World of Coworking - Austin, Texas
If you get around a lot on your job it is good to know some coworking spaces at your destination. A coworking space is a great place to get some work done and meet locals. We at upstream travel a lot to conferences for example to keep our programming skills sharp, so that we can continue to ship great software like our coworking web application Cobot. So as avid coworkers and in order to learn more about the needs of our potential Cobot customers we seek out coworking spaces at our travel destinations. In this post I would like to share my discoveries in the coworking world of Austin, Texas. I had the opportunity to stay there for a few weeks while attending the Lone Star Ruby Conference.
Lets start with Conjunctured. Conjuctured, Austins first coworking space is located east of the city center on 1309 E. 7th Street. You can either take a bus there from downtown (4 - Montopolis) or take a 20 min walk, like I did. If you get there, don’t be surprised to find an entire house, yes an entire house including porch and front yard for great open air parties. Inside you’ll find a matching homely style. Two large rooms are the main work area with the basic setup every coworker needs: good chairs, tables and power outlets. There is also a quite-room in the back of the house, a small conference room and a room with some comfy couches as well. An open kitchen in the center of the house makes the space complete.
Conjuctured has built a strong community that roots in their position as coworking pioneers, good outdoor parties and the fact that they only offer full time memberships or drop ins. I found it interesting to hear from David Walker, one of the cofounders, that the full time membership concept worked very well right from the beginning, it even paid the first rents for the house upfront. Their membership structure has the advantage that members are more connected to the coworking space than part time members or drop-ins. As most coworkers know each other through the space, they sometimes do a project together. Conjuctured calls these ad-hoc cooperations Co-Company, I call it one of many other benefits when doing coworking. The house was well visited while I was there, but the people were spread well across the rooms. According to David they have the fastest internet available, I just can say it worked fast and reliably for me. As an international visitor you are welcome to drop in for free for a couple of days, something that I highly recommend.
If you are looking for something closer to downtown or need your own office for a limited time you should check out CoworkAustin. It is right in the city center in a historic office building on 200E 6th Street, just a stone’s throw away from the Austin Convention Center. The lift will bring you to the 3rd floor where CoworkAustin is located among other offices. The reception desk, the modern design and contemporary art on the walls give this place a very professional flair. There is a common area with a comfy couch and a longish table with chairs to work next to it. From the common area you can get into small offices that you can rent exclusively. The space has a big conference room which can also be rented exclusively per hour. And lets not forget the nice terrace overlooking the east of downtown, which makes this space also a viable party location. While I was working there, mostly from the couch, it was rather empty, things that change if big events are in town according to Blake Freeburg, the founder. The Internet via Wifi worked fine beside some timeout problems on oversea sites, which disappeared at the next day.
CoworkAustin has a strong focus on renting their facilities for events, entire teams and professionals that need a separate space for a very limited time, e.g. during events like SXSW. Blake told me he plans to expand the space for next year to offer a bigger shared coworking area and also more office spaces. Give it a try while in Austin, especially if you have equipment that you don’t want to carry around all day.
My last stop was CoSpace, a rather young coworking space in the very North of Austin. It is located in a business park next to a shopping center in . You can get there by bus very easily as there is a Park and Ride hub nearby. If you step through the door you will be right in the big community working area. Long tables with chairs and power plugs invite you to start work right away. If you are on the right plan you can use or rent some of the small offices at the end of the room. One of these small offices contains the mandatory meeting room. A part of the community area is separated by glass walls, this part hosts a full fledged kitchen and some couches for a relaxed chat over dinner or a coffee break. The space was used by a lot of different people while I stayed there and also hosts a startup team. The network infrastructure is good, you can choose from a range of dedicated Wifi Networks for optimal throughput, and the internet connection worked flawlessly during my stay.
On my initial day at CoSpace I attended their first coworking meetup where coworkers introduced each other and Kirtus Dixon, a co-founder, shortly talked about the intention of the space. These meetings (and parties as well) that focus on the people that use your space are very important to build up a community. Otherwise people run the risk to just work next to each other without getting to know each other. This not only lowers the chance to get new long term members in, it might also alienate people when they don’t get a chance to connect to the space and its members. If you happen to be in the north of Austin or want to meet a lot of different people this place is right for you.
These are the three coworking space I visited during my stay in Austin. I heard at least of one more which is more of an incubator style coworking space called TechLab. But judging from cafes filled with people working on their laptops there is still room for more coworking spaces in Austin.
So if you like to run your own coworking space around Austin or anywhere else in the world be sure to check out Cobot. Cobot helps you to set up plans, manage your members, keeps track of payments and solves many other tasks, thus makes running a coworking space a lot easier.