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Summary:

Coworking is a well-established trend in some areas, yet as coworking spaces expand into new cities, the owners need to educate people about the benefits and engage in some creative marketing to lure entrepreneurs in.

Working Alone

Here at WebWorkerDaily coworking is a well established trend we’ve covered in many different ways. And certainly, if you travel to Berlin, San Francisco or any other buzzing city with plenty of young, entrepreneurial residents, you’ll find no shortage of supporters of the concept. But has the idea really taken root as firmly as certain coast-dwellers believe?

As I’ve interviewed owners of newly established co-working spaces recently, the answer appears to be: not really. Craig Baute, who opened Creative Density in Denver just a few months ago, for example, told us that for his fledgling space, “awareness is the biggest problem.”

Several coworking spaces already exist in Denver and while some of them might be skeptical of the new competition, Baute insisted that it’s ignorance — not each other — that they should be worried about. “Coworking spaces in cities can work together because they’re not in competition with each other. The biggest competition is concept awareness,” he said.

And if you think Baute has it bad when it comes to getting the word out in Denver, spare a thought for Noelle Stary, co-founder of Launchpad Creatives in suburban New Jersey. She recently visited an event put on by her local Small Business Administration and spoke to the group’s president after the event. Here’s what happened:

I’m talking to him about, hey, we’re big believers in what entrepreneurs are doing, and we start talking about coworking spaces, and the president of the Small Business Administration is like, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I have never even heard of the word.

“Clearly coworking is very big in London. It’s really big in New York,” says Stary, but you mention “co-working spaces in New Jersey and people in suburbia are like, what is this? I don’t get it.”

All for one and one for all

So what are these newly founded spaces doing to raise their profile. Both Baute and Stary are banding together with other local spaces to pool their powers and attract attention. Before moving to Denver, Baute was involved in the coworking movement in Toronto where, as he says:

We were planning a coworking week where all of our members could move between the spaces — we thought that might get some media attention — then also banding together to create a Toronto coworking pass where you can just buy a ten-day punch card and go to all the other spaces.

Now he hopes to bring something similar to Colorado. And Stary has similar plans in the works for New Jersey’s coworking spaces, including a regional coworking alliance to raise awareness. “We’re actually going to try and set up a coworking visa that you could purchase from the coworking alliance,” she explained. With the visa, members could use their choice of spaces within a 40-mile radius.

Matchmaking for entrepreneurs

Stary and her business partner Eric Duchin have also come up with another creative way to raise the profile of the movement — they’re offering to match entrepreneurs who use their space with a local college student willing to serve as an eager intern. It’s a win for everyone involved, explained Stary, as harried entrepreneurs get some extra help (and a place to work with the intern that isn’t their living room), young people get a hands-on learning opportunity and coworking gets some new converts. “We’ve gotten a huge response,” Stary told us.

They’re even thinking of scaling up the service by offering to pair entrepreneurs and interns at other coworking spaces through the wonders of technology. Stary explains: “It basically would be almost like a Match.com. Here are the interns. Here are the entrepreneurs. You pick who you want and you can set that up through the different types of coworking spaces.”

Coworking is one form of the changing concept of the “office” from an 8-to-5 day at corporate HQ to a more fluid and dynamic workspace. We’ll discuss this in-depth at our upcoming event Net:Work on December 8.

Image courtesy of Flickr user {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}, CC 2.0.

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  1. Creative Density Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Thanks for the mention. Creative Density openned in June and we have grown to just over 15 members in the last few months. I’m in talks with the other coworking spaces in Denver and in Colorado and hope to work together with some soon. I look forward to seeing what others are doing in collaboration with other spaces.

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