Nobody forgets their first. I remember when we met on that warm day 5 years ago. I walked down St Clair street, stepped in the door, and looked up. There were people drinking whiskey, zipping around on electric hoverboards, and the room was full of laptops and excitement, I fell in love. This was my first time seeing a coworking space and I want to share my personal recap of a Detroit coworking space.
In this age, all you need to start a business is a website, a dream, and $75. It’s exciting to start a company, but most companies that start will not exist in five years. And that is without a huge medical and economic crisis. A few days ago I got an email from that coworking space, they are closing their doors for good. There was so much excitement, so much hope, how did it fail? Of course, there is the worst pandemic the world has seen in over 100 years. And other factors can be blamed. I ask 2 questions: should a company exist, and what role does it play?
I believe that coworking spaces need to exist. People are now working from home in droves, but tech companies have been doing it since the beginning of silicon valley. What used to happen is a company would work from home or a garage until it had more than 2 or 3 employees and then they would rent an office. A coworking space is a great middle-ground between working from home, working in a coffee shop, and working at an office. It has what you need from all 3 places and none of what you don’t.
A coffee shop has internet, mood, random encounters, and of course, unlimited coffee. The home has freedom from people looking over your shoulder as you work, and the office has a printer, a business address, and a place to work without home distractions. The role of coworking spaces is a must. Then why did some coworking spaces fail and some are pressing on as in the case of a little place called “Hunt Street Station“(HSS).
The reason I chose HSS as my place of business instead of others is also what I think made them survive 2020, they have an equal amount of hope and practicality. I feel inspired when I am there like in other spaces but they always are looking out for the needs of their members. Very few coworking spaces offer free parking. I would say 7% or 8% of the offices I’ve visited have parking, and that goes a long way. HSS asks the members all the time for feedback on what they need. I remember when I, and maybe others gave feedback about the sound in the phone booths having an echo, and within 1 or 2 months they installed sound-absorbing material which solved the issue. That’s just one of many examples of how they take care of their members.
When the pandemic hit, HSS provided food for people to take when stopping by to pick up packages. We couldn’t work there because of the lockdown but they never stopped taking care of us, including pausing memberships. They have been very cautious to make sure the building is sanitized, airflow is optimal, and proper air filters are used down to the smallest detail.
They opened their doors as soon as it was safe to do so and enforced proper mask-wearing and many rules to keep people safe. They also had virtual get-togethers during this time to help people feel more connected. I may not be able to go to a movie theater and sit and relax with a huge bucket of popcorn, or stroll into a coffee shop and just sit and sip coffee and go through my emails while smelling the aroma and meeting with my friends or someone random. However, there is one place I know I can go to get out of the house, get a cup of coffee, and do some work, and even say hi to a few random people, it’s my coworking space, thank you “Hunt Street Station”.