Start-ups, entrepreneurs embrace shared office space concept


For fitness guru Kevin Kreider, moving his business into one of those co-working spaces he heard about made perfect sense.

“It allows you to separate your work space from your home,” said Kreider, whose company is called Pursue Fitness. “It’s great how they set it up for you to meet people. I’ve increased my training business to the point where I can’t accept clients.

Co-working spaces are flourishing in Philadelphia. Having an inexpensive office space appeals to savvy tech start-ups, say owners of co-working spaces, but all kinds of businesses seem to be interested in the concept.

Kreider operates his online training business by himself and rents space in Center City from a company called WeWork.

Individual memberships at WeWork start at $350 to $450 per month at the Center City location and are based on how much space is needed. Members can also reserve conference rooms or event spaces at different locations.

Co-working spaces are typically large and open office spaces with plenty of conference rooms and amenities such as coffee, snacks and beer.

“We’re right in the middle of a boom,” said Archna Saha of the Philadelphia Department of Commerce. “[Co-working spaces] are trying to accommodate the need for all of these founders. We’ve seen organic growth with businesses starting here, but we’re also starting to see offices coming in to Philly.”

“There’s a shift in the working culture and the type of environment people want to work in,” said WeWork Philadelphia Senior Community Manager Anita Shannon. “It’s not just with millennials.”

WeWork members have access to an entire network of entrepreneurs and businesses, she said. Seventy percent of WeWork members have collaborated with another member, and 50 percent have done business with another member.

Benjamin’s Desk, another company offering co-working space, also is seeing its business expand beyond start-ups, said CEO Anthony Maher.

“Over the past few years we’ve had a lot of Philly start-ups, but more corporations are putting teams in our space,” he said. “We also have a lot of young entrepreneurs and freelancers. We can’t keep up with the demand.”

Benjamin’s Desk started in Philadelphia with their flagship location in Center City. They now have eight locations in the Philadelphia area and Wilmington, Delaware.

“Just like real estate, entrepreneurship is local,” said Maher. “Philadelphia has connectivity. It may not be what you’re reading about Silicon Valley, but Philadelphia has a lot to offer and it’ll be interesting to see how co-working plays a part.”

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