Gainesville CoWork offers an office setting, minus the expense
Published: Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 5:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 5:08 p.m.
Before Gainesville CoWork opened, New York Life financial services agent Sam Julien would meet a client at Starbucks or somewhere to write a new account, drive to Target Copy to make copies and drive to the post office to mail the paperwork.
Gainesville CoWork grand opening ceremony and business showcase,
3-8 p.m., Jan. 17
3951 NW 48th Terrace, Suite 201, in Magnolia Parke
He can now walk over from the nearby Starbucks to handle copying and mailing at the shared workspace and he is increasingly meeting clients there.
"It's probably doubled my productivity just by spending less time in a car," he said.
Gainesville CoWork offers a place for people who need a professional office setting but aren't ready for the expense and commitment of their own office. Users can pay a membership fee for free or reduced prices on a private office or common area seating, conference rooms, a phone line, secure high-speed Internet, copies and prints, and a receptionist, or nonmembers can pay for what they use for the day.
Memberships start at $1,080 annually or $100 a month for an individual. One-day use is $25 for the common area or $50 for a private office.
Gainesville CoWork was founded by Peter West, who worked out of his house or a coffee shop when he started his information technology business, Staunch Systems, and was looking for a professional place to meet clients.
West did not need the support services offered by business incubators such as the Santa Fe Center for Innovation and Economic Development or the University of Florida Innovation Hub, but was not established enough to get his own space.
Once he was able to get his own space, he decided to share it with Gainesville CoWork to give others in a similar situation a place to do business when they needed it.
CoWork opened in the early fall.
Julien was the first customer. He uses the common area about four days a week and last month used a conference room to hold a seminar about estate planning and life insurance.
"It fills a really good niche for the nonstartup, independent contractor kind of person," Julien said. "The whole pay-for-what-you-use is a great model for people who might only be in town for a couple days a week. That's why it's attractive to insurance. If you're out in the field making sales calls, you might only come to the office a couple days a week."
Co-working spaces have been popping up nationwide in recent years. About a dozen have opened or are planned in South Florida, the Miami Herald reported.
With the economy struggling, people are trying to create their own jobs, said David Kim, CoWork account manager.
And the push for innovation means people with great ideas also need places to get started, said Kristen Mankosa, spokeswoman for CoWork.
"The incubators are there to help you. We're here for the next step, for the people who are working independently," she said.
Many co-work spaces are geared toward providing a collaborative environment for technology start-ups, such as the Founders Pad in downtown Gainesville.
With many local techies attracted to downtown, Gainesville CoWork in Magnolia Parke in northwest Gainesville has attracted professional services.
ProActive Tax & Accounting has leased a private office that it staffs one or two days a week.
Beth Davies said they wanted to be the resident accounting firm since CoWork is geared toward startup and growing businesses.
"That's exactly who we're trying to reach," she said.
The location also allows her to keep a presence in Gainesville for clients who balked at her move to Jonesville after partnering with Pam Burns.
Brian Shey, an insurance broker for SterlingWyatt, leased a private office because he wanted a secure location when he is traveling for his work as an NCAA basketball referee or when he is working out of his other office in Charlotte, N.C.
"I'm really only in town two, three days a week," he said. "For a smaller company, it just makes a lot of sense to be able to have a location, but when you start looking at paying rent, the overhead of electric, cable, phone, Internet and then it all rolls into one, it becomes very affordable to be able to do this."