Why a Coworking Space’s Biggest Asset Might Not Be Property

How coworking has created so much more than the property it owns

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Sharing your workspace with other companies might sound like a money-saving compromise, but in some ways, that compromise is in itself the biggest advantage that coworking spaces have to offer.

RocketSpace is one workspace provider that believes in this philosophy. The company distinguishes itself from competitors by counterintuitively offering something that you might think would decrease demand: a screening process. Prospective tenants must apply to get in, and even then, they’ll have to deal with RocketSpace’s above-average rent. Despite this, there’s always a waiting list for their properties.

RocketSpace’s founder said in an interview with Xconomy that “the best startups in the valley have all the money they need,”  and that “[RocketSpace had] never had a startup struggling to pay the rent.” For the most successful startups, a little extra rent and a more time-consuming application process are a small price to pay for the atmosphere they’ll be surrounded with once they get in.

What concrete benefits could a service like this offer to ambitious entrepreneurs? Let’s take a look.

1) Industry Awareness

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As a shrewd businessperson would notice, an opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded peers doubles as an opportunity to see what the competition is doing. It isn’t just a matter of spying, of course—understanding what other players in your field are doing is valuable on multiple levels, whether or not they’re direct competitors. The more selective the coworking space, the more likely you are to run into companies whose interests overlap with yours, creating more opportunities to learn by talking to each other or simply observing one another.

This applies not only to other companies in your field, but also to fellow startups with a similar organizational structure to yours. Getting to interact so closely with a plethora of different companies is a privilege: companies can use it to tweak their own structure, incentive systems, and internal tools (communication software, etc.). Seeing how other startups operate can help on a managerial level, not just on a product level.

2) Corporate Connections

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Consulting with and building products for a large company might not be every startup’s main goal, but it can be a great way to earn revenue and deepen your team’s skills while simultaneously increasing your presence in the market. If the coworking space provider has connections to major corporations, being a part of their network would offer benefits akin to an alumni network.

For example, part of RocketSpace’s business model involves using their knowledge of the startup scene to consult with large companies and help them keep up with the competition. In one instance, they helped a Japanese ISP called Nifty partner with New York-based health startup Noom to create an online diet-coaching app. It’s unlikely that Noom would have sought out this opportunity on their own, but working at RocketSpace allowed the opportunity to present itself.

3) Inspiration

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This one is a bit of a given, but it’s also one of the most important. It’s said that one of the best ways to improve your skills is to surround yourself by people that are more skilled than you, and that’s something that only a coworking space with a high entry barrier can offer.

This type of coworking space can bring the healthy competition of a tech conference into everyday life. If success depends even in part on the company you keep, it makes practical sense to surround yourself with good competition.