There’s an awkward time in the life of a startup, when the idea outgrows the garage but maybe isn’t quite ready to commit to anything long-term. It may be time to graduate, but not yet time to settle down—as an entrepreneur, you want to focus on the project, not real estate. Enter “Coworking”.
Coworking is a flexible working environment that can provide a variety of spaces and resources, from common office environments and meeting rooms to specialized equipment and networks. In addition to the new enterprise, coworking can offer a convenient meeting space for the home office professional, and might even provide a relief from the social isolation of going solo. Where private “executive suites” may offer a desk and a phone, coworking tends to be more of a cooperative, collaborative space—coworking is very much about creating a culture of creativity.
DurangoSpace on Main Street in Durango, Colorado, is a model the City of Aztec, New Mexico, has been looking at adapting for their proposed Aztec Hub project. DurangoSpace offers flexible daily, weekly, and monthly memberships to use their common office environment with broadband internet connectivity, teleconferencing and small to large meeting rooms. They also have a waiting list for private offices, offered on contract. At their recent 4th Anniversary open house, I met an amazing variety of people using the space, from two partners in a software startup networking with a team of engineers in the Ukraine, to an oil & gas worker putting in 10-hour days in the field then coding his startup four hours every afternoon at DurangoSpace. I also heard about professionals from other Four Corners communities using the office as their touchstone close to the Durango airport, allowing them to live and work in more isolated parts of this mountainous rural region.
The project in Durango is somewhat unique among coworking operations. They occupy an entrepreneurial middle ground, but keep strong connections with local business incubators, Ft. Lewis College Small Business Development Center, and the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs (SCAPE), with strong support from Region 9 Economic Development District. The broadband component is a major draw in Durango, where service in the rest of the community is lagging. The Main Street location, in the transition between retail hot spots downtown and the traditional neighborhoods of this college town, also provides a variety of restaurants and other 3rd places for creative gatherings and off-site meetings.
Jasper Welch, a co-founder, emphasized with me that flexibility and adapting to local conditions are key to long-term success. As it is in any organization.