My First Coworking Space: A Short Tale About Going With Your Gut And Figuring it Out the Hard Way

My First Coworking Space: A Short Tale About Going With Your Gut And Figuring it Out the Hard Way

On a cold night in Winter 2012-2013 I posted the results of hours of work on my part, “remodeling” the coworking space I’d just started in Salt Lake City.

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Calling it a coworking space is a little interesting considering I really didn’t know much about coworking spaces at the time nor had I been to one.

Essentially what I did was rent a small corner in a warehouse and subletted desks to my friends and people I knew that were working on projects. My goal at the time wasn’t to make a profit. I wanted to work alongside people that were inspiring and intelligent.

There was something intuitive about the whole project. I knew in my gut that this was how I wanted to work and that others would want to work like this too. I started the space for all the fluffy reasons that people want to start cowokring spaces: community, collaboration, inspiration, etc.

Needless to say, without a clear plan and an embarrassingly small amount of experience, the space closed six months later.

What I learned

  • Bootstrapping a coworking space is a setup for failure unless you have amazing hookups in regards to space and construction work (your most expensive initial costs).
  • ISPs often don’t service buildings, especially the cool ones that have been vacant forever. It’s a huge cost (thousands of dollars) to get them to rebuild lines to the building, and sometimes they want you to foot the bill.
  • Having passion and following your gut is great, but you still need an effective marketing plan and sales strategy.

Detailed Starting Up Checklist Coming Soon

Whether it’s your first or fifth, this checklist will help you stay on top of things and avoid pitfalls down the line. It is filled with detailed, step-by-step to-do’s as you open a new coworking space.

Need help or have something to say?

I’d love to hear from you. If you have any specific questions or disagree with anything here, shoot me an email at [email protected]. I’d love to chat and help in any way I can.

Ryan Chatterton
[email protected]

Ryan is the founder of Coworking Insights, a coworking media platform focused on delivering unique and in-depth insights for coworking founders and their teams. He’s the Marketing Director at Habu, a quickly growing coworking management platform that is simple, fast, and intuitive for managing recurring billing, bookings, and other admin tasks. Formerly with Impact Hub and PARISOMA, Ryan now has over 4 years of combined experience in a variety of roles in the coworking industry, including marketing, events, operations, sales, software, and partnerships. He’s a digital nomad and a lover of wine and tacos.

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