4 QUESTIONS WITH MILLIE FROM THE VAULT SF!
Continuing our series of interviewing people of importance who work in Coworking spaces, today I spoke to Millie Beetham, the events and marketing coordinator of the Vault. The Vault is a year old coworking ecosystem located in the heart of San Francisco; which just happens to be one of the more unique places I’ve come upon, with an interesting story behind its founding and operation.
So Millie, could you give us a brief history of The Vault?
“Yes, of course. The Vault is a rather new coworking space, and I’ve been on the team since near the beginning. It was originally a side project of the founder, Kevin Smith, who found the current location while operating his own startup. The space was roughly 10,000 square feet, and he decided to operate it as both his startup’s headquarters, and a coworking space. However, originally this was not the intention, the Vault was at first a networking center for other individuals working in various tech industries. Around May/June that small group of workers who shared a location became a community; from there the Vault was born.”
Certainly, this was one of the more interesting ways a local Coworking space was founded, while many – if not most – are founded with community in mind, it’s not every day that you run into a space which was founded out of necessity and a pre-existing community. Going from here Millie told me more about the Vault, and some of its more unique facets.
“As our facility goes, we focus exclusively on tech startups that are early in their development. In a sense we’re an excellarator / incubator, while fitting neither category particularly well. Our process isn’t specifically formalized, but we regularly hold classes and programs to aid the development of individuals. These classes vary greatly in their range, from specialists to event speakers – we draw a large group through the Vault. Likewise, we ask (Not require however) that everyone who is a specialist in their field to make themselves available from time to time for individuals who are looking for help in that particular area. This isn’t all we do however, almost every night we host dinners, workshops, speakers, happy hours, hack-a-thons. Likewise, all the CEOs and founders provide their services to the rest of the individuals in the facility as an aid tool. They open themselves up as a mentor and an advisor, even with in-office hours.”
How were you first introduced to coworking, and what are your thoughts on the movement as a whole?
“So my backround is a little different from others here, I’ve almost excusively worked in early-stage startups. I’ve always worked from home, worked as a freelancer, and worked constantly with a team and in collaboration with other groups. That became a norm in my life, and I’ve been with the Vault since its induction. It’s been fantastic, we’ve had every company that’s come through here succeed in some way or another, many have graduated, and a minority at the least reform. I really buy into the idea that these new groups of people lending services back and forth are happy to do so and it helps breed success with the community. You put them all under one roof and give them tools to succeed with infrastructure and computing etc, more often than not they’ll explode perfectly into the scene.”
“To answer the question however, I really think as a whole that people forget how fresh it [Coworking] is. People don’t realize the movement is almost entirely under 10 years old. Moving forward in our community there’s a need for niche, specialized coworking spaces. While you can meet people, it’s important to have people that share ideals and positions; they need to be able to offer something to one another. This growing community between like-minded individuals helps expand the space significantly; this is why a need for focused coworking spaces are so important.
What sets your coworking space apart from the pack, and what are some unique aspects to working at The Vault?
“It sounds cliche, but frankly we’ve been lucky with our demographics that have come through the doors. But it’s more than that, it’s the personality of the individuals who come in and click with the space. We’ve got a very rigorous application process, but even with that we’ve been lucky enough to find insanely passionate individuals who work here. They all go home thinking about making it big, being successful. This passion and community has created an environment within The Vault that is unique to the location. Everyone feeds off their constant intensity, outgoingness and passion/drive between the individuals. Every single team here is like that. It’s like bees buzzing around all day, people are always working, talking, acting and filling up the space. That is really different, that passion and drive is so palpable here that you can feel it in the air.”
The Vault has grown significantly since its founding, what do you think are the most important factors for developing a successful coworking space?
The Vault team is 4 full-time individuals, with 150 members. Part of what is needed to make it so successful is that our team was a small early stage tech startup at a point, we operate like the startups we service; we don’t feel separate, we’re all in a similar boat. It’s enabled us to key into their minds and understand them in a way. Apart from that, you need to foster and develop a community; people can work anywhere – to get them coming back you need to create somewhere they want to work.”
The Vault SF is about to reach its one year anniversary, and we expect to see big things from them in the future. Thanks to Millie and the whole Vault team for their time!