Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Coworking in Austin: Launchpad Coworking + Cafe

After the Future of Work Salon, Michael Funk of Launchpad Coworking + Cafe took some of us on a tour. Launchpad Coworking has been in the works for a while, but the current credit crunch has made it very difficult for this space to get finished out. It's about 90% done; most of the remaining work will involve finishing out the space - flooring, furniture, etc.

The three coworking spaces in Austin are aimed at very different demographics. Launchpad Coworking is aimed at a high-margin demographic: corporate accounts, for instance. And the environs reflect that. Launchpad is on the ground floor of 800 Brazos, with condos upstairs, and they expect that they will attract people who live downtown and work at Launchpad Coworking. They also expect to pick up some foot traffic: during open hours, an enormous door slides open to reveal a coffee bar with wifi - and beer and wine will be available.

At the coworking space, a concierge will watch over 30 desk spaces. Peripherals such as mice, monitors, and chargers will be available for checkout. The space will also include a server room, printer, fax, copier, whiteboard, and corkboard.

Launchpad Coworking will also include seven meeting rooms: a "treetop" or boutique meeting room accessible via a spiral staircase; three small meeting rooms; three large ones. Each meeting room has own fridge and "green" bottled water in addition to tables, chairs, and large flat-panel monitors. One meeting room is soundproofed; they envision supporting video and audio podcasting as well as voice-over work (easier than flying to LA).

Michael explained that community is not where you are, but who you're with. "You don't force community," he said. So how to facilitate a coworking community at a new space? Launchpad Coworking's approach is to create the right space, leading to an unforced community. They've been working for two years to develop the right space.

Despite the dismal credit environment, once they obtain funding, Launchpad Coworking estimates two months from funding to opening. I hope the funding comes through soon: Launchpad Coworking looks like a fantastic place to work, and it serves a very different segment from the other two coworking spaces in Austin.

For more on Launchpad Coworking, including their own pictures, see Launchpad Coworking's blog.

To see my own (poor) pictures of the space, see my photostream. And to see Launchpad Coworking on the map, see my map of alternative work spaces.

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