A Summary of CoWork

by Mo Collins

What is Coworking?

Coworking is an innovative approach to shared workspace first developed by entrepreneurs on the west coast in 2006. Coworks offers mostly opt-in communal space rather than offices or labs, coupled with a regular flow of social and business interactions between entrepreneurs, investors, talent, researchers, existing business and nascent innovators.

Unlike traditional business incubation, Coworks can serve large numbers of entrepreneurs at any given time and services are not formally assigned to members; instead entrepreneurs are invited to participate in an ongoing calendar of networking and learning opportunities. The Global Cowork Unconference Conference (GCUC) predicts there will be more than 30,000 coworks and 5 million individuals using them worldwide by 2022.

Coworks are widely viewed as a means to increase and accelerate entrepreneurial activity. These spaces adopt the tenets of café culture, creating spaces where “laptopreneurs” can lease a desk on an on-demand basis and serve as an inviting gateway for community entrepreneurs to access myriad of services and networking opportunities. Orchestration of these connections is the primary role of Coworks.

Current Coworking entrepreneurs and their communities have realized substantial gains from this model. Entrepreneurs profess to experience accelerated growth as a result of their Cowork community interactions; they site business problems solved through the application of collective intelligence, strategic partnerships formed, and talent shared among multiple companies and more. Recent Cowork blogs feature stories of older, larger businesses mentoring younger businesses and shared business contracts among Cowork tenants.

More recently, Cowork incubation has captured the attention of angel investors and economic developers who have newfound access to entrepreneurs previously hidden from view in home offices and at Barnes and Noble or Panera Wi-Fi hot spots. The typical Cowork community also offers a wealth of emerging business activity from which the Chamber or other service providers can identify clusters of entrepreneurs around which additional customized services can be developed.

Like business incubators, Coworks are not, by and large, normal profit generators and most require some form of subsidy to be sustainable beyond the three year mark. However, the value of Coworking to organizations associated with entrepreneurial development makes them easy for economic development organizations, universities and others to support. The forecast for 2019 suggests the trend is picking up in rural regions and becoming iconic in urban centers.

Examples of Cowork Spaces

Citizen Space, San Francisco


One of the original Coworks was Citizen Space, which was located in San Francisco and launched in 2006, in part, by Brad Neuberg the innovator who coined the term “Cowork.” Citizen Space took the best elements of a coffee shop (social, energetic, creative) and the best elements of a workspace (productive, functional) and combine them to give workers the chance to have their own, affordable space. Their residents ranged from software engineers, web developers, social media consultants, graphic and product designers, public relations specialists and web hosting entrepreneurs.

Rose Tech Ventures, Silicon Alley

The Incubator at Rose Tech Ventures is at the epicenter of New York’s startup community. What sets it apart is the array of specialty resources and amenities they offer. The founders note that, “Rose Tech Ventures is designed for the best and brightest, dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneurs who are working on The Next Big Thing in teams of 1-5 people. $200/month for a virtual office for starving entrepreneurs- up to Cloud 9; a shared luxury penthouse office for the city’s leading angel investors. 24 hour access, full VOIP telephony, 6mbs broadband, shared board rooms, team spaces and video studios…even a free jam studio with state-of-the-art instruments and a 19th century hand letterpress print shop! Membership in The Incubator at Rose Tech Ventures is by invitation only and limited only to really cool people (sic)”.

Indy, Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, a downtown CoWork incubator called Independent Hall boasts an eclectic mix of “designers, developers, writers, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, educators, small business owners, telecommuters, marketers, videographers, game developers, and more.

Hera Hub

Hera Hub is a Cowork for women only, with three locations in San Diego County, California and a newly launched franchise model. What sets Hera Hub apart is the focus upon things valuable to women- including benefits which ‘touch all the senses’. Hera Hub facilities include artwork and live plants, aromatherapy and water features, massage therapy and female geared work stations.


One of the first rural Coworks, inTandem Cowork is located in Webster City, Iowa (pop. 7,885) and serves an eclectic mix of service professionals, artists and incoming companies needing a basecamp. Located in the downtown district, the inTandem model is part Cowork and part community space.

Smokestack Cowork

Located in Rochester, NY the Smokestack Cowork welcomes small business owners, home based workers and others who may not fit the description of ‘innovator’ at other Coworks. Located in a warehouse, it boasts a strong aesthetic appeal, with typical Cowork services.

Business Accelerator Examples


Take a look at Kellogg Business School’s annual list of top 10 accelerators in the country. The accelerators below are ones recommended by accelerator managers who belong to GANN and made these suggestions to SCOPE workshop presenter Mo Collins.

H-FARM, Ca Tron, Italy

We were born in 2005 in a historic farm estate with the goal of helping young entrepreneurs launch their innovative initiatives and support the digital transformation of Italian companies. We have grown over the years but it is here, in the heart of this territory, that we are working hard to achieve our most ambitious project: to create an enterprise Innovation Village.

Jumpstart Foundry (JSF) Nashville, Tennessee                                               

Jumpstart Foundry (JSF) is a healthcare-focused mentor-driven accelerator with one simple mission: Make Something Better™. Located in Nashville, TN, JSF is dedicated to being the home of healthcare innovation, helping entrepreneurs make something that truly makes a difference. During our 14-week program stretching from May to August, we’ll provide you with the knowledge, expertise, and partners needed to rapidly grow your business. With this proven process, we’ve graduated 37 companies that have gone on to raise over $26 million in follow-on capital.

Jumpstart Foundry cohort companies receive an investment of $100,000 in exchange for a 7.5% equity stake. As a part of the Jumpstart Foundry program, cohort members receive exclusive perks reserved for JSF members, gain the opportunity to learn from some of the top business minds in Nashville, and benefit from extensive connections that only JSF can provide. If you are a healthcare startup looking to truly make a difference, apply to Jumpstart Foundry and Make Something Better.™

Brandery, Cincinnati, Ohio                                                                          

The Brandery offers $50K in financing, world-class mentorship, amazing partnership opportunities and introductions to seed stage investors nationwide.

Global Insurance Accelerator                                    

The Global Insurance Accelerator is a mentor-driven business accelerator designed to foster innovation in the insurance industry by supporting startups targeting the global insurance industry.

We take in early-stage companies who are building solutions that support the insurance industry. We provide seed funding ($40K), access to over 80 mentors, a desk in our beautiful office in Des Moines, 100-days of on-site development support and time on stage at the Global Insurance Symposium to a crowd of 350+ industry executives.