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Insights for Entrepreneurs

6 Ways Coworking Spaces Promote Community and Collaboration

Hopefully by now you’re familiar with the many benefits of coworking and collaborative work spaces. If not, be sure to read our post, “8 Perks of Coworking Spaces for Savvy Entrepreneurs.”  If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to join a coworking space, or if you can’t afford a full throttle membership, then at least check out some of the fun and educational events offered that will inspire you and connect you to people you want and need to meet.

1. Front Porch Conversations at Hypepotamus in Atlanta. GA

The porch is, and always will be, an integral part of Southern life; which may be why Atlanta’s Hypepotamus refers to its speaker series as Front Porch Conversations. Hypepotamus’ co-founders, Kevin Wallace and Heath Hyneman, grew up in Atlanta and are on a mission to build a collaborative community that supports start-ups and attracts more resources for them. During Front Porch Conversations, notable people from other cities share their insights and experiences.  Through its sibling series, Fireside Chats, successful Atlanta start-up leaders take center stage sharing the highs and lows of their personal journey. The most unique aspect of these events is the diversity of the audience.  College students, developers, designers, storytellers and innovators convene, which Wallace and Hyeman admit is 100% intentional.  Recent Front Porchers include Dr. Paul Judge, chief research officer at Barracuda Networks and co-founder and Chairman of Pindrop Security and David Cummings, co-founder of Pardot, which was recently acquired by ExactTarget.

2. Bounce Hours at Link Coworking in Austin, TX

They say it’s lonely at the top, and most will agree it’s also lonely on the ground floor (or garage) of any new venture.  While coworking spaces are an antidote to that lonely feeling, membership doesn’t promise attentive colleagues who will act as your sounding board.  Liz Elam, founder of Link Coworking and the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC), invented Bounce Hours to help members evaluate ideas and brainstorm solutions. Here’s how Bounce Hours work: On a Friday afternoon, members come together and form a circle.  Elam throws a beach ball to the group and whoever catches the ball first is allotted 5 minutes to bounce an idea or question off others.  Those listening provide succinct feedback and input.  When time is up, the beach ball is tossed to another member. After the group disperses, members seek out one another to continue the dialogue, making Bounce Hours a catalyst for collaboration.

3. Members Cook Lunch at Enerspace in Chicago, IL

When Enerspace owner Jamie Russo recently expanded her coworking space and added a kitchen, she had no idea members would volunteer to show off their chef skills by preparing lunch once a week. Approximately 15-30 members show up for the free Friday lunch.  But Russo believes the promise of free food is just the beginning.  While the coworker-chef peels, chops and dices, members gather around and the conversation gets cooking.   Inevitably, newly acquainted members’ initial exchanges about ingredients and favorite cuisine give rise to meatier discussions after lunch.

4. Food Truck Extravaganza at CO+HOOTS in Phoenix, AZ

There’s a new vibrancy in downtown Phoenix also known as the city’s newest entrepreneurial corridor.  Just as the name of Jenny Poon’s coworking space implies, CO+HOOTS collaborates with local businesses to entertain and enlighten its coworkers and the community.   Feeding into coworkers’ foodie culture plus knowing food trucks need hungry customers to grow their business, CO+HOOTS organizes a weekly food truck extravaganza on Wednesdays at 12pm.   Guests flock to check out the newest mobile eateries such as Hao Bao, the first Chinese food truck in Phoenix. As expected, the casual and fun format is the perfect environment for networking and introductions.

5. #Rethink Speaker Series at Grind in New York, NY

Think collaborative workspaces are just a place to park your laptop and grab a cup of joe? Think again. Benjamin Dyett, founder of Grind in New York City, feels it’s his responsibility to keep members up to date on the latest trends and technology.  Dyett personally seeks out industry disruptors to present at Grind’s monthly #Rethink speaker series.   Generally occurring on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, #Rethink begins at 8:30am with a 30-minute presentation and group discussion, followed by 30 minutes of networking before everyone heads off to work. Previous game-changing topics and speakers:  #Rethink The Interest Graph with Noah Brier, founder of Percolate, a thoughtful technology company  that helps brands create content at social scale and #Rethink Politics with Nathan Daschle, founder and CEO of Ruck.us, a second-generation social network for action.  Check out previous #Rethink events at the #Rethink Vimeo Channel.

6. Happy Hours with a Twist at NextSpace with 6 locations in California including Santa Cruz and San Francisco

It’s Friday afternoon at 3:58pm.  Do you know where your coworking friends are? Chances are they are hanging at one of NextSpace’s happy hours…with a twist.  Last week, NextSpace Santa Cruz partnered with the city’s Museum of Art and History by inviting guests to participate in a traveling Pop Up Museum.  The theme this time around was “Taking Risks.” People were encouraged to bring an object that symbolizes a risk taken or a risk on the horizon and share a story with others – kind of a grown up show-and-tell. Coming up on February 1st, NextSpace San Fran’s happy hour is brought to you by Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery (SPUD) and will feature a juicing seminar (spirits optional and highly recommended).  Plan on coming alone? No worries. The NextSpace staff will make introductions and make you feel at home.

Don’t get us wrong. Walk into any coworking space and you’ll see people working hard; sometimes into the wee hours of the night (or morning), which is probably why coworking space owners subscribe to the proverb, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

Have you attended a fun event at a collaborative workspace? Tell us about it.  Do you have a great idea for a coworking space event that would combine entertainment and socializing?

  • http://www.shawngraham.me Shawn Graham

    Great post. #2 can be a huge benefit and is often something startups overlook when sharing space. With the pressures of getting ramped up and trying to secure funding, it’s easy to be so focused on the day-to-day that you forget about trying to find a way to harness the collective brainpower of the entire group. It sounds like Bounce Hours could be a great way to keep that from happening.

  • http://thedeskdenver.com/ Kristian Barowsky

    We host an event each month called Beer+ – Colorado has a number of great craft breweries and very interesting people. A local brewery introduces the group to a special brew and discusses accomplishments, hurdles, pitfalls and inspirations that make this particular brew exciting. The “+” has to do with an interesting person discussing what they do. It is a “no pressure” form of networking. We provide the venue and the ice breaker and people generally leave with new contacts that happen organically as opposed to a speed dating format.