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Yet Another (ex-)VC Blog

Cloud computing, startups, and venture capital

Your checklist for picking a startup co-working space

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I’ve been everywhere, man.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert’s bare, man.
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I’ve had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.

  — Johnny Cash, “I’ve Been Everywhere”

Startups and co-working spaces are like peaches and cream. They go so well together. And I’ve done a lot of co-working during my years in the startup ecosystem.

All of this co-working has given me some pretty strong opinions on which co-working space ‘features’ are most important for entrepreneurs.

Use this set of features as a rough checklist when you’re figuring out where you want to spend most of your waking hours during the earliest days of company building.

Free

This is the top feature if you’re an early stage startup.

Why?

It’s completely insane for an unfunded, cash burning early stage company to pay for office space.  In New York City and other startup hubs there are many co-working spaces that are 100% free.

Find them.

Other startups that are at the same stage as yours

…important for all of the following reasons:

  • Peer support – When you are having a crappy day (yes, it happens even though we entrepreneurs are ‘crushing it‘ all the time) it helps to have fellow founders around who can empathize with you.
  • Talent – If a startup in your co-working space has to fold or downsize (not uncommon), their team will be keen to help their former team members find new gigs. Like most early stage startups you’re looking for good people. Need I say more?
  • Service provider recommendations – Startups are always looking for recommendations about which freelance developers, designers, lawyers (you name it) they should be using. You can get in person, in depth recommendations from the other startups working in your space.

Investors hang out there

If you’re a startup and you plan to raise money you need to start building your investor network. If investors are spending time at your co-working space you’ll get to meet them in passing. That’s your foot in the door later on when you decide to formally start your fundraising process. (Remember, “Lines, not dots“.)

Not to mention that startup investors are very well networked. If you’re looking to get a bead on a certain sector of the market they can be a great resource to tap.

Silence!

Hopefully this is not the volume level at your co-working space.

Co-working is nice because you are around a lot of people. And co-working can be extremely unproductive for the same reason.

Sure, you can bring your big ol’ noise canceling headphones to work every day. But it’s just easier if the default sound level in the space is Low.

A leader who cares

The founders and managers of the best co-working spaces go out of their way to help the startups that work there.

Running a co-working space is not about collecting rent for them. It’s about building more companies.

Alumni who have gone on to bigger and better things

Startups will “graduate” from co-working spaces into accelerator programs, or they’ll outgrow a space because they’re hiring quickly.

You should give some weight to the success of the alumni that have come out of the space when you’re thinking about where to put down roots.

After all, you want your startup to eventually graduate from co-working. Don’t you?

 

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Written by John Gannon

July 5, 2014 at 9:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

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