4 Questions with Stephanie from Connect Coworking!
Hello everyone! We’re excited to launch our new series titled: Feature Spaces, in which we will showcase a unique Coworking Space. Our hope is to provide some insight on how individual spaces are run and operated.
For our first piece, we spoke with Stephanie Bermudez, the Community Director of Connect Coworking, in Tucson Arizona. Why Connect Coworking? A large portion of my job is the continuous hunt for Coworking Spaces in the States. When I found Connect Coworking and saw their location, my first thought was “that place looks fantastic!”. Contacting them was a no brainer, I emailed Stephanie Bermudez, and before long we were speaking.
So Stephanie, tell us a little about Connect Coworking
“Connect Coworking was a project that was well thought through. It started about 2 years ago, when I was contacted by the Rialto block developer, Scott Stiteler with the idea to start a Coworking Space. We decided we should first work on a “smaller prototype”, called “Connect Beta” in order to really get to know the market and test our plan on early adopters. The place was much smaller –only 16 desks available, but good enough for us to come up with a project. We also worked closely with Co+Hoots founder, Jenny Poon, who helped us build a starting coworking concept.”
Connect Coworking has come a long way since then. June 1st, 2014 marked the official opening day of the 1st phase of Connect Coworking. It is now located in the historic Rialto building which is 14 000 sq ft and has 200 desks available. Quite the upgrade! The 2d phase opened on july 8th, and the 3rd on November 17th with their Work Lab open since September 1st. So far, the place has been very successful, with 80% of their offices occupied, and the Work Lab being 2 times sold out.
How were you first introduced to coworking, and what are your thoughts on the movement as a whole?
“Coworking is a very exciting ride. It’s nice being a part of a global movement. We had the opportunity to visit many Coworking Spaces and test the models; it’s great discovering hidden treasures within a community. So far, coworking is beyond what we expected while in Beta mode, it’s very rewarding”.
What do you think are the most important factors for developing a successful coworking space?
Given that Connect Coworking has been such a successful space, we thought it would be interesting to see the main factor that led to the development of an excellent Coworking Space. As it turns out according to Stephanie, “There isn’t one thing in particular. A healthy balance of everything is necessary: good leadership, a sense of community, making connections, a specific culture etc… A lot of Coworking Spaces close because they only focus on 1 thing”. Indeed, as recent studies have shown, many coworking spaces don’t make it past their first two years. If you are planning on creating a Coworking Space, keep that in mind folks!
What sets your coworking space apart from the pack, and what are some unique aspects to working at Connect Coworking?
So, what sets Connect Coworking apart from the rest? The answer came as no surprise: the “wow factor” and design of the space. When first entering Connect Coworking people often say, “Wow, that is not what we expected, the pictures don’t do it justice”. I for one was already impressed just by seeing the pictures, so it must be phenomenal in person. As I’ve seen, while the place is big, they’ve managed to keep the cozy feeling. It’s a perfect mix of modern and retro styles (there is a wall of vintage typewriters!) and they have preserved the historic charm of the Rialto building. However design is not the only thing that convinces coworkers to call Connect Coworking their office; it’s also the connections they make, the support from the staff they get, the diverse community they find themselves in (indeed, a very wide variety of businesses work there: from clean energy, landscape, attorneys, logistics, hotel management, finance, to investment advisers), and last but not least: the authentic Tucson culture that is preserved. They’ve really studied the ins and outs of Coworking Spaces before opening – and the results show just that.
Connect Coworking has just been open for 6 months, but it seems clear they have a very bright future in front of them, and we wish them well for whatever the future brings. If you are interested in renting a desk there, a few are left so act quick! Find out more here
Photo credits: Paul Holze, Groundwork Promotions