Like most coworking spaces this too was created out of necessity. In 2011 I got my first remote job. I started out working in a basement with a pretty decent setup. I was set for success.
After about 2 months though, the honeymoon phase was over and I was working in a basement by myself. So I started meeting an old coworker who also started working remotely at a Coffee shop every Friday morning. Eventually there were four or five people meeting on Fridays so I started a meetup group called Cowork Btown. We quickly started meeting two or three days a week. Before I knew it we were meeting every day.
The community was great but working from coffee shops was not. Having a large group meet at coffee shops comes with a lot of challenges. Can we find a table big enough for everyone? Probably not. Will we have access to power? Probably not unless we get there really early. Will the internet be terribly slow? Yes. Will it be too loud for me to make a call? Yes. The struggle was real.
So it became quite obvious we needed an office. At first we went out to look for an office for the 3-5 regulars. One tweet mentioning we were looking for office space changed that plan. We quickly had 10+ people wanting to join our office search and we realized the opportunity. Three short months later, with a couple small hiccups, and we were open for coworking!
We were very scrappy. We built our firsts desks from local rough cut lumber. We found a friend that had a plainer and we glued up the desk tops ourselves. Finalized by a road trip to Ikea for legs. We finished out the space with several second hand furniture pieces, custom made poster frames, and we did all the painting.
We also ended up with another bootstrapped local startup Uel Zing Coffee Shop as our kneighbor. They were a great neighboor to have and it was great to have a coffee shop right there next to us!
In that first, humble space, we found the core of our community. The members who weren't there for just a workspace but a real third place with a community. The members who took out the trash, setup a spotify playlist, brought in cookies for everyone and anything else you'd do for your friends. Those 10-15 members at our first space will always have a special place in all the co-founders hearts.
We actually made the first set of desks for the original cowork office our selves. We made those desks from rough cut local wood. We plained the wood, cut them to length, glued the tops together and then finished them. It was a lot of work but they actually turned out great.
The second time around we had a professional carpenter take care of it. The wood was still local rough cut wood. We also finished and moved the giant 500 lb desks our seleves. The results were amazing though. They are some of the most beautiful desks I've ever seen.
Roughcut wood from local sawmill.
Desk assembled and sealed ready to be moved.
In the office the desks looked amazing. The best finishing touch was the center area had legos and plants.
Today I can take little credit for where cowork is. Forrest and Tyler, the other founders took the space and community to our ultimate goal. Coworks acquired by The Dimension Mill, which is a coworking space and small business incubator that was funded by our city and other great organizations. It's now everything we dreamed it would be and will live on for a long time. It's great to know I played a roll in that happening in our city.
Cofounding a coworking space was an amazing experience! It sure wasn't easy though. There were many late nights, hours of painting, building desks, long drives to Ikea, moving furniture, lunch runs to IU Surplus store, hosting open house events and countless other tasks. But the payoffs have been truly amazing. The best part is meeting the amazing people that I certainly wouldn't have met if I were still in that basement. It's also a great feeling to help create something that has made my home town just a little better. In the end that's all I could ever have asked for.