EDA APPROVES NEARLY $1 MILLION TO BOOST THREE CO-WORKING SPACES
TRENTON (January 14, 2015) – Supporting the Christie Administration’s commitment to strengthening the technology industry in the Garden State, Economic Development Authority (EDA) CEO Michele Brown announced that nearly $1 million was approved yesterday to expand the availability of space in Hoboken, Jersey City and Asbury Park. Three entities selected through a competitive Request for Proposal process can use the funds for acquisitions, improvements and/or fixed assets associated with expansion of co-working space.
“This funding will support the earliest stage New Jersey entrepreneurs and technology startups by partnering with three thriving co-working spaces in Hudson and Monmouth Counties,” Brown said.
Co-working spaces enable entrepreneurs from different companies to work side by side, sharing ideas. They are often located near easily accessible mass transit, reflecting renewed interest in urban living and working arrangements. For entrepreneurs and startup companies with limited access to immediate revenue, co-working spaces do not require members to sign long-term leases and also offer mentoring networks for their members.
Mission 50, in Hoboken was approved for a $556,550 loan. Currently operating from a 3,000 square-foot space, it expects to triple in size by expanding to a 13,000 square foot co-working facility near mass transit. Boasting laptop-ready desks with Internet connectivity, virtual mailing addresses, soundproof phone booths and much more, Mission 50 has a current membership roster of over 300, as well as a pipeline of 200 additional member companies. Tenants can choose between daily and monthly leasing options, as well as decide whether they want private or shared workspace. Mission 50 frequently collaborates with the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce, Stevens Institute of Technology and the NJ Tech Meetup on various initiatives.
Cowerks in Asbury Park was approved for a $240,000 loan. Cowerks currently has 140 members, with a large concentration of software developers. Founded in 2010, Cowerks has already outgrown its office space once and currently operates out of a 1,600 square foot space in Asbury Park. Cowerks plans to expand its existing location, and also occupy a nearby facility located near the city’s transit center. Cowerks regularly hosts tech-related events at the Jersey Shore, including meetups for Jersey Shore Tech and Jersey Shore Entrepreneurs. Education workshops run by Cowerks have focused on start-ups, software development, internet marketing, business development and legal/accounting advice for small businesses.
Indiegrove, located in the heart of downtown Jersey City, was approved for a $175,000 loan. The co-working space currently has 135 members, of which more than 50 percent are from the tech industry. Two years after opening its doors, Indiegrove plans to expand its current location in downtown Jersey City. Indiegrove partners with several entrepreneurship and economic development organizations, including Rising Tide Capital, Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation (GNEC), Freelancer's Union, The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and an array of successful entrepreneurs in order to provide education, mentorship and networking opportunities to its members and promote long term business sustainability.
The EDA spoke with the founders of Mission 50, Cowerks and Indiegrove to learn more about their respective programs and what the EDA investment means to their growth.
Questions for Mission 50 President and Co-Founder Gregory Dell’Aquila:
How do you plan to use the funding provided by the EDA?
We plan to use the funds for some combination of construction of space, furniture and fixtures and working capital.
To what do you attribute your large membership numbers?
I think it’s a combination of variables.
- Location, Location, Location. As the only co-working space in Hoboken, we have a captivate audience. We offer entrepreneurs or corporate employees with flexible schedules a place to put down their roots.
- Business Model. The way that we operate our business and the types of memberships we offer allow for great flexibility for potential members and their needs.
- Successful marketing strategy.
Is there an average length of time for membership before companies branch out on their own, with their own locations?
Small businesses, which use co-working spaces for their flexibility and for “laptop ready space,” usually stay at Mission 50 for approximately 12 months. These are the folks that are more in a growth mode. Once they’ve created their own ecosystem within their company, they usually move on from co-working spaces. On the other hand, solo entrepreneurs stay at Mission 50 approximately 12 to 24 months. In general, these are the ones who like the concept of maintaining their lifestyle and feed off of the shared space and the shared sense of community.
To learn more about Mission 50, visit http://www.mission50.com.
Questions for Cowerks Co-Founders Danny Croak and Bret Morgan:
How do you plan to use the money provided by the EDA?
We plan on using the EDA funds to build on the momentum we have seen over the past few years here in Asbury Park and Monmouth County. When complete, we will have, more or less, quadrupled our available space for start-ups and entrepreneurs to run their business as well as launch the first Makerspace in Monmouth Country. Tied in with our expanding classes and workshops we feel that with these funds we will be able to become the go to resource for technology and entrepreneurial activities in the area.
Do you see a lot of collaboration between startup companies at Cowerks? If so, can please you elaborate on this interaction?
It's pretty amazing what happens when you put a bunch of smart and talented people in a room together. Since our inception we have nurtured a culture of collaboration versus competition and it's really starting to shine. There are currently around half a dozen software development shops working on projects together at Cowerks currently and we've really begun to see a community form around them. Every business has their own specialty and we've seen them collaborating on projects together. This not only has fostered the entire notion of community development but allowed all of their businesses to grow by leveraging each other's resources to collectively take on larger projects.
I noticed that workshops that you offer are open to the community. Can you speak to whether or not this translates into new interest in, and therefore new membership at, Cowerks?
Community building has always been at the core of what we have done – whether it be providing affordable desk and office space for start-ups and entrepreneurs, classes and workshops, or networking events such as Jersey Shore Tech. There is a natural cross over for all facets of our model so it's only natural that attendees of our workshops, in many cases, become members of our co-working community.
For more information, visit http://www.cowerking.com/.
Questions for Indiegrove Founder Zahra Amanpour:
How do you plan to use the funding provided by the EDA?
The funding will be used for the space build out and startup costs, i.e. renovations, hardware, advertising.
I noticed you give a Free Friday at Indiegrove where nonmembers can check out the workspace for free. Have you found that this is beneficial to bringing in new members?
Free Coworking Friday launched shortly after we opened our doors in 2013 and has been a great way for people to try out the space and grow the community. We have a few people take advantage of it every week and many of them end up becoming members.
What is the origin of the name Indiegrove?
I wanted a name that captured the spirit of entrepreneurship and reinforced our focus on community and growth. My husband and I were driving up 95 on our way back from visiting family and I threw the word "Indie" out there. We both liked it. Then we drove by a grove and I said how about "Indiegrove." It stuck.
To learn more about Indiegrove, visit http://indiegrovejc.com/.
For more information on funding provided to the tech industry, visit www.njeda.gov and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn @NJEDATech.