Home Co-working Spaces: Building a Startup Community

Co-working Spaces: Building a Startup Community

As our “Never Mind the Valley” series demonstrated, startup communities are thriving outside of Silicon Valley. A panel at WebVisions 2010 today in Portland< Oregon made a strong case for fostering community not merely in a city in general, but in specific working environments. Bac’n.com‘s Jason Glaspey, Silicon Florist‘s Rick Turoczky, Urban Airship‘s Scott Kveton, and Nedspace‘s Josh Friedman shared their experiences with co-working.

NedSpace and the Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) both provide co-working sites in Portland for tech entrepreneurs. Friedman describes these spaces as “AA for entrepreneurs,” support groups where the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship can be shared.

Co-working, sharing a workspace with others, has become an important way for startups to learn, collaborate, and thrive. Co-working can address two of the major problems startups face: a lack of expertise and a lack of funds. The benefit of having these spaces, the panelists argued, isn’t merely the cost savings on space and equipment rental. Co-working allows startups the opportunity to interact with others who are experiencing the same or similar struggles and who might have bring different expertise and insight to offer.

Often in the tech world, entrepreneurs work at home or, more commonly in the Pacific Northwest perhaps, out of coffee shops. Co-working spaces allow those who work together to, literally, work together. But the added benefit of co-working isn’t just that your team is all together. It’s that you are in a space shared with other entrepreneurs, who are able to help with insight and advice and networking that you wouldn’t otherwise so easily access. All this helps you move your business forward more rapidly

The peer support co-working spaces provides is important. But the panelists noted that a certain amount of trust and confidentiality is necessary, so that those participating can feel safe in sharing their struggles.

Portland has a full calendar of regular tech events, but the co-working spaces specifically provide an ongoing, even daily, opportunity for entrepreneurs to interact.

PIE brings a number of speakers in to talk about issues that first-time entrepreneurs often have: questions about law, mergers and acquisitions, and sales. More importantly, perhaps, both PIE and NedSpace are drawing in VC and angel investors, keen to tap into a vibrant tech startup community outside Silicon Valley.

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