Startups now have six 'coworking' places to call home

Is entrepreneurship becoming a big business? Coworking venues from across the United States pool their resources.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Lately, "coworking spaces" -- shared office environments that provide desk and conference room space, Internet connections, social connections, and counseling for professionals, entrepreneurs and startups -- have been the rage.  In a rough-and-tumble economy with limited or tenuous job opportunities, entrepreneurship and startups are seen as the most viable (and often more interesting) career path.

Coworking spaces cater to this new way of work, with temporary and long-term leasing arrangements, often within the funkiest city neighborhoods.  For example, there's General Assembly, a 20,00-spuare-foot coworking space at 902 Broadway in Manhattan, which now has 350 members, representing 100+ early-stage startups, selected through an application and interview process.  Then there's NextSpace, with four locations throughout California.

Now, it appears coworking spaces are becoming somewhat of a big business in their own right. A group of coworking spaces are pooling their collective efforts. Six of these venues have teamed up to form "The League of Extraordinary Coworking Spaces," which includes a "coworking loyalty" program within the US. Members of any LEXC venue now pop in at any other venue in the network.

There are currently six founding venues participating, including: NextSpace; BLANKSPACES in Los Angeles; Link Coworking in Austin; WorkBar in Boston; CoCo coworking and collaborative space in Minneapolis and St. Paul; and 654 Croswell in Grand Rapids.

Such efforts provide startups with an immediate national reach. We may be in a digital economy, but physical location and proximity still make a difference.

SmartPlanet's Sumi Das, in the video below, looks at Dogpatch Labs, which has several locations, including Dublin, Boston and Palo Alto.  Interaction and sharing knowledge is critical to people, says Ryan Spoon, a VC with Polaris Ventures and co-founder of Dogpatch Labs "People who are drawn to being here believe that participating with a larger set of people makes them more valuable, more productive," says Spoon.

(Photo: CoCo, St. Paul, Minn.)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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