Shared space offers climate of inspiration

Many franchisees at Patrice & Associates are moving our of their homes into an office space. It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be a fancy storefront. Just interacting with professionals and sharing ideas – getting out of the house – plays a big part in the growth of an entrepreneur.  Some Chambers of Commerce offer office space from $50 – $75 a month.

By AARON NATHANS
The News Journal of Wilmington, Del. WILMINGTON, Del. (AP)

It’s a place to take a seat and get things done, to bounce ideas off one another, and occasionally laugh together and get the brain ready for inspiration.

This is the coIN loft, at 300 W. 9th St. in Wilmington, a “co-working” shared workspace for entrepreneurs at the very beginning of their business process. For $50, a member can visit five times in a month. If they want unlimited visits and the use of a desk, with WiFi. it’s $200 – far less than renting office space. For that price, they also get the use of a conference room, the confines of a groovy old downtown Wilmington row building, and the buzz of youthful energy around them. “Pay when you need it, don’t when you don’t,” said co-founder Wes Garnett The second- and third floor facility was buzzing on a recent afternoon, as some members sat at their borrowed desks, headphones plugged in as they created videos and Web pages for clients. Others watched the television/computer screen at the center of the room, watching a YouTube video of a guitar player picking superfast. “We skate the line between professional office and coffee shop, clubhouse,” Garnett said.

“We’re entrepreneurs that realize working with other entrepreneurs is better than working by yourself.” A worker can be right at home working from home, but “every once in a while, the walls begin to close in a little bit,” Garnett said. Garnett and Steve Roettger met in 2008 at a fi.nancial planning firm, where they both worked. They left and founded a marketing firm named Verge, which continues, now based at the coin Loft. Around that time, Roettger was reading Entrepreneur magazine when he saw an article on co-working. They founded the coin Loft in 2009. Wilmington did not yet have such a facility, and it was tough to get it off the ground, its founders said, especially in a state where many college students leave after graduation, and because no one nearby had heard of the concept. ‘It was tough finding people,” Roettger said. But folks liked the concept after they got used to it, Garnett said. Today, there are 26 people who pay, periodically; 11 come on a daily basis. There’s a conference room that members can reserve, complete with a sign reading, “Please feel free to use the glass.” There’s plenty of writing on the glass. Since the coIN Loft opened, Garnett and Roettger launched other products in collaboration with other members of the coin Loft and the University of Delaware, including uSeed, a platform that allows students to raise money for business startup projects from people they know.

After businesses get their sea legs at places like the coIN Loft, they can move on to an incubator like the Emerging Enterprise Center at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. Once businesses have a plan, can afford six months of rental space and are starting to bring in revenue, they’re welcome to seek membership, said its program manager, Michael Tentnowski

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