innovation welcome all contributors to digital life.

3 fully-configurable, connected spaces, equipped with high-speed broadband:

– a Café space dedicated to meetups, information, exhibitions and project testing

– a collaborative space dedicated to project development

– a brainstorming and meeting space

At La Cantine you can

Think: meet at the Café any time of the day to exchange and get informed

Work: rent a collaborative workspace for short periods at affordable rates

Test: test products and services in development to get feedback from La Cantine’s community of users and creators.

Discuss: organize or take part in discussions and make your point at various innovative events involving a wide audience

This new collaborative space in Paris is open to all co-worker in the world.

Silicon Sentier, the Paris-based digital start-ups association, initiated the project.

Partners of La Cantine : the Ile-de-France region, Orange, the Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération and the Cap Digital competitive cluster.

La Cantine is located in a covered passage between La Bourse and the Grands Boulevards.

151, rue Montmartre, 75002 Paris

12, Galerie Montmartre, Passage des Panoramas

Tel : +33 1 40 13 64 40

Photos, program and information on:

To stay informed about La Cantine

Press contact

To submit an event