Two Types of Coworking Founders

There are really only two types of coworking founders, with a variant for each, but in general just two types.

The first type is the founder who sees coworking as a business opportunity. They are WeWork, Regus, Tribes, Industrious, Coworkrs, and many others. Almost all take on the rhetoric that has become a pervasive lie in the industry. Collaboration. Startups. Funding. Community. Yet most, if not all, deliver very little of these for the average coworking member.

These behemoths (or behemoths-in-the-making) see the industry as something they can game. If only it can scale, if only it can scale, if only it can scale.

The second type is the founder who sees coworking as a way to get personal connection, community improvement, and civic development. I’d say they are in it for love, but it’s not just that. They are in it for something bigger than themselves. Yes, they want to make money, and they measure the correct metrics to ensure they do so, but the money is a means to an end, not the end in itself. They are Indyhall, Impact Hub, Hamilton House, and CO+HOOTS.

These small and large spaces, single and multi-location spaces, see the industry as something they can contribute to and learn from. If only they can connect, if only they can learn, if only they can survive long enough to make a difference.

Being either of these types of founders comes with different challenges, different allies and partners, and an entirely different set of rules. I think you know which side of the fence I fall on.

But there’s a third type, a variant of each. And that is the founder whose main goal is vanity.

The coworking founder with vanity in mind simply sees the trend and hops on board because “coworking is just so cool!” They find a space, sign a lease, tell everybody about how cool it is, and fail completely. Because they have no drive, no goal.

At the very least, the money-oriented founder is willing to make the tough decisions, the right hires, and analyze the business model in order to make as much money as possible. It’s not my cup of tea, but you can’t say it doesn’t work. You can’t say there’s no drive.

On the other hand the passion-driven founder is so generous, so connected to the community, and so in-tune with what their members truly want that they have little trouble figuring out what the next and right move is. They aren’t worried about being cool, they are constantly and consistently worried about making an impact on those they exist to serve.

So the point is: be in this for something more than how cool you look. Money is just fine. Impact is preferable. All I ask is that you show up for more than the photo ops.

Ryan Chatterton

I've spent the last several years in the coworking industry, from launching and running an Impact Hub location to building an education and events program at PARISOMA, and some stuff in between. Along the way I've learned first-hand what works and what doesn't, and I continue learning every day. I'm enthralled with the emerging world of work that's been enabled by coworking, bootcamps, and accelerators. For the first time in my life, I feel there is a chance for people to forge their own careers without dropping $40K+ on an education or being at the beck and call of a power-hungry manager for years on end. For the first time, I think there's a path that makes sense for the rest of us. Talk to me at and check me out on LinkedIn.