The story behind the first coworking space and how it became a trend
Have you ever thought of how or when the first coworking space was invented?
Or did you ever wonder if it’s really useful and deserves all the fuss?
Well, I’m here to give you the answers you want.
And not only that, but to show you that “a coworking space” could be the key to your success.
- What is a coworking space?
- The story behind the first coworking space
- The benefits of coworking spaces
- Is coworking space is a good choice for a startup?
- The conclusion
What is a coworking space?
Simply put, a coworking space is a different, not your typical type of office.
It’s a place that you can go there to work, study or even think an important issue through.
A place where all of its visitors are unique, free and ambitious spirits.
It’s a haven for anyone seeking a healthy work environment.
Mainly freelancers and entrepreneurs are the ones who are benefiting the most from coworking spaces.
This shared office space makes the room for you to give your best.
It’s the place for unleashed creativity.
A lot of people can’t find the energy or passion if they’re going to work from home.
There are also some obstacles for sure, for example, they’ll need professional settings if they’re meeting with clients.
On the other hand, they also can’t bring out their best when working in a typical office with fixed hours and old fashioned atmosphere.
That’s why coworking spaces are obviously the most suitable solution for them.
The story behind the first coworking space
The term “coworking” was first used in 1999 by “Bernie DeKoven” describing collaborative work supported by computer and new technologies of the day.
And the same term was used later in addition to the word “space” to become “coworking space” in the way we all know today.
Image resources: coworkingresources.org
In 2005 “Brad Neuberg” introduced the first “official” coworking space in San Francisco, CA.
At the time Brad was working in a start-up named “Rojo” after working for himself doing consulting and traveling.
However, he was not happy.
He dreamed to have the freedom and independence of working for himself along with the structure and community of working with others.
However, he didn’t know what to do or where to start.
Then he began working with a Life Coach named “Audrey Seymour” to help him figure out what he wants to do with his life.
And finally, “Brad Neuberg” came up with the idea of the first Coworking Space.
On his personal blog, brad tells us how it all started.
“I had several friends involved in “the Spiral Muse space”, which was a feminist collective in the Mission district in San Francisco.
I was talking to “Elana Auerbach”, who was involved in Spiral Muse, while we were hanging out and mentioned my coworking idea and that I needed affordable space.
Elana said that I could have “the Spiral Muse space” two days a week for $300 a month, with any extra money that I might make from participants above and beyond $300.
The one thing though was that I would have to set up the space each of those days and then break everything down as I couldn’t leave any permanent additions.”
The real work
The space didn’t kick off right away, things worked out very slowly as any starting business.
Brad thought that just by putting a couple of ads people would just fill the place.
The place was open only on Mondays and Tuesdays.
So during these two days, Brad would go unfold the tables, set up the place and wait for anybody to come.
But for the first two months, no one has shown up.
Then he started realizing he needed to take different procedures to reach his audience.
He started handing out flyers and talking to people himself and finally, people started coming into the place.
The first official coworker who came to the coworking space was Ray Baxter, an athlete, startup developer, and father.
Still, most people came just to take a look at the place, just to see what is this exactly.
But Brad didn’t care about that, he even told people, “steal this idea, remix it and make it your own”.
The only thing that mattered to him is for the idea to fly around because he believed it’s worth spreading.
That second try
Unfortunately, after about a year “the Spiral Muse” coworking space was closed.
Several months later Brad opened “the Hat Factory”, along with about ten other volunteers including “Chris Messina” and “Tara Hunt” who gave him a great helping hand with the first one.
The new place was a larger one that could hold and serve more people.
“The Hat Factory” was a breakthrough, the world’s first full-time coworking space.
And by 2010 It was no longer in operation. but still, it was the reason for the coworking space evolution that’s happening in our time.
A few great attempts
Of course, for any entrepreneur, you have to have some failed attempts at first before you have a successful one.
About two-year earlier, after having some proto ideas Brad came so close to the idea of coworking space.
He started a group called a “Nine to Five Group”.
This was a group that would meet at coffee shops and casually works together, but unfortunately, after about a month it failed.
While “Brad Neuberg” was the one who made the first “official” coworking space, he wasn’t the first one who tried to do something like this or even thought of such an idea.
According to Conor Todd “In 2002 two Austrian entrepreneurs set up an entrepreneurial center, “Schraubenfabrik”, in an old factory in Vienna.
The space is aimed at entrepreneurs, giving them a place to avoid having to work from home, where they can collaborate and work with like-minded people.
The space included architects, PR consultants, startups and freelancers. This space is clearly the mother of coworking and although not called a “coworking space”, it’s undoubtedly a clear precursor to what we know today. “
This was not the only attempt for a coworking space, Brad also tells us in his blog:
“In 2003 while doing “the Hat Factory’ space, as a group we all discovered that there had been an earlier effort by “Neil Goldberg” to provide high-end collaborative spaces for .com workers who were telecommuting in Silicon Valley called “the Gate-3 Work Club”.
This was a strictly commercial effort that unfortunately didn’t work out with the .com crash, but it was an interesting historical footnote to discover after we had started coworking.”
As you can see there were really great attempts before Brad but maybe he just had a little more luck I guess.
The first coworking spaces in Egypt
The idea arrived in Egypt by 2007, specifically in Heliopolis, Cairo
The German entrepreneur “Ulrike von Ruecker” launched “Rasheed 22” as a nonprofit initiative.
She wanted to present a place to work, as well as promote sharing and collaboration.
The place lasted only a few years and stopped.
Then “The District” came out and it was considered the first official coworking space in Egypt.
It was founded in Cairo In 2011 by “Mazen Helmi”, his brother, and their co-founder “Arthur Steiner”.
Mazen was a volunteer in “Rasheed 22”, from where he got the idea of his place.
In a short time, “The District” became very successful and well known.
And due to “Mazen Helmi”’s distinguished work with the coworking space, “Forbes” selected him as one of the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa.
In 2014 “M3mal” co-working space was established as the first official coworking space in Alexandria.
I remember going there several times to a friend who had a startup there and every time I was impressed.
I’ve always thought that this is a great work environment, so non-traditional and fun.
And I hoped that one day i’ll work from a cozy place like this.
I remember the buzz “M3mal” made when first started, and it certainly deserved it.
The benefits of coworking spaces
As you can see, there is a huge buzz on coworking spaces and it’s becoming more famous every day.
So what made it so hot, what are the perks of working in a coworking space?
A costume-made environment
If you decide to work in a coworking space, then you are making your own little world to work in.
You can choose the space near you to go and work there so you won’t have to take a long time in transportations.
You can go to the one that has a nice view or the one that has bean bags lying around.
Flexibility will be your new friend.
You’ll choose your working days and hours.
You even can move around between coworking spaces if you just wanted a change.
And of course, you’ll have the free distraction environment you are looking for.
All of this along with the smell of coffee filling the air, and sometimes even food, you know a home-like atmosphere.
To have a coworking space as the location of your work saves you a lot of money.
It will provide you with the high internet speed you need, so you won’t have to pay a high internet bill at home.
You can choose the nearest coworking space and save the money spent on commuting.
If you are a freelancer or a start-up owner don’t even think of having your own private office now.
Go to a coworking space and save the money that would be spent on rent, facilities and other things the office would need.
Networking and marketing
A coworking space is a perfect place to get to know different creative minds, people who think a lot like you.
It’s the place where you meet a quite nice gathering of entrepreneurs and start-up owners.
So this is a great networking environment because you’ll get to learn a lot and benefit from other’s experiences.
You’ll be gaining new perspectives over numerous things.
Coworking spaces always consider their clients as success partners and mention them through social media and other places.
And this is great marketing for you and your work or business.
There is no other place to find the emotional support you need than in coworking spaces.
You could find some emotional support in a regular job system, however, it’s very rare.
In a coworking space, you rarely find a cruel competitive climate as you find in a lot of companies.
You can have expert’s advice on a lot of different fields.
You’ll find friends, not rivals.
Plus it’s extremely supportive to have people around you with the same goals and challenges in life.
Is coworking space is a good choice for a startup?
“There are an estimated 35,000 flexible workspaces in the world today and the global market value of flexible workspaces is estimated at an approximate $26 billion”.
These amazing statistics cast the light on the rise of coworking spaces.
In my own point of view to have a coworking space as your startup is very promising yet tricky.
It’s promising because as you can there are a lot of coworking spaces, this idea is catching on incredibly fast.
By “2012” coworking spaces became a global trend, there were over “2,000 spaces” worldwide.
And it’s still a big trend to this day.
But with this particular idea, you can’t depend only on it being a hit.
You have to give something very different that would draw people to your place.
And you have to give them really high quality in almost everything to distinguish yourself from your competitors.
Other than this it would just be another place added to the list.
“Those who mastered in the art of falling have no fear of rising”
This is a saying by “Mehmet Murat ildan” that I truly cherish.
It draws you a very clear picture of what life is all about.
You see, there is something common with all stories, there were a lot of failing attempts.
A coworking space is an important trend and a solid choice for a startup yes.
But the lessons here apply to all business, better yet all aspects of life.
And don’t forget to look at the history of things because the story behind it will reveal so much.
Moreover, as you can see, a small idea can turn into a loud blast.
So think outside the box, don’t mind the failed attempts and never stop dreaming.