“What’s a coworking?”: Thoughts from a panelist at StepNW’s Spotlight on Startups for the Eastside
“…Is this thing on?”
At StepNW’s event in Bellevue on Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to sit on a panel in the company of fellow coworking representatives from Orange Studios, extraSlice, and Impact Hub. Picture a room full of entrepreneurs, executives looking to find their perfect startup match, community representatives, creatives, and resident experts on Seattle’s startup culture. The space was loud, the mics were soft, and the handshakes were good and firm. The venue was buzzing with disorganized, high energy, caffeinated humans…much like a startup!
“Is it really all it’s cracked up to be?”
One question posed to the panel challenged the value of being plugged into coworking space. Specifically:
“Why should an entrepreneur consider coworking space?”
To answer this question, I referred back to a study executed by the Kauffman Foundation that quantified the two most important resources entrepreneurs need to be successful. This study showed that the most impactful catalysts to success in a startup can be boiled down to building relationships with other entrepreneurs, and building relationships with support organizations, such as Angel investors, mentors, and service providers. Opportunity for building these connections naturally multiplies by physically plugging into a coworking community. Moreover, by being involved in a coworking space, there is an instant connection to people (like me!) whose mission is directly dictated by these two key needs. In building the fabric of support around entrepreneurs, I seek to connect people with the resources that will help them to solve their biggest pain points.
“Where does it hurt?”
The previous topic begs the question:
“What are the biggest pain points of an entrepreneur?”
Dan Kihanya from Impact Hub says that the three most common concerns he sees are difficulties finding talent, connections, and funding. With coworking spaces popping up all over the Seattle area, I expect to see these anxieties alleviated.
In response to the first pain point: Hiring talent. Who wants to be stuck with a social loafing coworker who has a bad habit of stealing your yogurt out of the fridge? Not I! That’s why companies like thinkspace offer recruiting services—to weed out the yogurt-eating, money-embezzling, resume-exaggerating applicants and provide companies with the (actual) top talent Seattle has to offer.
Moving on to pain point number two: Connections. There are only so many times you can view someone’s LinkedIn profile before things get awkward. This is why thinkspace, Impact Hub, and Orange Studios are all involved in organizing networking events that provide ample opportunities to meet other entrepreneurs face-to-face and make meaningful connections with experts in a variety of fields.
As for pain point number 3: Funding. As much as money trouble is a fun party topic, it isn’t always as easy to solve this problem as game of tic-tac-toe against your six-year-old nephew. History has shown that participation in coworking space leads to an increased probability of meeting co-founders, angel investors, and partner companies. This translates to: Cha-CHING!*
“I’m only here for the food…”
As our panel came to a close, the locals appeared restless… and hungry! Reminding me that in the world of entrepreneurs, there’s no time to buy groceries. Offering opportunities to be social, studious, and inquisitive, StepNW did the community a great service by providing education and networking opportunities to the greater Eastside community. Cheers to another night of connections, ravaged buffet tables, and illegible nametags!
*Cha-CHING: Increased opportunity for growth and revenue