Coworking community offers office spaceWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
The co-founders of the Seed Coworking Community believe that society is changing from a W-2 community to a 1099 population — and their new endeavor reflects that.
Seed plans to give independent contractors, out-of-town workers and those who work from home a community-style office space. There were 10.3 million independent contractors in the U.S. in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Seed co-founders Don Miller, W. Gene Powell and Jamie Wright had observed co-working spaces in larger cities like San Francisco and New York before deciding to bring the concept home to the Glass City.
“It’s not just a desk and a chair to rent. This is more collaborative and about knowing people,” Wright said, adding that clients can draw on each other for knowledge and support in the open-space office setting.
“We rely on each other. We depend on each other to get things done,” Miller echoed. The group plans to have at least one co-founder on-site to greet clients at most times in addition to planning community events like movie nights.
All three co-founders are small business owners who work in Web development or design. “We met online, but not a dating site,” Powell joked. He said that the first official co-working space started in 2005 in San Francisco. Now there are about 700 co-working spaces worldwide.
Seed’s name references the area’s farming roots, Powell said. “Seed pays homage to the egalitarian roots in Northwest Ohio. We’re embracing our history,” he said.
The trio looked for a Downtown Toledo space for about two years before settling on its 2,100-square-foot facility on St. Clair Street. Originally a wheelbarrow factory built in 1887, the space will soon hold a kitchen, lounge, conference room, desks for working, lockers and high-speed Wi-Fi. There will also be a room where clients can make private phone calls.
Being in Downtown was important to the group, Powell said, adding that the St. Clair St. Village is an up-and-coming place for businesses.
To fund what Powell called the “byproduct of a bigger economy,” the co-founders started a Kickstarter account to furnish the new business. Kickstarter is an online fundraising tool where users must get backers to pledge a set amount of money for them to receive any at all. In Seed’s case, 100 backers pledged $15,334, exceeding the goal of $12,000.
“Toledo and even people as farflung as Seattle were very supportive,” Wright said. “The key with co-working is building the community before building the space.”
Kyle Golembiewski plans to be one of Seed’s first tenants. As a Web marketer, he is exactly the type of client Seed hopes for.
“The idea is very innovative, especially for this area,” Golembiewski said of the project.
Seed offers three levels of membership. For a $25 monthly membership, users get one day a month at the space with a roaming desk. For $85 a month, clients get two days a week with a roaming desk and for $175 a month, customers receive 24/7 access, a locker and a permanent desk. Day passes are $10 for members and $20 for nonmembers. Seed has some parking currently and is working on getting more spaces for users.
Seed Coworking Community is slated to open in May at 25 S. St. Clair St. For more information, visit http://seedcoworking.com/ or call (419) 407-6199.