The San Francisco Bay Area is filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of entrepreneurs and fledgling startups who want to make it big. But often what new startups may encounter is trouble finding suitable office space in which they can work at. Sure, you can always go to a nearby Starbucks or a cafe where you sit but one of the troubles of doing that is the endless amount of distractions for the team–loud noises, limited seating time, potential Internet issues, must purchase items periodically, etc. So what can a startup do? You might suppose that working out of a home or an apartment would be good, but that could get a bit tedious and maybe a slight bit uncomfortable after a while–finding a place that can separate work and life might be more suitable. And then you’re working 24 hours a day in the same place without any contact with the outside world? That can’t be healthy.
So what’s there for a young company to do? Maybe take a look at the coworking movement–this global phenomenon that is made up of people who believe in the principles of collaboration, openness, community, accessibility, and sustainability, can be a great opportunity for startups to meet other people and help grow their idea from simply that into a successful concept. Right here in San Francisco, there are numerous places for that to happen. From places like Citizen Space to pariSoma and even others like Rocketspace, Dogpatch Studios, The Hatchery, Sandbox Studios, Founders Den, and more, there’s a lot of different options for companies to go for. But each one has their very own specialty and limitations.
But enough about what’s already here…we’re going to talk about one of the newest additions to the coworking movement and to the San Francisco tech community. It’s called WeWork Labs and it’s set to open its doors this Monday right in the heart of the SoMA district in San Francisco. If the name sounds familiar, then you’re right, because it’s the latest expansion by WeWorks in the United States. It first started in April 2011 in New York City and now houses more than 200 entrepreneurs who work on more than 100 companies. The labs portion of WeWorks is their early-stage arm aimed at fostering the growth of young startups and raised $6.85 million in January. WeWorks has been pretty successful with the companies that have walked through its doors–many of them have gone off to acclaimed success with Y Combinator, TechStars, 500 Startups, and many others. Now, they’re setting their sights on the San Francisco tech scene.
I had the opportunity to take a look at the new expansion of the WeWork Lab empire this week and I must say that the venue holds a lot of promise for both startups and the community. Located at 156 2nd Street, the area is flush with great restaurants, accessible public transit, other interesting companies. This brand-new coworking space is in the same building as WeWork San Francisco and takes up at least two floors with enough space for over 100 entrepreneurs. The only catch? It’s not open to walk-ins. No, you must be a member of WeWork or WeWork Labs and for those companies interested in snatching up a desk at one of the hottest coworking places in the city, there’s a special going on as well…the inaugural class will receive membership rates of $300 per member for the first six months! There’s no annual contract so you can cancel at any time.
Okay, so back to the tour…when you enter the door of WeWork Labs, you’re greeted by a nice receptionist in a pretty laid-back lobby area. The doors are secure and open from 9-5pm every day. After hours, those who want to gain access to the premises will need a special keycard and members have access to the area 24 hours a day. On the main floor, a large room filled with dozens of tables and lots of natural light enough for a productive work day or great event space. Several conference rooms line the walls that give companies the privacy they need for press briefings, calls with investors, or other random meetings that they may need.
On the lower floor, additional rooms can be found that will eventually be filled with more desks that will be reserved for dedicated membership–if you don’t want to buy membership and just stop on in, you can make sure you have a desk at all times where you can leave your stuff. Security seems to be pretty good in that area with security cameras all around the place and anyone who enters the building will need to have a keycard to gain access. But don’t let that dampen your fun at the WeWork Labs. Two game and entertainment rooms are set up to allow you to relax and decompress after all-day development sessions.
If you’re interested in space, make sure you apply now. This is definitely going to be one of the hottest places to work for the next few years and right now, while they’re setting things up, there’s much more to be done–you can be certain that a lot more cooler stuff will be set up in the future.
Photo Credit: All photos courtesy of Kaitlin Pike/WeWork Labs