Coworking locations have been growing across Iowa over the past few years. These facilities offer community, convenience and a flexible workspace for entrepreneurs and remote workers, but they require some tender loving care to become sustainable and to thrive. In this quarter’s Resource Partner update, we called on Darcy Swon, founder of inTANDEM workspace in Webster City, to share her thoughts on launching and growing a cowork facility.
What is inTANDEM workspace and how did it come about?
The inTANDEM workspace is a hybrid coworking and colocation space located in Webster City since August 2013. I was exposed to the concept when I attended EntreFEST in March 2013 from one of the attendees and six months later we opened our doors. I felt there was a need in our community for a space like this as well as to selfishly fulfill my own needs. Electrolux had closed and folks were headed back to school for additional education and many were opening their own businesses. I thought this would be a good way for them to get a start with low overhead and connect with others going through the same thing. This did not happen, but what we found were businesses looking to open satellite offices in Webster City. We opened our doors with three such members and all are still members today.
Can you talk about membership types and benefits?
We have three types of memberships. One is what we call a “dedicated member”. These members have full access and amenities at the space including a private office, mail delivery and their name on the outside of the building.
Our “mobile members” have full access and amenities but don’t have a private office or a mailbox. They find an open table when they come in and that is their space while they are there.
We also offer “daily” passes. These folks find an open table to work from but they receive no amenities other than coffee, water and WiFi.
- Our amenities include:
- Full access to workspace 24/7
- High-speed wireless Internet
- Mail delivery (Dedicated Members only)
- Name on the outside of the building (Dedicated Members only)
- Trash removal
- Two conference rooms:
- Large conference room seats 12-16 comfortably and is equipped with white boards and a flat screen
- Small accommodates up to 6-8 comfortably and is equipped with white boards
- Education – webinars and presentations to provide exposure to various topics aimed at growing our members’ businesses
- Resources – connecting startups and existing businesses with the proper resources to take that first step and/or to expand their business
- Networking – various networking events to connect members and non-members to raise awareness of the skill set available within Webster City and surrounding areas
We also rent the space for meetings and special events for an hourly rate. We do not charge non-profit organizations and use this as a way we can give back to our community.
With Webster City’s central location, can you describe how businesses who regularly travel can utilize inTANDEM workspace to their benefit?
When in the area, those needing a place to go between appointments to return phone calls, emails and/or to hold meetings with clients, or prospective clients, will find the inTANDEM workspace a great space to work. Right now, many of those that travel for work utilize restaurants and coffee shops as their offices on the road which causes problems with productivity and privacy.
Commuters will like the space during the winter months as we offer an alternative to working from home. As nice as working from home can be, there are many interruptions that can cause loss of focus and make it hard to be productive and professional. The inTANDEM workspace provides a quiet space with all the business amenities needed to do just that. Employers favor this type of arrangement for their employees when they are not working in the office, as they know that their employees will get things done and not risk driving in inclement weather to the office. I commuted for years and would have liked to have had an inTANDEM workspace on those days when travel was less than ideal.
We also have had several folks stop in for the day when they were in town visiting family and needed a quiet space to work for a while without the distractions of kids and family.
inTANDEM’s been up and running for three years now, can you share some successes?
Our biggest success is that we brought four businesses to town since we opened our doors that would not have come otherwise. They were not interested in having a full office and our space provided them with exactly what they needed at an affordable price. Two are from Boone, one from Hampton and one from Ankeny.
In addition, our Social Media Coffee Talk, held the first Friday of every month, has connected business owners to each other as well as those responsible for social media for their organizations. They share what is working, ask questions and learn from each other. We cover a main topic every month as requested by the attendees. We have a Facebook group that is also used by attendees to share information and ask questions between meetings.
We will be adding more education and networking opportunities in 2017 that will help small business owners be successful.
The good, bad and the ugly…What advice can you offer other community leaders across the state that might be interested in creating a co-working space?
It is important to understand that you don’t create the space – your members do. My initial vision and how the space ended up turning out were not the same. However, we have a few professional service type businesses in the space where a very creative space would not work well with their clientele and that is fine. We offer a bright and contemporary workspace that is still conservative enough to represent our members professionally as this is their office.
It is important to do a lot of education about what coworking is for community members and the benefits. It was a brand-new concept for those in Webster City and surrounding areas. I still have folks three and a half years later that do not know what we do. Once we get them into the space whether to see a workspace member, or for a meeting or an event, and they see firsthand how things work, they understand and then become our best form of advertising.
Another thing to consider when opening a space is that you should only offer those amenities that are needed and add as needs arise. You don’t have to offer everything under the sun because your members might not want or need it – every space is different. For instance, we don't have phone lines for the Dedicated Members as they each have their own cell lines that ring into their offices. This is a cost I could eliminate to keep the membership fees down. Also, you need to budget for high-use items such as copy paper, paper towels, toilet paper, coffee, water, and hand soap. Our restrooms get used a lot so keeping them stocked is important.
One initiative I am focused on this year is working with rural communities in Iowa to bring coworking to them and connecting them together. This will provide even more value for those members that travel for a living because they essentially would have an office in many communities.
To find out more information on inTANDEM visit their website at intandemworkspace.com or find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The inTANDEM workspace was also recently added to coworker.com and have had some great reviews from members and those that use the space.
For a listing of other coworking locations across Iowa, visit IASourceLink.com and click on the ‘Get Connected’ tab
Darcy Swon, Founder - inTANDEM Workspace and inTANDEM Marketing