So I am in the midst of doing something a bit crazy and a bit wonderful at the same time. I am opening a coworking space in Loveland, OH called Locolo. It is a bit crazy because it has very little chance of being profitable, I have very little free time in my life to devote to such an undertaking, and I work full-time with awesome folks so I wouldn’t even be there during the day. Despite these very pragmatic reasons for not doing it, somewhere along the way I said F*** IT, I am doing it anyway. This blog post is an attempt to explain why.
I want a coworking space to exist.
Coworking has changed my life. About three years ago, I became independent and starting doing development work out of my house. I found myself feeling increasingly lonely and isolated, working alone at my kitchen table day after day. I heard of a coworking space close to downtown called Cincy CoWorks, started by the visionaries Gerard Sychay and Bill Barnett. I joined and started going down there to work a few days a week. It was wonderful. Work became fun again. They day was peppered with serendipitous encounters and conversations the sparked my imagination and curiosity. I got involved in the Ruby community, usergroups, and eventually became part of the EdgeCase (and now Neo) company that makes me happy every day. In fact, the people that I met coworking are still an important part of my life today. So when I heard that Cincy Coworks suspended operations, I was a bit sad. I was sad that there was no longer an environment where the coworking magic could live. I had a small thought germinate in the back of my head then, that I would like to open a coworking space one day.
Someone told me it could not be done.
Sometimes there are clear catalysts in life. For me, it was someone telling me that a successful coworking space in Cincinnati could not be done. They may be right. I don’t know. But I do know, that the moment I heard that, something changed. I have this little part of me that can’t stand it when someone tells me I can’t do something. In fact, it is most likely one of the reasons that went into software development in the first place. That little part of me went a grabbed that small thought about starting a coworking place and dragged it out to the front where I couldn’t ignore it any more and said - DO IT.
A Lean Experiment
Serendipity happens. I had just finished reading Eric Ries’s book, The Lean Startup. It is a great book and highly recommend it. The main idea is using scientific methods for businesses. It got me thinking about what a coworking MVP, (minimun viable product), would be. I started looking around at spaces in Loveland just for fun, and stumbled into to one that would be perfect. I discovered The Loveland Art Studios on Main, a old school building turned into mostly art studios, but also housed a gym, spinning center, and training field for kids. The rent was very reasonable, had a 6 month lease, and already had wifi throughout the building. It was too perfect to pass up. I defined a hypothesis and experiment on the spot.
Hypothesis: There are enough people in the North and East part of Cincinnati interested to support a self-sustaining coworking space. Experiment: Open a small coworking space for 6 months Metrics: Monthly income - Monthly expenses
If at the end of the 6 months, the hypothesis is proven incorrect, I will accept my outcome and close up shop. However, even if the experiment is not successful, I will be capturing metrics on this and other experiments to save as artifacts to share with others that come after me. Hopefully, it will make it better and easier for the next person to launch coworking spaces. If you are interested in monthly updates on my metrics and experiments, ping me, and I will happily add you to my monthly distribution list.
Doing something you believe in
I don’t think this part needs much explaining. Doing something you believe in is worthwhile just in itself. Enough said.
Getting involved in the community is magic
Starting up a coworking space is all about building community. The very act of building something together creates magic. I am so thankful for all the people that have pitched in a helped me with their advice, encouragement, and assistance so far. Shout outs to Bill Barnett, Gerard Sychay, Paul Heinrich, Jacki Keys, Elizabeth Naramore, Chris Moore, Rob Biederhorn, Mason Stewart, and others. You all rock. really.
An Excuse for a Biscuit Tasting
One of the fun perks of running a coworks is you get to have Open Houses and other excuses to eat biscuits. When I say “biscuits”, I mean biscuits in the British form, that translates into American as “delicious cookies”. So if you are in Cincinnati, sign up for the Open House of Locolo. Where you can not only see the space and meet awesome people, but also rate various cookies on important factors such as dunkablility and crunchiness.
Thanks & Toodles for now,