Finding Office Space in New York City as an Entrepreneur, Part I: Co-Working Spaces and Incubators

By Walter Godinez

Finding Office Space in New York City as an Entrepreneur, Part I: Co-Working Spaces and Incubators

Finding Office Space in New York City as an Entrepreneur, Part I: Co-Working Spaces and Incubators
Photo by Carl Dwyer

Deciding that you want to be an entrepreneur and start your own business can be a Faustian bargain. Finally, you’ll be working for yourself, making your own decisions, working on your own schedule, and leaving that boring office.  If you have been working in a corporate setting for a while or if you thought you’d be living the corporate life then these last four reasons can also scare you. Without proper training, time management, and purpose an entrepreneur can lose out on valuable experiences because it is up you to take initiative and teach yourself the latest software, practices, and skills. While these can be tough obstacles one of the biggest challenges that come along with being an entrepreneur is finding your ideal office space – especially in New York.

So you’ve come to realize that you can only get so much done working from your tiny New York City apartment and/or Starbucks and with the addition of a team of freelancers and telecommuters there is a clear need to get together on a regular basis.

We’ve done some research to take the next steps toward finding an office space as a small start up.

Co-Working Spaces

There are various approaches to co-working in New York City, which is not only known for its creativity but also for its innovative use of tight spaces (they say “innovation usually stems from necessity.”) If you enjoy working with others, then a co-working space is a great option for you as you are able to share knowledge, ideas, costs, and culture with your neighbors. In addition, co-working spaces provide small businesses with necessities such as WiFi, printing, and office supplies. Have you tried printing from a coffee shop recently? Applicants and inhabitants of NYC’s co-working spaces include freelance designers, programmers, startup companies, PR and marketing freelancers, writers, students, telecommuters and many other interesting people. Some of the co-working spaces even take equity in some of the small businesses and support you in building out your community. Some of the more popular co-working spaces in New York City include: 

We Work Labs: Founded in April 2011 in the heart of Soho, We Work Labs hosts a variety of events for its tenants including demo days, happy hours, seminars, lunch and learns, and networking events. Another perk of working at We Work Labs is that it tries to segment its office spaces by industries (fashion, sports, etc). Due to its popularity, the price for a desk is $400/month - a team of 3-4 people it can get quite expensive. The interior design of the space is nicely done though.  We Work Labs now has offices located in:

·         Soho: 154 Grand Street

·         Midtown: 349 5th Avenue

·         Meatpacking District: 1 Little West 12th Street

·         Soho West: 175 Varick Street

·         Madison: 261 Madison Avenue

New Work City: Considered a “veteran” in the co-working space because it’s been operating since 2008, New Work City is one of the most open co-working spaces in NYC. The facility is open 9am-6pm, Monday-Friday and there is no application process but it includes a maximum of 80 workers in the space. This workspace in Little Italy has the feel of a college library. New Work City charges $30/day for drop-in, $100/month to work in the space up to four times per month, and for $300/month you will receive a Citizen Membership to work in the space as often as you like during its regular business hours. You also have the ability to use New Work City’s mailing address as your business address. Conference rooms can be booked in advance if you need them. New Work City is located at 412 Broadway, Floor 2.

Hive at 55: Hive at 55 is a shared workspace that offers you a desk to set up your laptop and has three rooms available for big meetings. Hive at 55 was a result of Mayor Bloomberg’s MediaNYC2020 program, a series of initiatives aimed at supporting and promoting NYC’s media and tech industries. Hive at 55 makes it easy for you to become a member. You can choose to pay $25 a day, pay $50 a month for up to three visits, or do co-working full time for $300 a month. You can also do an “off-peak” plan for $150 a month in which you have access to the workspace after 6pm and on the weekends. Hive at 55 is located at 55 Broad Street, 13th Floor.

Studiomates: This office space is a hip new co-working space for designers, illustrators, bloggers, writers, and developers located in Dumbo. For $500 a month you get a desk and are given the opportunity to engage and exchange ideas with other influential entrepreneurs in the technology industry. Studiomates is located at 10 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY.

Green Desk DUMBO: This New York City co-working space is focused on being environmentally conscious, serving organic coffee and implementing a bike rental system. Desks and office spaces are currently available month to month in several configurations at rates that range from $250-$475 for individuals and $600-$3200 for small companies. Green Desk DUMBO has locations in DUMBO (155 Water Street and 68 Jay Street), Downtown Brooklyn (147 Prince Street), and Greenpoint (67 West Street).

Projective Space: Projective Space is a 5,500 square foot space dedicated to progressive thinking. “We don’t want people making cold calls all day here,” says James Wahba, co-founder of Projective Space. Normally, the space is filled with teams of 2-12 people. The cost is $325 a month per seat and Projective Space has offices in Soho (447 Broadway) and the Lower East Side (72 Allen Street).

In addition to getting your start at co-working spaces such as these, you are also able to reserve a desk using sites such as Loosecubes, Desktime, and Deskwanted.

Incubators

Though they are more competitive to get into, if you feel like you have a good product then you should apply to be housed in an incubator. Incubators are typically programs sponsored by government entities, development organizations, or academic institutions. Incubators assist several small companies by offering them inexpensive support resources (tech and admin) and low or no cost office space. Due to an incubators’ prestige within the startup community, the application process is very selective and rigorous. Some of the more popular incubators in New York City include:

The NYU-Poly Incubator:  Launched in 2009 by NYU-Poly and the City of New York, this incubator regularly holds events with industry experts to educate entrepreneurs. All companies have access to high speed internet, phone, mail, fax, printers, and copiers, but most importantly you are exposed to other start-ups. Information sharing and collaboration is arguably the greatest benefit of starting your small business at this incubator. Locations are in Manhattan at 137 Varick Street, 2nd floor, and in Dumbo at 20 Jay Street, Suite 312. 

General Assembly: The 20,000 square foot General Assembly “campus” provides educational programming, space, and support to facilitate collaborative practices and learning opportunities across all aspects of entrepreneurship. GA also boasts an event space that holds 200, a classroom that holds 35, a library, seminar rooms, and a state of the art media facility. GA offers a communal membership for $300/month and a dedicated membership for $500/month. If you already have an established team and want some stability in seating arrangements then General Assembly may not be your best option as there is no assigned seating and it’s geared toward early stage entrepreneurs. General Assembly has two locations: GA Campus East at 902 Broadway, 4th Floor, and GA Campus West at 10 East 21st Street, 4th Floor.

Dogpatch Labs: Launched in 2009, the Union Square incubator allows its companies to move in for 6 months free of charge or giving up equity. Dogpatch Labs has a very relaxed, cozy, living room feeling and its kitchen is always stocked with snacks and drinks. It provides startup companies with internet, office services, and seminars. Its NYC location is at 36 East 12th Street.

NYC Seed: NYC Seed was formed to provide deserving New York City seed stage entrepreneurs with the capital and support they need to move an idea to product launch. The program invests up to $200,000 with the goal of launching an initial product.

What if you are not accepted into an incubator, or a co-working space just doesn’t seem like a good deal? Small companies like us often opt for subleasing or sharing an office space because it provides a bargain when a team is already in place and you want a stable environment.

Part 2: Renting and Office Sharing

Article originally published : September 24, 2012