Brooklyn's Finest

Williamsburg Coworking Space The Yard Takes on General Assembly, Plans a Continuing Ed Program

Do we detect a beef?
 Williamsburg Coworking Space The Yard Takes on General Assembly, Plans a Continuing Ed Program

(Photo: The Yard)

Back in February, Betabeat introduced you to The Yard, a freshly-opened coworking space in Williamsburg that we minted the “General Assembly of Brooklyn.” Turns out we’re psychic, because today The Yard announced that–just like its Manhattan competitor, GA–it will be offering continuing education courses in subjects like programming and biz dev, beginning this fall. All at “Brooklyn prices,” no less!

“We really want to cultivate a culture here that is cutting edge and innovative and collaborative,” Andy Smith, The Yard’s PR and curriculum coordinator, told Betabeat by phone. “It seems like now that we’re at a point where we are full, we can sort of branch out and extend our efforts to other aspects to cultivate that culture. Educational initiatives seemed like the next natural step.”

The Yard differentiates itself from other coworking spaces by offering over 90 private suites for rent. Highly hyped startups like Uber and Wanderfly have made the converted factory their home away from home, and Mr. Smith assured us that there’s currently a waiting list for new coworkers.

The Yard doesn’t have all of the logistics of the new curriculum figured out just yet. “We’re still playing with a price point on the different classes,” said Mr. Smith. “We’re still curating the curriculum, but we plan to offer one-time workshops—2-3 hour experiences–as well as longer courses. We’re also talking with some really qualified teachers to even go a step beyond that and offer intensive 10 or 12 week programs on software, iOS–more hands-on, heavy duty tech and programming.”

Of course, the Flatiron-based General Assembly possesses similar offerings and is far more established than the 7-month-old Yard. But Mr. Smith thinks the Yard’s location in Brooklyn provides it with a unique advantage.

“What GA does is great, but we’re in Brooklyn,” he confided. “There’s a whole other world in Brooklyn that maybe is a little bit fresher and a little bit riskier.”

What do you mean by riskier, we asked?

“I think the two boroughs attract different types of people and different types of startups,” explained Mr. Smith, who has lived in Williamsburg for eight years. “I think Brooklyn has become a global name and now people are starting to tune into Brooklyn on this tech level, this startup level, where you don’t need to pay Manhattan prices for office space and you don’t have to pay Manhattan prices for classes like some place at GA.”

We were starting to sense a Brooklyn/Manhattan beef, tech style. Mr. Smith explained that “we’re not renting a floor on Broadway near the Flatiron, so our overhead is lower and we can pass that savings onto our students.”

In true nouveau Brooklyn fashion, Mr. Smith then launched into detail about the renovations of the converted warehouse that now serves as The Yard’s HQ.

“Anyone who comes by here can see that we’ve kept that environment of the original space. The archictect that we used to build this place out did it in an as efficient and green way as possible. We really tried to repurpose the building and cut costs everywhere we could and keep it as creative as possible.”

Because of that, Mr. Smith added, “we have the opportunity to perhaps offer something similar to places in the city, but for maybe a little bit less.”

Ah, yes, the “Brooklyn is cheaper” argument. Wonder what our friends at the New Jersey Tech Meetup have to say about that.

To help beef up its impending courseload, The Yard is looking for teaching candidates and applications for curriculum. You can get in touch with them if you’re interested.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com