Just as different companies have different cultures that attract different employees, so do different coworking spaces have differing cultures that attract differing audiences.
Take Work Hive in Salt Lake City for example. Work Hive attracts members who want a relatively calm, quiet, beautiful, yet professional place to hunker down and do work. It attracts professionals, usually more mature professionals. As one of there members put it, “We’re just here to get shit done. It’s great working with such amazing people, but we don’t want to chit chat all the time.” Work Hive has a monthly happy hour, but the food is often homemade, the beer is local, and it usually only lasts an hour before people head home or go back to work. All the other events are quite professionally focused. No beer pong here.
Contrast that with Startup House in San Francisco. Startup House is a coliving and coworking space, the fact of which immediately changes your perception of the culture and audience. But what’s more, the member base is primarily made up of young startup founders or developers working at nearby startups. They also only do a happy hour once per month, but are likely to have a DJ, pizza, and as much cheap beer as they can muster up. Totally different vibe.
These two are both coworking spaces, they both create connections, they both contribute to the greater community in one way or another. Yet they do so in entirely different ways because they are entirely different. A member from one space wouldn’t feel comfortable at all at the other space.
It may seem like I’m beating a dead horse these days, but all coworking spaces are not alike. I think it was Alex Hillman that said, “the word coworking is like the word restaurant.” As in, there is no standard coworking space, just as there is no such thing as a standard restaurant. The depth and breadth of possibilities are too many to count for there to be a “standard.”
You do not need to go after startups or startup culture. In fact, in most cities, you’re probably either too late or too early to the party, or you’re too disconnected from the centers of activity (investors, schools, etc.) to actually be a viable leader of the startup culture (it doesn’t stand for pretenders long). Instead go after a different culture and audience, or create your own.
What about food, hardware, fashion, finance, music, fabrication, design, art, beverages, outdoors/adventure, travel, furniture, tourism, politics/civic engagement, or energy? All of these are entirely viable options for cowokring/shared workspaces in many major cities. Find a culture and audience that you can connect and be the hub for, instead of trying to invent one or elbow your way into one you have no business being in.
I believe in you. You can create a kickass culture around something far more interesting and generic than “startups.”