Michelle HammondFollow on twitter www.startupsmart.com.au
Sydney’s east get its first co-working space
A former freelancer for Yelp has opened a co-working space in the Sydney suburb of Edgecliff, while Gold Coast-based incubator Silicon Lakes is opening its co-working space in Robina.
The new Sydney venue, called WeCo, is a drop-in co-working space for consultants, freelancers and start-ups, says its founder Joel Hauer, who is financially backed by a silent partner.
According to Hauer, WeCo is the first co-working space in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
“The main reason [I set it up] is because I’ve worked from home before and it actually sucks, and I’ve also lived in the eastern suburbs and there are no good, affordable places,” he says.
“I was working on a pitch for this same concept for some space the City of Sydney was offering. They were offering it nearly two years ago now.
“I didn’t get that pitch but I got sucked into all the ideas. I had the business plan ready to go and then decided to get back into it with the other [WeCo] founder.”
The venue, which is owned by Hauer’s silent partner, can accommodate around 35 people. Hauer enlisted interior design company InVogue to create an activity-based workplace.
The space – which is designed to increase interactions – features whiteboard walls and whiteboard glass, a café-style seating area and a courtyard.
“People can move around very freely. The space could move comfortably with 16 people but would also be comfortable with 40 people. We would never overload it,” Hauer says.
“We’ve got two full-timers and a couple of daily people, which isn’t bad given we only opened this week.”
The venue has two entrances, including a client-facing entrance. Clients are greeted by a receptionist before being taken into a designated meeting area.
“We’re aiming it more at consultants and freelancers, and start-ups that are more mature,” Hauer says.
“Instead of Fishburners where you have a very casual, male-dominated area… [WeCo has] more of a professional feel.”
In addition to leisure activities such as tennis, barbeques, movie nights and happy hour, WeCo will hold regular events and workshops.
“A huge part of WeCo will be affordable workshops and training events based on digital, design and start-up topics run by industry pros, so we’re planning on building co-learning into the business,” Hauer says.
“We want to make WeCo 50% about workshops and training. I’ve got speakers coming in about once a week to give really affordable – and sometimes free as well – training.”
There will also be a strong emphasis on creating a sense of community, Hauer says.
“What we’re going to do is not necessarily where we decide who’s good for the space and who is not – it’s going to be put on the people who are here,” he says.
“A new person will have to buddy up with two others and, at the end of the day, we’ll chat to those two others and say, how do they fit in the space?”
Meanwhile, Gold Coast-based tech incubator Silicon Lakes, which launched last year, will open the doors of its co-working space on March 5.
Silicon Lakes is located in Varsity Lakes, while the co-working space will be located in neighbouring suburb Robina, although spokesperson Greg Burnett says it’s only temporary.
“It’s not large enough for what we need. [However,] we will be hosting the inaugural Gold Coast Startup Weekend, which is likely to be around May,” Burnett says.