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.

Austin Cospace’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem-as-a-Service Supports Accelerator in Serving Entrepreneurs Downtown

Post Author: Paul O’Brien.

cowork in austinEntrepreneurship took a leap forward today in Austin, Texas with the announcement by Cospace of their partnership with Capital Factory, a leading startup accelerator, in managing a new facility sponsored by the City of Austin through Austin Tech Live, downtown. Cospace recently reached an agreement with Capital Factory to manage operations of the 22,000 sq ft startup space and provide the entrepreneurial classes and events there to Austin’s startup community and entrepreneurs.

Austin Tech Live

An initiative supported with staff and resources through the Austin Chamber’s Opportunity Austin funding and executed through the Chamber’s Technology Partnership team, Austin Tech Live is the local initiative to develop a community of entrepreneurs working in a state of the art environment and coworking space in the core of Austin’s creative center – the downtown central business district of Austin.

The partnership is the first of many changes for Cospace in the expansion of it’s entrepreneurial ecosystem-as-a-serviceworkplace, business networking, resources, educational programming, and lean product development services — which helps entrepreneurs start, build, and grow companies.  Akin to SaaS (“Software as a Service”), Cospace serves members and entrepreneurs with the familiar meeting space, workplace, resources, as well as educational programming, project management and product development services, and business networking.

“We are excited to partner with Capital Factory to support the goal of furthering entrepreneurship in Austin,” Shared Kirtus Dixon, Co-founder of Cospace. “At Cospace, we believe that ‘Entrepreneurs Live and Work Everywhere’ and creating a hub of activity in downtown Austin will ignite the downtown economy and give startups and entrepreneurs the resources they need to build amazing businesses in Austin.”

Home to Austin Entrepreneurs

Cospace, known in Austin as the home to entrepreneurs focused on Lean business and product development, is a collaborative business community that has facilitated the launch of more than 50 products, supported nearly two dozen startups, and hosted over 1500 students through classes in technology and entrepreneurship. Cospace has reached more than 5000 entrepreneurs and professionals throughout the Austin community with affordable workspace solutions and meeting space, highly accessible event space, and classes and programs to help entrepreneurs build businesses.

Via the partnership, Cospace and Capital Factory will take coworking to the next level and ensure that startups have the space, resources, and training they need to succeed.

“Today more than ever, executing on ideas is key to success,” added Dixon. “Cospace increases your odds of success by bringing critical elements together: space, people, education, and resources.”

The first European Jelly week is ready to start

Hub Vilnius joined over 30 other coworking centers from across Europe for the first coworking Jelly week. Come to Hub Vilnius on the 21st of January for Jelly there.

Jellies are occasional meetings at which a small group of people come together to collaborate in an informal atmosphere. Unlike coworking spaces, no membership is required, they cost nothing and take place in a variety of locations. They offer the opportunity to exchange ideas, with no commitments or costs. And at the same time, they allow a community to build that can eventually lead to the development of an institution like a coworking space. With these two benefits in mind, Anni Roolf, a communication designer from Wuppertal, has organized the first European Jelly Week. It will take place from January 17 to 23 in many cities across Europe.

First Jelly in Hub Vilnius, November 2010

Jelly coworking by Mokolabs
Jelly coworking in San Diego by Mokolabs

The name “jelly” was chosen by a group in New York in 2006, taking inspiration from jelly beans. In the end it is simply a fun name, one which is yet to surface in Wikipedia. “These meetings are probably too unstructured and not organized enough for it. Many meetings in spontaneous locations could qualify as a jelly. But even so, somebody could have written an article about it on Wikipedia. The concept has existed now for five years, after all,” Anni said.

Jelly at PAX Coworking Japan

“The coworking movement also existed before it had a name. Many people discovered the concept for themselves, without having to describe it in one word. However using a known label can allow people to better grasp the concept and help it to achieve greater awareness.”

As well as the first Jelly Week, Anni has also initiated the development of the first coworking space in her home town. Jelly meetings can act as a temporary coworking meeting, even if no fixed premises have yet been found. It also helps spread the coworking movement to new places.

The idea grew out of the Coworking Europe conference in Brussels at the end of 2010. Anni wanted to find a way to carry on the productive spirit of the conference, and to demonstrate “how fast things can be created, with few resources but many legs.”

Another reason is to help spread the word about the coworking movment and foster a pan-European dimension to encourage international exchanges and attract more media attention.

How each Jelly looks and functions is entirely up to the creativity and knowledge of each individual organiser. “We only create the basis, and it is up to the people to visualize what they can make from it.” For herself, Anni hopes to develop the initiative for a coworking space in Wuppertal, and to network with people in other locations.

So far, 30 organizations from 14 countries have signed up to host meetings, many of them coworking spaces. A central site will help all participating jelly meetings communicate with each other, as well as a Twitter wall using the hashtag #jellyweek. Jelly Week offers a good opportunity for the strengthening of the European coworking community. To participate, simply contact Anni.

Here is the map of coworking Jelly week:

Japanese coworkers has joined it as well:


New Collaborative Workspace Comes To Phoenix

Union WorkSpace is set up in an open community format, designed to foster creativity, networking, and relationship building. It’s a place to not only get work done, but create lasting relationships and establish strategic business alliances.

Union WorkSpace is a collaborative office concept catering to today’s independent professional. Uniquely situated in one of Phoenix’s most architecturally advanced office buildings, Union offers sophisticated work space to small businesses. Building off of the “coworking” platform more frequently seen across the World, Union WorkSpace is Phoenix’s newest coworking space.

Union WorkSpace members are fully supported with amenity rich services that include custom built desk space, Herman Miller task chairs, Wi-Fi, conference room access, mailing address, print/copy/fax capabilities, amongst other things.

“I wanted to create something that provided the stable platform needed to develop and grow your business and assist in helping you achieve the goals you’ve set forth”, added founder Austin King.

Union WorkSpace is set up in an open community format, designed to foster creativity, networking, and relationship building. It’s a place to not only get work done, but create lasting relationships and establish strategic business alliances.

To schedule a visit, please contact Austin King at 602.330.6215 or

You can also follow Union WorkSpace on Twitter and Facebook!

Entrepreneurial Amnesia

Bringing coworking to nearby Loveland, Colorado has been an adventure. We’ve roved around looking for fast, reliable and secure internet. We’ve picked up shop and moved mid day for greener pastures. We’ve celebrated milestones and then suffered disappointment when things didn’t work out after all. I’ve asked myself several times if I can really do *this* again. Can I?

Bringing coworking to nearby Loveland, Colorado has been an adventure. We’ve roved around looking for fast, reliable and secure internet. We’ve picked up shop and moved mid day for greener pastures.  We’ve celebrated milestones and then suffered disappointment when things didn’t work out after all. I’ve asked myself several times if I can really do *this* again.  Can I?

It seems like a hundred years ago when the Fort Collins crew was crammed into that reception area at RMI2  for free coworking.  I have to think hard to remember how every Tuesday morning I would arrive twitter-pated to start the day and explore the concept of coworking with my new little circle of friends.  I’d drag tables and chairs together and arrange them in some sort of semblance of a “real office” and then wait for the first freelancers to start arriving.  We did this for just 5 weeks.  Five weeks was all it took to grow a little community of coworking addicts in Old Town.  6 weeks after that Cohere opened.  Ah, Cohere.  Our (near) perfect little slice of historic Old Town with exposed brick, original hardwood floors, sunlight everywhere, sweet high back chairs and fun furniture. Comfort.  Bliss.  Sweet productivity and calm all at once.  Hasn’t it always been this way?

Flash to today: in the back room of Dazbog in downtown Loveland.  Four freelancers, 8 cups of coffee and the weirdest collection of music playing over the loud speaker (think The Beatles, funk and Bruce Springstein together at last).  Don’t misunderstand me.  Dazbog has been great.  The owner has been flexible and helpful (the free snacks didn’t hurt)!  But we’re in a coffee shop.  You’ve all heard me talk about the horrors of freelancing from coffee shops and yet here we are again.  We’ve found about the best possible coffee shop situation.  To have a private room with a door, windows and a caffeine source 12 steps away is really, truly delightful.

I have to keep reminding myself that our beginnings in Fort Collins really were humble and not the perfect, flourishing community that we are today.  Remember dragging those tables around?  I mean, really dragging that stuff from the way back of the building? Remember those not so comfy plastic chairs?  How about trading off and on for power with the only outlet?  Remember that?   What about the day we browned out the internet connection because there were 14 of us in a room built for 6 on an internet connection that was probably meant for 4?

In discussing the current coworking situation in Loveland today, we realized that the reason the U.S. economy needs entrepreneurs is because entrepreneurs can’t remember what it was like to start the first business.  Much like child birth (or so I’ve heard), I just can’t remember if or how much pain there was when I started Cohere Fort Collins. I can remember the facts of having to move furniture back and forth but I don’t really remember the irritation or exhaustion of it all.  I remember having a hundred things to do each day but I have no idea what I was feeling other than excitement.  I think that this is the ONLY reason that entrepreneurs carry on.  We take the risks, we take the plunge, and we’re never, ever looking over our shoulders into the past to remember how it was the last time. We just can’t remember the pain.

So we lost our free internet connection in Loveland today and will remain in the coffee shop for many more weeks.  So we’ll be cold and need to wear jackets while we cowork. So we’ll be distracted by the weird music playing.  So what? The most important part about coworking is being together.  Just being together.  We did it at RMI2, we’ll do it at Dazbog and we’ll keep doing it until we crash their internet and use up all of their chairs!

Sure, I don’t really remember the pain of starting Cohere the first time around. I’m sure to forget the little quirks that Loveland has held so far.  But when we open in Denver next year, I’ll be just as excited and just as blissfully unaware of the past points of pain as I am today.

On coworking sustainability, urban workstyles and business model.

I’d like to share these views on coworking, with this presentation to be held in Florence, Italy, on Oct. 15th @Festival della Creatività.

Cowo® is the network of 21 spaces (and counting!) that is spreading around in the country since February 2009.

In particular, what I’d like to discuss is the “business sustainable” model we are trying to leverage, keeping break-even point to zero by exploiting existing spaces.

In other words, we are working on the consideration that opening cw spaces inside existing offices and keeping it very basic is a 100% revenue activity.

Thank you in advance for your attention and comments!

[slideshare id=2197582&doc=cowocarraro-091012081736-phpapp02]

How is coworking doing in Argentina?

Coworking in Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Coworking in Buenos Aires (Argentina)

It’s been a long time since my last post on the blog, so for those of you who don’t know we started Cowork Central back in November 2007, we were the first coworking space in Latin America and it is located in downtown Buenos Aires. Much has happened since our opening almost a year and a half ago and we wanted to share some of those thoughts and plans for the future with you.

Many spaces were created in Latin America during this time in the cities of: Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Montevideo (Uruguay), and as I can see from the Wiki right now, a lot more are being planned. This leads me to believe that the coworking movement is actually fitting very well into a very different culture as the northern countries (US, Canada, Europe) have.

Although during this time we had the pleasure of being interviewed by very important national and international press (NYTimes, The Globe and Mail, Clarín, El Cronista, La Razón, etc.) we had a somewhat difficult time trying to attract and evangelize local geeks to the coworking idea. Because of this, most of our members are international visitors that are staying for just a couple of months and then move on. On one hand this is actually pretty cool since it adds a lot of cultural value to the space and it’s members but on the other hand it’s not that good in the long term creation of the community. Reaching local individuals has been one of our most challenging tasks.

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure to visit some coworking spaces in the US (New York, San Francisco and Austin), had the chance to talk to the founders and members of such spaces and I came back with several ideas to implement here in the end of the world.

Open House (Jelly!)
Open House (Jelly!)

For the time being we are setting up our very first Jelly event. Again, this would be the first of it’s kind in Latin America. This event is scheduled for June 16th and our idea is that if this goes well, we might start hosting more Jelly’s to attracting more people to the coworking community.

Of course, if you happen to visit Buenos Aires, don’t forget to drop by, remember we are participating on the “coworking visaproject.

What does coworking do for me. A video interview from Italy.

After a few months of activity @ cowo milano, I finally managed to do something I’ve been trying to do for a long time: a video interview with a coworker, having him say what it’s like.

As I imagined, there’s nothing like the real thing… Davide tells the story in a way that couldn’be done better.

I don’t post the video because it’s in Italian (if you want to see it it’s here) but I do post the English transcription:

Question – Hi Davide! First of all, what’s your job?

Answer – Hi. I design sailing boats, racing ones.

Q. – Great. What’s your organization?

A. – We are a small company with two offices, one here in Milano, since April, and the other one in Amsterdam, where my partner is.

Q. – How does coworking work for you?

A. – It gives me the chance to have a very flexible work situation, fully serviced.
A place where I can work quietly. always connected to the web and also connected to other people.

Q. – In this respect, how did it feel for you to work side by side with professionals with a different background?

A. – Very interesting. Up to now I’ve always worked with other engineers, and it always ended up talking about the same stuff, which can get boring.
In a coworking situation one gets the chance to interact with people totally different. It’s fun to share your office with a novel writer, or an internet pro… different worlds, very interesting.

Q. – Is such a company making your working days more interesting, or would you rather sit in your own, private office?

A. – No, I’m very happy, actually. I think that for a small start-up it’s a good opportunity to have a coworking space, a less flexible situation would not have been good for me.
Coworking gave me the flexibility I need, also the freedom to renew my staying month by month, adapting to my needs, eventually involving other people in the company, in the cowo premises.
Such a flexibility isn’t easy to find, other than coworking.

Q. – As to interaction with your business partner, in Amsterdam?

A. – We work with Skype, always in touch, with earphones, triyng not to disturb other people here.

Q. – We haven’t mentioned your company’s name…

A. – It’s ST Yachts, in the internet: styachtdotcom.

Thanks a lot Davide!

Whitespace grand opening in Seattle!

What better way to kick off a new milestone in political history than to have a party for the grand opening of a new Coworking space in Seattle!

Join myself and my colleagues at Blue Flavor on Friday, November 14th as we launch Whitespace, a coworking space for professionals in Seattle who are passionate about their work, but tired of working alone at home or in noisy coffee shops. Think of it as a co-op artist and tech space. It’s also a great environment for relaxing and collaborating with like-minded people.

To RSVP for the event please do so on Upcoming or Facebook. You can also visit to learn more about the space and our rates.

Cowork the Vote: Share Your Election-Day Stories

It’s Election Day in these United States, and our more-than-five-dozen coworking spaces know it. Some have helped prepare, hosting and organizing open-source crowdsource election-monitoring tools. Others are hosting results-watching parties, offering incentives to visitors who have voted, or simply opening for business today.

Launchpad Coworkings mashup of the Obama campaign logo with Coworking
Launchpad Coworking's mashup of the Obama campaign logo with Coworking
  • Williamsburg Coworking, in a Jelly session at the “Change You Want to See” gallery in Brooklyn, New York, hosted a coding party last month, as blogged here, to foster development of the “Vote Report” project mashing up Twitter and Google Maps and creating mobile and web applications to support community-based reporting of election-day problems. They invited other Coworking spaces to be part of a nationwide day of coding parties October 24th.

    fervent coders at Williamsburg Coworking
    fervent coders at Williamsburg Coworking
  • BLANKSPACES in Los Angeles, California is not just hosting a party tonight to watch the returns come in (7-9 PM), it is offering “Free WiFi and a seat at the WorkBar” when you show your “I voted” sticker throughout the day.
  • The People’s Republic of Berkeley Coworking hosted a discussion of the myriad local and state ballot propositions on Sunday.
  • CubeSpace in Portland, Oregon is hosting regular “knitting night” as well as the Ruby Brigade this evening; either could be related to the election or to revolutions in coding, but the connection isn’t obvious.
  • Houston’s Caroline Collective hosted a book-signing Saturday for “One Nation Under Blog,” looking at the intersection of Web 2.0 and politics. The space was slated to host a viewing party for the final Presidential debate, but foul weather intervened.
  • Florida’s second Coworking community, CollabOrlando opened yesterday, in Orlando, Florida.
  • New Work City, which also just opened yesterday, is planning a results-viewing event, although not necessarily in the space (as of last report).
  • Julie Gomoll at Launchpad Coworking in Austin, Texas, while not yet open, has blogged about the connection between the citizen-driven democracy encapsulated in the Obama/Biden campaign and coworking. (she also invited President Obama to come by the space anytime he likes).
  • Seattleites can visit Office Nomads for an election-night viewing party tonight after hours, and bring a cupcake and candle if they like to celebrate the space’s recent first birthday.

As I help get out the vote around Philadelphia today, I’ll be stopping by Independents’ Hall to see if anything democracyesque is happening there. What’s your space doing (other than giving paid staff time off to vote, as required by law)? Are your members engaged in the political process? Please add your stories in the comments. Democracy Begins at Work.