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VOL. 129 | NO. 22 | Monday, February 03, 2014

Cowork Memphis Opens Workspace Venture

By Andy Meek

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Freelancers and other busy professionals who work remotely, outside of a traditional office setting, probably know the feeling.

Their coffee shop is loud and sometimes a difficult place to work. Perhaps a phone call comes in that they need to step outside to take – while being stuck leaving papers spread out and a computer on the table inside. And working from home, of course, brings its own distractions.

Because of the lack of constancy, finding a workspace can sometimes be a kind of hit-or-miss proposition, which is why a new venture called Cowork Memphis has opened its doors in Cooper-Young.

The business, at 902 S. Cooper St., launched a few weeks ago and offers a collaborative workspace environment catering to people like freelancers, small businesses and entrepreneurs. Cowork Memphis provides them a workspace, as well as a way to connect with like-minded professionals and grow their business network.

MAXWELL

Cowork Memphis director of community development Katie Maxwell said the venture sells memberships, which start at $100 per month and go up a few more tier levels from there. Depending on the membership, a professional can get access to Wi-Fi, educational classes and events, workspace, shared office equipment – and “all the coffee and bottled water you can drink.”

The coworking space also has classrooms, event presentation rooms and conference rooms available for rent by the day or the hour for local businesses.

“It works kind of like a gym membership,” Maxwell said. “You come in at what level best meets your needs, and you have a place to work.

“The basic membership, the $100 deal, is for regular business hours Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s kind of like a Starbucks on steroids. You come in and sit down wherever there’s an open spot to work. There’s a couch, coffee table, desk, chairs – you plug in where you’re most comfortable.”

Other amenities available to participants include access to a network printer, where users pay for what they print. The higher pricing tiers include things like access to conference rooms, passes for guests and more.

Cowork Memphis corporate partners include Bikes Plus, Konica Minolta Business Solutions, Ashley Furniture HomeStore and Stash.

Beyond offering workspace, Cowork Memphis will provide educational programming via partnerships with entities like Startup Grind and House of Genius.

“There’s a whole other section to what we’re offering, too – an educational side,” Maxwell said. “We’ll bring in programming for the entrepreneurial community. We’ll be hosting Startup Grind events here monthly, for example.”

Startup Grind is a global startup community powered by Google for Entrepreneurs. Through that partnership, Cowork Memphis will bring in local entrepreneurs to essentially tell their stories.

First up was Muddy’s Bake Shop founder Kat Gordon, who talked about starting her business and the development of its second location in Cooper-Young.

She talked about the difficulty in starting any new business – “I knew enough to know I knew absolutely nothing” – and, in response to a question about competition, explained that Muddy’s tries to focus on making sure it’s the best bakery it can be, regardless of competitors.

In explaining why she wanted to appear at the event, Gordon said that “without the support of the Memphis community and the generosity of the many Memphis business owners who shared their knowledge with me, Muddy’s never would have succeeded like this.”

The next entrepreneur speaking at Cowork Memphis will be Michael Nunn, president of S2N design.

“We’re looking for entrepreneurs who have a story to tell and can speak to an audience that’s trying to do the same thing and start from scratch, getting their own business up and going,” Maxwell said.

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