Spaces of Success: Unveiling the Coworking Chronicles with Alison, Carl, and Tim

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Spaces of Success: Unveiling the Coworking Chronicles with Alison, Carl, and Tim

Co-working spaces play a pivotal role in the heart of entrepreneurial ecosystems, providing more than just a physical place to work—they cultivate communities. 

I had the chance to talk with industry leaders Alison Rogers of Blush Cowork, Carl Webb of Provident1898 and Tim Scales of American Underground about the evolving landscape of co-working and its impact on fostering diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial environments.

"A lot of our programming bubbles up from the community," Tim emphasized.

Each co-working space has the goal of creating an environment for a unique group of entrepreneurs to build and grow their ventures. Tim kicked off the conversation with a fundamental principle: successful entrepreneurs understand the value of listening to their customers. 

American Underground was initially established as a tech hub in 2010. Over the years, it transformed into a diverse ecosystem, encompassing various business types and community members. Tim emphasized the shift toward community as a primary motivator for joining, highlighting the importance of connections and a sense of belonging.

“We’ve seen a lot more remote workers, a lot more creatives, a lot more nonprofits, a lot of folks who are seeking,” Tim said. “Community has always been key, but now community for many is the reason for joining, and the services and others that we provide are valuable to some, but really, it's they want to look for a place where they can make connections, feel a part of something, feel a part of Durham and grow themselves professionally or their business in whatever way that means to them.”

Alison Rogers, the owner of Blush Cowork, revealed the inspiration behind her women-focused co-working space with onsite childcare. She identified a personal need during her previous entrepreneurial journey, realizing that a supportive space for working mothers was lacking. Blush Cowork emerged as a solution, offering more than just office space—it provides a community where entrepreneurs can thrive while balancing family responsibilities.

“There are all kinds of reasons for people to be there,” Alison said, “whether they need to take a meeting and they don't want to have someone like tromp through their whole house up to the third floor to their nice home office. Maybe they have a great home office and maybe they have great childcare available at home, but there's just something that's not working about that. Or they're just like, ‘I can't do any work if I can hear my child crying.’ There's all different reasons for people to come out.”

Carl Webb, Co-founder of Provident1898, shared his journey of giving back to the Durham community. He highlighted the importance of community engagement, citing the need to sow seeds for a vibrant and active entrepreneurial ecosystem. Provident1898, deeply rooted in the history of Black Wall Street, serves as a platform to elevate the legacy of Black entrepreneurship while fostering an inclusive environment.

“At the core of it for me, it's really about giving back,” Carl said. “It one of those moments where you recognize that, because of the community, in order for the community to continue to be active and vibrant, you have to sow some seed. And so, the idea of Provident1898 for me personally was, to give back, but also to elevate the history and the legacy of Black entrepreneurship.”

The conversation shifted to community building—a core element of successful co-working spaces. Carl emphasized the significance of intentional programming, engaging community managers, and ensuring inclusivity through representational elements such as artwork and music. For Provident1898, community engagement extended beyond its members, reaching out to the public, creating a space for collaboration and dialogue.

“There seems to be a great imbalance between the haves and the have-nots on every level,” Carl said. “And so, I think part of that is the work that we do collectively around engagement and giving people the opportunity to talk to one another to forge relationships that go beyond just money. Money is important, but those relationships and inclusion, I think is just as important.”

With the onset of the pandemic, the co-working landscape witnessed a shift. Members sought more than just office spaces; they sought mental health support and a sense of community. Tim identified co-working memberships as a mental health investment, offering a space for both introverted and extroverted individuals to connect, share, and support each other.

“People, even if you're not directly interacting with them, can feel changing to your day and open up some new levels of focus and creativity or whatever it is that you're looking for,” Tim said. “I had that conversation very explicitly with someone yesterday who said, ‘My membership fee, I think of that as a mental health investment.’ If you are an introverted person and you work from home, it is very easy to suddenly find that you have not had much human engagement and sometimes you need more. Or if you're a very extroverted person, you're just not getting what you need during the day and being around a space with other people.”

Why Choose Co-Working Spaces?

The conversation delved into the value proposition of co-working spaces for entrepreneurs, with Alison emphasizing the productivity boost for teams working together in a shared space.

“I have at least a dozen stories just like that coming out of my space where people were like, ‘No, we're all together, and now we're growing, and it's made a huge difference to the way we work,’” Alison said. “Just in the past year and a half that I've been open, I've seen people really grow from that.”

Tim emphasized the speed and efficiency gained by tapping into a network of diverse professionals. Co-working spaces provide not only a physical location but also a wealth of knowledge and resources, enabling entrepreneurs to navigate challenges with the support of a like-minded community.

“I think it has stayed a very close and supportive and non-competitive community, in a good way,” Tim said. “It’s a very supportive network to be a part of.”

As co-working spaces continue to evolve, these insights from industry leaders highlight the dynamic role they play in shaping entrepreneurial ecosystems. From providing physical spaces to fostering inclusive communities and supporting mental health, co-working spaces have become essential components of the entrepreneurial journey.

The Blush Cowork, Provident1898, and American Underground experiences showcase the transformative power of intentional community building, setting the stage for a co-working revolution that goes beyond shared desks and meeting rooms—embracing diversity, inclusion, and the shared passion for entrepreneurial success.

To hear the full conversation, tune in to the Founder Shares podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts.

The blog content should not be construed as legal advice.

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