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.”
Cowork With Me?
Others have tried and failed to make a coworking space grow in Williamsburg. (The Makery is dead! Long live, Bnter’s new office!) But “real estate professionals” and born-and-raised Brooklynites Morris Levy and Richard Beyda may have the home-court advantage. The duo opened The Yard, a 14,000 square foot coworking space, in November and are already at 65 percent capacity.
A number of tech companies, including Hype Machine, Wanderfly, Mobile Roadie and Uber are already working out of the space, as well as a few startups still in splash page mode, like Gander TV and Spotflux. Somewhere between 60 to 70 percent of The Yard‘s residents are techies, although that wasn’t exactly the owners’ intention. “We knew there was a need in Williamsburg/Greenpoint for something like this, but we didn’t realize the tech scene was happening here and that that was the direction it was going to go,” Mr. Levy told Betabeat by phone.
Now that the startup syngery is under way, however, The Yard has been “planning strategic alliances” with angel investors whose portfolio companies might be interested in working there. For example, Mr. Levy said he’s currently in talks with Brooklyn Bridge Ventures founder and First Round Capital alum Charlie O’Donnell, who launched a Kings County-centric seed fund last month.
Leave it to Observer friend and alum Laura Kusisto to rectify the cold shoulder The Wall Street Journal has been turning toward Silicon Alley’s very own co-working movement with some big news, potentially of the world historical variety.
WeWork has apparently locked down 74,000 sq. ft. on 175 Varick Street near the Holland Tunnel to give techie types a shared space away from home. It boasts a ridonkulous 700 desks and all the proper startup accountrement: scooters, pool tables, and video games.
Co-working, as the Journal is here to tell you, isn’t just for Valley types anymore. “Besides the cost advantages, entrepreneurs in technology and other fields say they like co-working spaces because their open floor plans boost collaboration, offer more flexibility on leases and can even help land investors.” You don’t say!
But despite this rising tech tide springing up shared workspaces around the country, the article only name checks two locations outside California and only one from New York’s growing pool: General Assembly, natch.
First Hand Advice
This is a guest post from SeatGeek co-founder Russell D’Souza.
Prior to moving offices in early June, SeatGeek worked first out of Soho Haven (now Projective Space) and then at General Assembly, two shared office spaces in New York. In the early days of SeatGeek, shared office space was a complete no-brainer, but what was much less clear was when to “graduate” to our own office space. Since many startups have been asking us about this of late, I thought we’d break down some of the criteria we evaluated when making this decision.
Start-up Slumber Parties
#StartupLife co-founders Steven Liu and Louie Torrellas have already collected $1,040 (and counting!) towards their $10,000 campaign to create an affordable co-living space for start-ups in East Williamsburg. They’re certainly in the right neighborhood for such a collegiate project. McKibbin Lofts, just two blocks away, is so popular with artsy post-grads that it’s often referred to as a dorm. Okay fine, maybe it’s more like that “filthy hipster dorm,” but still.
Perhaps it was that underground ethos that prompted the two co-founders to eschew Kickstarter for their fund-raising campaign and instead opt to advertise on the more DIY-focused San Francisco-based IndieGoGo.
Although you can’t throw a Nexus S1 in parts of the city without hitting a coworking spaces, that still leaves future Dennis Crowleys and Kevin Ryans to fend for themselves after hours. Liu’s plan for a start-up alternative involves “lower-than-market rent, a close-knit start-up community, and a strong network of experienced mentors”–accessible from bunkbeds, private bedrooms, or suites in 20 separate apartment units. Bunkbeds go for under $300/month, but come with access to the courtyard and rooftop. “All you need is a suitcase and a dream.” (Oh, and at least $550/month if you don’t want to become too familiar with your co-founder’s sleepwear.)
Dogpatch Labs has interest from 250 to 275 companies for about eight to 10 desks, liaison Matt Meeker told Betabeat, after a steady increase gave way to a rush. “It’s been building over the past couple months, but the past couple weeks have really accelerated a lot (sorry for the pun),” he said. “I wish I had twice as many desks.”
Coworking is a growing trend among New York’s freelancers, especially for the tech set. Instead of plugging away in their pajamas or snagging a spot at the wi-fi cafe, coworker prefer a more organized, office atmosphere.
But how much does it really save, or cost, to rent a desk in this kind of co-working space? Read More