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Summary:

What’s it like running a coworking space? Can you make money doing it? Over on GigaOM Pro (subscription required), Imran’s written an interesting article that takes an in-depth look at the journey taken by two coworking space: IndyHall and Fly The Coop.

What’s it like running a coworking space? Can you make money doing it? Over on  GigaOM Pro (subscription required), Imran’s written an interesting article that takes an in-depth look at the journey taken by two coworking spaces: Philadelphia’s Independents Hall (also known as IndyHall), and UK-based Fly The Coop, in Manchester.

In the article, Imran shares some key figures, such as the costs of running each space, and in the case of IndyHall, some fairly detailed revenue and profit/loss figures. One thing is clear from looking at the figures — coworking spaces run on very tight margins.

To help boost their bottom line, coworking spaces need to look for additional revenue streams, but in a way that doesn’t adversely impact impact on their members — because these spaces are, effectively, communities. This is something that Imran has written about here on WWD before, and previously suggested:

  • Charging drop-ins a small “pay as you go” fee for daily use, rather than the member’s traditional “pay monthly” subscriptions.
  • Reselling web hosting or magazine/service/software subscriptions.
  • Providing externally-sourced legal and accounting expertise, where suppliers pay referrals for access to the community.
  • Providing innovative nutrition services from companies such as Graze.
  • Leasing and renting meeting space to non-members for modest fees.
  • Hosting “master classes” and training courses for local businesses.

What other innovative ways could coworking spaces boost their revenues without impacting their members?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub req.): By The Numbers: Running a Coworking Space

Photo by Flickr user hyku, licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

  1. As the owner of a web hosting company for 6 years (sold in 2007), reselling web hosting is not the easy cash cow many seem to think it is, and reselling web hosting isn’t a great idea unless you have significant technical expertise AND are ready to constantly answer questions about people’s email not working.

    It’s not exactly an awesome job.

    -Erica

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    1. Hi Erica, this article’s not about web hosting, but about “coworking”, a model of work where independent workers share their physical workspace.

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    2. Ooops! Really sorry Erika! I didn’t see that you were commenting on the bullet point regarding web hosting… until I read further down to Lee’s additiona comments!!

      My apologies :)

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  2. Some coworking spaces have had sponsorship or partnerships with other local or related companies.

    Other option could be a paid for classifieds or job board. Or a small scale and paid for social network.

    Referrals are difficult because it is hard to keep track. Better to have someone sponsor or host an event that will profit the coworking space.

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    1. The most commercially viable coworks I’ve seen have had a large sponsor-in-kind; for example Old Broadcasting House here in Leeds (UK), is largely backed by a local university. They see a cowork as an accelerator for enterprising students who get indirect mentoring…and local talented workers get a low-cost coworking community.

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  3. Charge artists a small fee to hang their art, with a sale price, in the space. This refreshes the walls and offers a service to art community
    Teach a “Best Practices of CoWorking” class on Saturdays. Show how to be a remote worker.
    Offer classes about remote working to companies that have virtual worker programs.
    Build a web site that allows co-workers to order food from local businesses for delivery while they are working in the space. Charge restaurants to join the web site. Maybe open the web site up to general public.
    Provide concierge services to co-workers such as “we scan your business cards into a contact list” or “we’ll enter your expenses into your expenses software for you”.
    Partner with local university and offer business writing classes during off hours.
    Allow the cellular companies to come in and educate on the new smartphones they are offering and get a referral agreement.
    Hold classes on computers for seniors.
    Allow the local AA or local support groups to use the space outside of business hours. Give them a key and stock the brochures regarding your other offerings for them to take with them.
    Build a running/biking/drinking club around the membership.
    Offer assistance purchasing domains, setting up e-mail, etc.
    Become a space used by the Small Business Association to assist people with their startups. Support their small businesses and they will support yours.

    Erica’s right…hosting is a huge drain. Don’t do hosting unless its via a referral agreement with a local hosting company.

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    1. I love your idea of exhibiting local art and outreach programmes to larger companies. The food thing is one I’d like to experiment with – on the whole these suggestions are great, but require either a dedicated staff member to run/resource things or for coworkers to contribute a portion of their time.

      At Cubes & Crayons, coworkers do volunteer time for childcare, so its perhaps a workable model, that’s in line with the values of the global coworking community.

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  4. Providing magazines that no other place in town has (not even the libraries)
    provide workshops on various issues (social media use, elevator pitching) for small fee
    do livestreaming of conferences (as we did with Humanity+ back in June) and provide conversation and transform ideas from there with viewers
    provide talking circles on specific issues in order to help create the future
    do Birthgiving Sessions for customers together with CoWorkers (such as 24-hours challenges, customer gives a complex issue he wants to be solved, you as a team provide several alternatives)
    do startup promotions like @massinno in Boston

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