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Randomness and Why I am No Longer a Fan of Coworking Spaces

Written By: Bob 3 December 2010 Other Posts By: Bob

It wasn’t long ago that I was envious of others working at coworking offices.  I was living in New Jersey traveling to New York City for meetups.  I was jealous of those working at The Hive at 55 or New Work City.  I wanted to be in an office with cool startups and be a part of “the scene”.  After I moved to Boston, I doubled my freelance workload and soon  felt comfortable enough to purchase space at a coworking office in Boston.  Workbar Boston was the new home of all of Robert M. Cavezza’s enterprises.  I was excited.  I was finally able to call someplace home other than my house or random coffeeshops

When I started at WorkBar, I thought I would meet new people everyday.  I thought there would be fresh new startups.  I thought I would be a little more hip than I already was (hard to believe, right?).  It turned out that the same people were there everyday.  It was rare someone new showed up.  Most of the people working there weren’t working on startups, but were freelancers.  Instead of getting a startup feel, I felt like I was working in a fortune 500 company.  :-(

Maybe my expectations were too high.  Maybe I thought a coworking place would make all my startup dreams come true – like hanging out with @Jason and Dave McClure (Man, that’d be awesome).  Either way, I came away disappointed from my experience at a coworking space.

I can still comfortably choose to work at a coworking facility, but now I prefer coffee shops.

I don’t have anything against coworking facilities.  I think they are a great choice for people in many different circumstances.  I just don’t think it’s a great place for a startup.  There just wasn’t enough randomness…

I love randomness.  I thrive for randomness.  I think randomness is something that makes great startups great.  I love being the guy in a coffee shop that butts in a conversation.  It’s awesome!  You can meet someone in an entirely different industry.  You can never predict these random chance meetings and good things almost always come from them.

For the next few months I plan on ditching coworking space while spending much more time at random coffeeshops.

As a side note:  If you want to try a coworking facility, but don’t think you have enough money, you’re probably wrong.  Add up your coffee receipts from last month.  Odds are you spent around a $100 on coffee.  Consider that most coworking hotspots give you free coffee and only cost $150 and you may be surprised that you can afford some office space.

Bob Cavezza lives in Boston and is currently building EasyUnsubscriber.com

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  • http://twitter.com/volomike Mike McKee

    Great point about the coffee and cost! Didn't think of that in that way until now.

  • David

    It could also be the particular way this one is setup, or how much you yourself put into it. There's nothing wrong with seeing 'the same faces everyday'. The real concern (at least mine is) are the people surrounding you merely adding noise or signal in the form of interaction, fueling yourself by feeding off their passions.

  • Rogr

    It seems you may have lost the idea a bit. Coworking is about having coworkers and a productive/creative place in which to work. Most spaces attribute perhaps 10-15% of their time to socializing and doing fun/random stuff. The rest is work. It's primarily a workplace after all.

  • bista

    Most people who use coworking spaces aren't really trying to be cool, or trying to be with cool people, or trying to meet cool people, or thinking about what is cool or what is not or how to be cool. Similar to most people who choose to use Macs. Contrary to some outsiders' perceptions, it is not about being cool. It is about getting shit done.

    But if you want to meet random cool people, it definitely does happen as a side effect. Depends on the space. Some places have plenty of randomness.

  • Greg

    Consider switching to the Cambridge Innovation Center at MIT. Great location, excellent perks (lots of food / beverages available) and the vast majority of people are working on startups. At least give it a look on Thursday nights at Venture Cafe, where VC's meet with founders once a week.

  • Don't be a Dick

    I think that your expectations didn't meet reality. Had you actually spent time in a coworking space you would have understood that they aren't about hanging out with friends and shooting the shit all day, but actually about GETTING WORK DONE. Shut the fuck up.

  • http://twitter.com/imran Imran Ali

    Like all industries, there are good and bad examples…sounds like your local cowork just isnt so good at engineering serendipity.

    However, coworks are just one small component in a healthy startup “scene” or ecosphere and they're a reflection of the residents…

    If you want to see a particular focus, then YOU should contribute to make that happen. Run startup events there; invite founders & investors to speak; invite tech press, curate and showcase interesting people and projects.

    Coworks are about collaboration, openness, community and accessibility – if residents and cowork owners don't live all those values, then that cowork won't flourish.

  • Dontbeadickx2

    Wow… so let me get this straight. You're a freelancer and complaining that everyone else in the coworking space is a freelancer as well? You're not providing any value but expect others to provide you with value? You're like the fat ugly guy who can't get hot girls, and wonder why only the fat, ugly girls like him… I'm speaking both figuratively and literally here. By the way, if you ever catch me in a coffee shop when I'm working on my product, please don't butt into my conversations. You'll find that a lot of people who entertain this are probably only pretending to like you.

  • http://twitter.com/cavezza cavezza

    1.) Yes. 2.) Oh, I will butt in.

  • http://twitter.com/cavezza cavezza

    Appreciate the kind words. :-)

  • http://www.VentureLateral.com Pavan Katepalli

    Wow that's harsh. Did you even read his bio? He does freelance work and has a start up – EasyUnsubscriber.com. And how can you possibly not like to network when you have your own product?

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