This Coworking Space Aims to be WeWork’s Opposite
Mod offers business-class services without the cultural trappings of coworking.
Mod, a coworking space with locations in Phoenix and San Francisco, is chasing a very diffent ideal than the one established by WeWork. In an interview, cofounders Randy and Brian Stowell explain that they’re catering to professionals with “design-forward furniture, daily guided meditation, curated healthful nibbles, and on-site concierge services”. The space was founded in their home town of Phoenix, but it recently expanded to SF, and a Seattle location is in the works.
In contrast with the pseudo-bohemian vibe of inexpensive live-work spaces and the quirky, outgoing attitude of startup-targeted offices like WeWork, Mod aims to be simple, clean, and professional. Customer service is of the utmost importance. “If someone didn’t offer you something right when you walked in the door,” Randy said, “we have to fire that person”.
There’s a sizable market for coworking spaces outside of the traditional startup demographic, as we explored in our post on coworking spaces in the suburbs. Even in urban environments, there are professionals who are eager to adopt the coworking model but who can’t find a space with the right amenities and culture.
In Mod’s case, having the right amenities means hotel-like conveniences and treats rather than community-building social events and on-site games. This makes the space sound cold, but the reality is that older professionals already have a community where they belong, whether that’s with coworkers, clients, or old friends. In the absence of a need to make new friends, the main use of a coworking space is to get work done.
From that perspective, it’s clear that there aren’t many coworking spaces that offer convenience-driven benefits to professional members. Business centers give you the benefit of a front desk and a mailbox, but coworking spaces like Mod aim to go one step further by providing concierge services and curated food. It’s essentially a business class experience for consultants, freelancers, and remote workers who don’t have the luxury of operating out of their wealthy clients’ offices.
Randy and Brian are 48 and 53 years old respectively, so they’re equipped to understand the desires of the older professional. The culture espoused by WeWork might seem to be open and inclusive, but by definition, a subculture can’t exist without alienating another subculture. Randy argues that the WeWork crowd is “young and tech-heavy,” and that older, non-technical workers wouldn’t feel much of a fit.
The current coworking trend took off by making entrepreneurs and new grads feel like they belong; for the trend to expand, new spaces will have to grant that same feeling to different demographics. Mod might be alienating the crowd that’s traditionally associated with coworking, but in doing so, they’re opening their doors to an underserved market.