Step into WeWork, a downtown Austin location where hundreds of entrepreneurs share office space over three floors, and you can immediately feel the excitement.
The creative energy is palpable and contagious. It’s where bright, motivated — and highly caffeinated — people work to make their dreams of business success come true.
And it sure beats the heck out of working at a kitchen table or in a spare bedroom beside that dusty treadmill.
WeWork, one of several shared space facilities catering to entrepreneurs in the capital region, offers a variety of office options for fledgling enterprises, from a one-person model to a six-person suite with skyline views of Austin. Others opt for what the company calls WeMemberships, which provide access to common areas rather than dedicated desks, and allow members to connect with a global network of WeWorkers via their WeWork app.
“As opposed to traditional offices, the monthy rate our members pay is exponentially lower… and that’s made possible by the creativity density that’s inside spaces like these,” says Nick Clark, founder of Common Desk, another Austin-based shared space provider.
Entrepreneurial camaraderie and the chance to interact with potential partners is one key advantage of shared business spaces. Another is avoiding initial expenses for equipment, utilities, furniture or cleaning crews — all the things that come with setting up a business location. The idea is to allow users to concentrate on growing their business stress-free, without the distractions that could take their eyes off their vision.
Shared spaces filled with like-minded entrepreneurs also lead to ad hoc focus groups, where strategies, products and services can be tested and feedback can be sought. That’s particularly attractive to larger companies, which also find WeWork provides opportunities not found at corporate headquarters.
WeWork members, who pay on a monthly basis, can use the facility’s fully equipped conference rooms and deck patio, and attend events that periodically bring in venture capitalists to check out what they’re bringing to the marketplace.
In Texas, Austin is the epicenter of this trend toward “millennial communes” where tomorrow’s Fortune 500 companies are being nurtured, but they’re beginning to appear throughout the state. Notes Carly Langley, senior sales lead at WeWork’s Congress Avenue location, “We just opened an office in Dallas and have plans for more.”
And the pump is primed for shared spaces in Houston as well. Station Houston’s Meghan Zarate says “Our coworking space is plugging startup technology companies into the already robust energy and medical industries that exist in Houston. In the last two months alone, Station Houston membership has jumped from 60 to more than 170.” FN