My name is Jesse Waites, and I am an entrepreneur in the Cambridge Coworking Center space at the Cambridge Innovation Center, called C3 by insiders. Anyone who pays attention to the media knows that the tech space is white hot right now (Instagram aquisition, anyone?) and Kendall Square is right in the center of it all. With all of this generating media coverage there has been a lot of curiosity lately about incubators, coworking spaces, and “the next big thing”, so BostInno has been kind enough to allow me to shine some light on what happens within in our co-working space.
You see, I run a technology services company called PNTHR. Basically, people or businesses have an idea or concept they’d like to move on but need people with the technical know-how to make it happen. This puts me in the unique position of running all over the building and interacting with tons of people.
So what the hell IS a co-working space exactly? Well, a Coworking space is this big open area with a lot of desks, fast internet, food, coffee, and printers. Here at the Cambridge Innovation Center entrepreneurs pay $300 a month and get all of the food they can eat and internet they can surf. A lot of the companies in the coworking area are 1-3 person teams, so it makes sense to use the facilities here instead of renting their own place. We also have access to mentors and even have a dedicated space at the Artisans Asylum to work on hardware projects. With those perks and that great price, I can’t think of a better place to launch a business than the CIC.
When I first get in, I stop off on the 4th floor and pass through the Critical Mass area. My friend Dan made a promotion video for CoachUp.com, and I ask the CEO Jordan Fliegel how the shoot went. “It was awesome, man. We shot from 8am to 8pm so it was a long day, but your boy Dan seemed happy with the footage.” Awesome.
Jordan and I then chat up our friend Elise of WhatIsBe.com in the kitchen and I hit the stairwell to the 5th floor. The way the Coworking space works is that we have access to the 4th and 5th floors. People are welcome to sit wherever they like, but eventually people subdivide themselves into groups and work together. It’s like sitting with your buddies at lunch in high school. I work out of the Critical Mass space when I need to concentrate on programming, but usually I work out of the Greenlight Labs room so I head that way. When I walk into C3 on the 5th floor I bump into my friend Sidi, Founder and CEO of Parallel Cities. Sidi is also the C3 space curator. He is in charge of making sure things run smoothly around there and he does a great job at it.
I make a pass through the 5th floor and check to see if there is anyone I need to talk with. Nope. I grab some water and head towards the Greenlight Lab when I notice a posting on the massive calendar on the wall. The CIC believes in providing us the tools and opportunities to succeed both in business and in life and these guys really deliver. On Tuesdays we have both a Yoga class and a Running club, and it looks like I’ll have to take a pass on running today as I forgot my sneakers. I make a mental note to remember my shoes for next time and to sign up for todays yoga class.
I head towards the lab and bump into my buddy Jared at the door. Jared is the Founder of CareerVillage and the guy behind TEDxCambridge, and sits near me in the lab. He makes a joke about the same Coldplay song playing over and over on the iMac in the corner and I tell him I can’t handle that and will look into the Spotify settings ASAP. He laughs and heads off to a meeting while I take a look around the lab.
The blinds are up on the windows and sunshine pours into the room. At this point I boot up my MacBook and plug in for a while to answer emails and get caught up with clients. Around here, headphones in the ears are a sign that means “Do Not Disturb- I’m plugged in”, so I dig out my headphones and notice that same Coldplay song is still playing on repeat. Just then someone else fixes it and puts on the band Explosions In The Sky, so I sit back in the cockpit to get ready to fly.
A few hours later I get up to get some water and I hear a familiar voice: “Yo.” I turn around and see my friend Nick is taking a break from programming. He invites me to head to the coffee shop next door to take a break and I agree. Nick is one of the founders of WeFunder.com and a startup we are all excited about. Nick and his cofounders were instrumental in getting the JOBS Act passed and are creating a Kickstarter-like platform for startups. In a few months regular people will be able to buy shares in startups and he and his cofounders are part of the reason why. Superstars.
After coffee we hit the elevator back to the lab and I check my email again. Nothing important, so I change clothes and attend the Yoga class down the hall in the Havanah conference room. After Yoga, its a shower and right back to work in the lab. I’m building a social network for one of my clients and I open another browser window to test some things. I knock it around a bit to see that everything is working as expected and just as I’m finishing I get a tweet from the restaurant Firebrand Saints next door asking me to stop by. Firebrand Saints has become our local hangout because they’re very interested in developing relationships with entrepreneurs in the area. I ask the guys in the lab if anyone is up for a pint next door and get a few positive replies. The crew and I hit the elevator and walk to the pub when I see a friend on a Zagster bike heading into the garage. Zagster.com put a fleet of bicycles on the premises for CIC clients. Simply register on the website and tell them when you want to use it. They send you a text message to unlock the bike and you’re on your way, free of charge.
Just as I walk into Firebrand Saints I see the owner Gary and the manager Morgan talking near the massive projector display. We all shake hands and exchange pleasantries and get right to business- I’m the host of a Demo Night for tech startups and we need to plan our next event. We all check our smartphones for a date when we can all attend and settle on a Tuesday a few weeks out. After that I join my friends at the table and see that Dan Sullivan of Crowdly.com and Ben Cohen of Statement1.com have joined us have joined us. Dan and I start talking about crowdfunding and what a gamechanger it is. “Crowdfunding really changes the usual pattern of business and manufacturing.”, I say. “Just a few years ago if you wanted to sell a product, you had to build a prototype, manufacture it, ship it, store it in a warehouse, then hope people would want to buy the damn thing.” Dan agrees and says “It fundamentally changes this process. With websites like Kickstarter, you can basically presell your product and use those proceeds to fund the construction. It’s backwards in the best possible way. Not since the Gutenberg Press has there been such a technological innovation in manufacturing.”
I get distracted by another conversation nearby and tune in to hear John Moore talking about our little gang here at the CIC. He points to one of the TVs above the bar just as a commercial for the Avengers movie comes on and says to another entrepreneur: “We’re like the Avengers. Individually were doing great work, but we all have different strengths. When we work together we can change the world.” A that point we do a small cheers with our glasses and the table gets unusually quiet for a moment as we take in what John just said, thinking about of individual businesses, our collaborations together, and wondering what happens next. Its going to be an interesting summer here at the CIC.