This is a guest blog post by District Cowork member Christopher Abelt – who is Co-Founder / Managing Director of Sagg Creek Marketing – a strategic business growth consultancy and digital marketing services firm.
I must admit that it took me a little while to get used to co-working a few years ago, after many years of having an office with a door and a window with a nice view. But as a start-up entrepreneur, with sights set on integrating with the NYC emerging growth company scene, I needed to get engaged with the new world order of co-working.
My first co-working experience was mostly with young developers, 90% men who lived to drink Red Bull and write code late into the night. It was an open seating office with frankly limited interaction among the members.
I can’t complain because I learned to write Swift IoS code and met my start-up co-founder there. But the sum-total of the “community” was pizza and beer a couple of times a month. Not exactly terms of endearment.
About a year ago I decided to move offices, so I went to check out available co-working spaces in the Flat Iron / Nomad area of Manhattan near the heart of Silicon Alley.
I found each co-working office in the area had a distinct personality. Some felt like a blown-out version of a college student union, with nearly frenetic motion of workers and a high ambient noise level.
Others seemed to favor the less-is-more design approach with lots of bare walls, concrete floors and open seating with expensive conference rooms, and the need to retreat to a “phone booth” to take or make a phone call. The “community” offered at all seemed like a nice idea, but I saw scant evidence of it at most places.
Then I came to an event at District Cowork. I met nice, smart and interesting people. I made some contacts that then turned into paying clients. There was a good energy level there, and it seemed like most people were there to get some serious work done.
Here are some things I recommend keeping in mind when shopping for a co-working space:
- Location: Is it easy to get to? In a cool up-and-coming neighborhood? Have decent places to eat nearby? Convenient to mass transit (subways / rail stations)?
- Other Members: The community. Are they people you’d enjoy being with day-in and day-out? Is it engaging, interesting and diverse from a professional, gender and age perspective?
- Management: Are they present? Or are you left in the care of a twenty-something community manager that only excels at being perky and cheerful?
- Events: Do they hold professional events (on a regular basis) that are varied in terms of subject matter / format and attract an interesting crowd?
So – I decided to set up shop at District based on the above criteria. Over the past year I’ve attended dozens of events and feel like I am at home in a community of like-minded people. I’ve met people that have actually become business clients. The Q train makes it a breeze to get there (two blocks from Herald Square) and my clients enjoy visiting my office.
My business is flourishing and I am having fun there. Isn’t that what it’s all about?