Seattle, Startups and “Coworking”

This article in Wednesday’s New York Times caught my eye. The theme is ‘coworking’:

“where someone sets up an office and rents out desks, creating a community of people who have different jobs but who want to share ideas.”

We didn’t know we were in on a national trend, but this is what Andy and I have been doing since last fall. We now have three companies working in one room (four if you count Askablogr), each operating in a different market, but with significant overlap in their “organizational DNA” (the basic building blocks that make up their go-to-market strategy). Rather than duplicate effort on things like SEO best practices, keyword advertising, and technical recruiting (just to name a few), these companies are able to swap ideas by walking across the room. In addition, the founding teams at each company are able to participate the emotional highs and lows of fellow entrepreneurs, reducing the feeling of isolation that can undermine morale in the early days.

Based on our experience with “coworking” to date, we see real advantages to deliberately clustering non-competitive early stage companies under one roof. We’re still trying to figure out how we can scale the idea, but we think the Seattle startup community would be better off if this kind of environment were more widely available.