The business of coworking spaces is booming. We know that much. New companies popping up, established businesses opening new facilities, etc. It’s pretty fascinating to see how rapidly the concept has grown in recent years.
These spaces house entrepreneurs and startups who define creativity and innovation, so shouldn’t the spaces themselves follow suit?
Workbar is doing just that. Looking to lead community efforts by helping startups succeed, they have started a new initiative dubbed, Workbar Centers of Excellence.
Workbar, who has two main locations (Atlantic Ave in Boston and Central Square in Cambridge) and additional “OuterSpaces,” has expanded their business by creating partnerships with industry-specific leaders to offer up space inside their offices.
The concept was born out of conversations with DCU who was looking to build their presence in Boston and help financial services startups, or FinTech companies.
The DCU Center of Excellence in Financial Services, which soft-launched in January of this year, serves as a knowledge center and collaborative workspace for financial startups by offering month-to-month workspace, industry- specific mentorship, access to senior-level executives at DCU, programming, resources, and networking to its members.
The DCU Center of Excellence currently houses four startups:
Blueleaf: "Salesforce.com for wealth management infrastructure."
Elsen: algorithmic trading platform provides active investors with the tools required to streamline and manage equity trading portfolios.
Stock Rover: a web application that brings professional-level equity research capabilities to the individual investor.
Socrex: an online apartment scouting and relocation service.
More recently, Workbar partnered with leading Ad Agency, Mullen to create Wunderbar, which as stated on Mullen’s site is “the first co-working space in Boston tailored for emerging ad-tech startups. During six-month rotations, these companies will work alongside some of our best and brightest as they build out, refine and grow their technology.”
Wunderbar has three ad-tech companies in house:
ViralGains: offers a viral marketing platform that delivers video ads across thousands of web and mobile publishers.
Reactor Media: a managed content distribution platform that helps marketers promote and measure content across all distribution channels in one place.
Workbar’s Director of Community Development, Alexa Lightner, stressed to me the importance and emphasis they put on community. With their Centers of Excellence Workbar is growing the community by connecting today’s leaders with tomorrow’s trailblazers.
The benefits for all parties are clear. Workbar is essentially offering up a blueprint and consulting services, taking away the stress for companies to operate the space. Host companies get a pulse of what’s going on in tech innovation and exposure to new tools. Startups receive a vast array of benefits not the least of which is connections and mentorship.
The structure, Lightner tells me is very loose. While there are some guidelines in terms of length of stay, it’s not a hard-lined lease and structured mentorship isn’t laid out. The startups are given a liaison (they’re called “Wunderbuddies” inside Wunderbar) of sorts, but true mentorship happens organically through relationship building.
Workbar sees this model as another way to help companies in all stages of their growth. An individual entrepreneur may start inside Workbar, then grow and move into a Center of Excellence and eventually, once in an office of it’s own, that company can then, in turn, become a host for “OuterSpaces” and/or a Center of Excellence.
Above all, Workbar is spreading the unifying element of community and growing the ecosystem.
Hopefully, we start to see more of this, as closing the gap between big business and startups can only be beneficial to all. So, if you’re a leader in your industry, are intrigued with this concept and up for shaking things up Workbar is all ears and encourages you to reach out.
Josh Boyle is Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz. You can follow him on Twitter @jb_sid and keep up with his latest posts by signing up for the VentureFizz Weekly Email!