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  • Can a Piece of Technology Replace a Coworking Community Manager?

    Our founder Jerome Chang quoted in this recent piece published by Officing Today:


    Coworking community technology

    In coworking circles, a bubbling atmosphere with a vibrant community of supportive members is its most prized possession.

    But building this beating heart isn’t easy. It takes long hours and painstaking dedication, building personal connections, managing workspace dynamics, and organising frequent events and socials as sideline encouragement.

    This takes valuable time, effort and money, which usually comes in the form of a community manager. But for smaller cash-strapped coworking spaces struggling to get going, is there an alternative way to foster coworking’s cherished community?

    As with most things nowadays, there’s an app for that.

    Many workspace management platforms come with built-in social tools to encourage member engagement, in addition to essentials like invoicing, attendance and meeting room bookings. Some apps, however, focus predominantly on the social community aspect rather than the business and booking end of a workspace.

    Rotterdam-based mrWatson is one such example. A quick glance at the website will tell you that while the tool takes care of bookings and analytics, its chief approach is all about building coworking communities.

    Share knowledge

    Straight out of university, young entrepreneurs Bart van der Zande and Fabian van den Berg co-founded mrWatson whilst working in another company’s spare office in Rotterdam.

    “We felt the urge to surround ourselves with other entrepreneurs and share knowledge, experiences, ideas and network,” Bart told Officing Today. “So we started looking for such a space. It was around that time we came up with the idea of mrWatson.”

    During their lonely search for “a sort of entrepreneurial community”, Bart and Fabian found that most coworking space users they met didn’t know who they shared the building with.

    “Working on different floors made people total strangers. Even community managers from successful spaces had to admit that it was difficult to organise communications and help people get to know each other.

    “That was quite disappointing because we really saw the great possibilities a strong community could have.”

    Some spaces use the system as a standalone tool, but Bart believes that it works best alongside a human presence.

    “I think it should be one of the main tools of the community manager,” he said. “It makes their lives easier. A lot of communication can go directly from one person to another or through the whole community, instead of going via the manager, saving precious time.”

    “Humans who speak to other humans”

    Coworking is growing fast, which is bringing innovative ideas out of the woodwork. Established spaces such as BLANKSPACES have seen many novel ideas come and go, and while founder Jerome Chang is open to consideration, he is skeptical over the social element of management systems.

    “I prefer organic, in-person connections. We have humans at the front desk who speak to other humans,” he said. While Jerome has been “researching options” for BLANKSPACES, he remains unconvinced of the value of a social tool that in-house employees already achieve.

    “People are pretty busy. It’s not the headache of managing a system that deters us, it’s the receptiveness from members. The effort to get buy-in will be so huge, the reward is unlikely to be worth it. Then the on boarding and exiting of members who come and go…”

    Victoria Arnold, founder of DeskUnion and manager of The Square in Edinburgh, uses Nexudus as their coworking management platform. It includes social elements such as a community board and members list.

    “Being honest, we’ve not had much online engagement from members despite encouragement,” she said. “Most members look at it as just an extra thing they need to remember to do. They’re already time poor.

    “We’ve toyed with a Facebook group as that’s where members naturally socialise online, but I’m reluctant to duplicate efforts. For us, it’s the physical community activities that are most effective. Regular networking events, chats over the coffee machine, post-it note walls. It’s the simple visual stuff that our members seem to enjoy most!”

    While a social tool can help to alleviate time-strapped operators, it seems some coworking members may be less inclined to add another task to their to-do list.

    As Jerome also commented, the best coworking communities rely on “give and take, not just take” – and there is concern that some members may use social tools to solicit information for sales opportunities.

    Empowering members

    And yet, mrWatson shows that the idea works – and it’s catching on.

    Tije Vos, a community manager at Workspot, which operates numerous coworking spaces in The Netherlands, uses mrWatson.

    “I like the fact that I can manage multiple communities and organise the communication in a way that is much more interactive and less annoying than email,” said Tiie. “It’s really easy for users to discover the facilities that we offer and the people that are in the building.

    “Even when I had just one community, it helped me empower our members to set up events themselves, creating a ‘Do It Yourself’ mentality, which makes it way more powerful.”

    According to Bart, Demand for mrWatson is rising, “just like the market of coworking”. And while he accepts that larger spaces like WeWork can afford to build their own tools, systems like mrWatson can help smaller spaces manage a space without high or ongoing development costs.

    “We are focusing on developing into a platform that can easily connect with other services, making us the ‘people part’ and the portal to all kinds of services that are relevant for coworking spaces,” he added. “In that way we want to be able to fulfil every growing requirement for a platform like this.”

    So the question remains. Can a piece of technology create a coworking community – and can it ever replace a human being? Despite the early successes of some coworking community systems, it seems – for now at least – these developments work best in the hands of a real coworking space ambassador. As Victoria Arnold puts it:

    “Never underestimate the value of an effective Community Manger. They’re the best possible community building tool you have!”

  • NEWS: Inside Downtown’s Emerging Tech Boom

    Inside Downtown’s Emerging Tech Boom – Los Angeles Downtown News

    Posted: Monday, December 15, 2014 5:00 am | Updated: 9:21 am, Mon Dec 15, 2014.

    DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — When it comes to high technology in Los Angeles, the location of choice is “Silicon Beach.” The label describes the thriving scene in Santa Monica, Venice and adjacent neighborhoods that is home to the local offices of Google, Snapchat, Hulu and many smaller companies.


    At the same time, and with far less flash, Downtown Los Angeles is emerging as a destination for some tech companies. While the Central City is not yet a rival to the Westside, certain startups are finding a ripe atmosphere in a supportive, creative community. In other instances, established firms like the ability to grow with the neighborhood.

    There are numerous reasons for this, say tech industry and real estate players. The Central City has cheaper office space than on the Westside, and the offerings are growing as developers build more “creative” office space, with open floor plans rather than traditional corner offices and cubicles (see sidebar below). Others point out that Downtown’s growing roster of restaurants, bars and entertainment spots makes it more urban and flat-out hipper than the more venerable hubs, which is important for an industry with a hefty concentration of young workers.

    Downtown’s greatest tech strength is in e-commerce, thanks to the proximity of the Fashion District and its network of manufacturing and distribution centers. Online fashion retailer Nasty Gal last year expanded into a larger space in its home of the PacMutual Building near Pershing Square. Other web-centric retailers to set up in Downtown include Hautelook, StyleSaint, GoJane, Ella Moss and Splendid.

    Additionally, more than 35 tech startups call Downtown home, according to startup mapping site Represent L.A., with brands ranging from the customer service app maker Showkit to online truck parts shop Findit Parts to teleconferencing company Oblong Industries.

    S. Ryan Meyer, regional director of tech education company General Assembly, has closely watched the area’s growing tech environment.The company, which has locations in 14 cities around the world, is expanding from Santa Monica into new digs at shared-office space Maker City, near Broadway and Washington Boulevard (in the complex formerly known as the L.A. Mart). They are also nearing a deal for a permanent office in the Arts District.

    “There’s a lot of innovation Downtown in the tech sector, and as an educational startup, being closer and more accessible to a majority of people in the city was important,” Meyer said.

    Startup Ecosystem

    One man with a bird’s-eye view of the local tech scene is Peter Marx, a longtime Qualcomm executive who Mayor Eric Garcetti hired to be the city’s first Chief Innovation Technology Officer. His duties include improving tech infrastructure across Los Angeles and tracking tech sector growth.

    When it comes to the latter category, he said, the city is performing “beyond everyone’s expectations.” Marx added that he has noticed an eastward trend in tech talent, and even traditional companies like real estate giant CBRE are choosing high-tech offices in Downtown.

    “Downtown is a completely different place than when I was growing up,” he said. “You have public transit, you have bike lanes, you have nightlife. It has all the characteristics of what a hip, contemporary digital crowd would want.”

    Marx is not alone in pointing to the cultural shift in the community.

    Jeff Ellermeyer founded the production company Buck, which specializes in motion graphics, usually in ads, in 2003. Three years later he moved the growing company from Koreatown to office space on the fourth floor of a building at 515 W. Seventh St., above where Mas Malo and the whiskey bar Seven Grand sit today. Ellermeyer has 30 employees in his Downtown office and calls coming to the community the “best decision I’ve made.” 

    “Production likes to be cool, and one thing I’m noticing now is — this is important for advertising — when clients come and participate in production, they used to want to be at the beach,” Ellermeyer said. “But a lot of clients want to stay Downtown now instead. There’s a tipping point for attracting creatives.”

    Anthony Kelani, the co-founder and CEO of startup app company Showkit, saw a similar hip factor before deciding to move to the Spring Arts Tower after “graduating” from a West Hollywood incubator. He has five employees and plans to expand the office soon. 

    “Everybody kind of congregates on the Westside and a lot of mixers and networking events take place there,” he said. “But you’re starting to see those things in Downtown, too. I think the whole startup ecosystem is growing up right now.”

    The hip factor is complemented by cost concerns. Scott Steuber, a broker with Avison Young, who has experience in both West L.A. and Downtown, said that a number of companies are getting priced out of Silicon Beach and are winding up in “peripheral” markets such as Downtown.

    Rents could be $7-$8 per square foot per month in certain neighborhoods in Venice, he said. It can cost $5-$6 in Santa Monica and $3-$4 in Playa Vista. Meanwhile, rents in Downtown are closer to $2.50-$3 per square foot, he said.

    Steuber doesn’t yet see a full-on migration of tech companies into the Central City, but he noted there are more office options for innovative brands than ever before.

    Other companies are choosing to expand in Downtown. NationBuilder, a digital organizing platform company founded in 2009 by longtime Central City resident Jim Gilliam, is moving from the Pershing Square Building into bigger headquarters in the Biltmore Hotel. Gilliam saidhe resisted pressure to relocate his company, which now has about 150 employees, to West L.A.

    Part of the reason for staying, he said, was to avoid being in a “bubble.” The Downtown location, he added, allows NationBuilder to integrate with the neighborhood in a meaningful way.

    “D.C., Silicon Valley, the Westside — they all have their own dominant culture that’s toxic in its own way,” Gilliam said. “I wanted to be in a community where people were trying to build new from something old. Downtown really represented that to me.”

    Ani Okkasian, director of member experience at Hub L.A., an Arts District incubator that specializes in companies with social entrepreneurship elements and has more than 30 locations around the world, echoed the point.

    “A couple years ago, the Arts District wasn’t as desirable. Now, people are coming in and newer businesses are re-establishing neighborhoods,” she said. “It felt like a neighborhood where we could ask, ‘Can we change it through good business?’”

    Hunting a Juggernaut

    No one pretends that Downtown is a direct competitor to Silicon Beach. Instead, say experts, its rivals for attracting businesses are smaller communities such as Culver City.

    One issue, Steuber said, is that much of the top engineering and programming talent is concentrated in West L.A., and executives from national companies continue to be attracted to living on the coastline. Moving Downtown into the tech big-time, he said, may require persuading a juggernaut company to set up in Downtown.

    That’s easier said than done, of course. Most recently, Yahoo, which real estate players say toured Downtown, rejected the area in favor of Plaza Vista, which is also where Google just bought 12 acres of land.

    Still, Christopher Rising sees big tech potential in Downtown. He and his father, real estate veteran Nelson Rising, founded the company Rising Realty Partners in 2012. Their first project was turning the faded PacMutual Building into a modern creative office complex. It is now more than 90% occupied, with tech tenants including Nasty Gal and movie effects firm Magnopus.

    In Rising’s long view, Downtown has more breathing room for companies and their talent. Santa Monica and Venice are low on space and are getting more expensive to live in, he said, and potential office and residential projects have been “shut down” by the community.

    “When these kids get older and start building families, they’ll run into a huge housing imbalance,” he said.

    Meanwhile, Rising said, younger people are attracted to Downtown’s “24-hour experience,” which he compared to the scenes in San Francisco and New York’s SoHo area.

    Marx has high hopes that the burgeoning Downtown tech trend will continue to grow. The Central City’s emergence, he said, reminds him of an aged San Francisco warehouse, next to a vein of railroad tracks, that software giantAdobe converted into its huge headquarters.

    “It was when Giants Stadium was being built, the Embarcadero was growing, and they’re still there and thriving,” Marx remarked. “We’ll have our own examples, in a very L.A. way, where Downtown and its beautiful buildings and communities stay hip and rejuvenated as a center for technology.”

    Twitter: @eddiekimx

    The Creative Push

    Many Downtown law, banking and insurance firms have traditional office layouts, with executives in window suites and assistants relegated to interior cubicles. Amid the emerging tech boom, however, Downtown landlords are trying to lure innovative tenants by offering collaborative floor plans and modern tech infrastructure.

    It seems to be working.

    The New York-based We Work, which offers shared office space for entrepreneurs in creative and tech industries, recently announced it is leasing six floors (44,500 square feet) of the Fine Arts Building at 811 W. Seventh St. There’s a similar arrangement at Maker City L.A., near Broadway and Washington Boulevard, and newcomer Blankspaces in the Historic Core.

    The L.A. Cleantech Incubator also offers office space and support services to startups, as does its neighbor Hub L.A., which specializes in companies with social entrepreneurship elements.

    If office space is being built in Downtown, it probably comes with the “creative” tag. The former Ford and Coca Cola factories in the Arts District are undergoing such a transformation. The Herald Examiner Building in South Park will also have creative office space as part of its renovation.

    Rising Realty Partners’ Christopher Rising, who oversaw a renovation of the PacMutual Building into creative office space, notes that the shift in workspace design is affecting not just the tech and startup sectors, but “traditional” occupations like law and finance, too.

    “What’s interesting is that the term ‘creative’ isn’t going to mean a lot in the future,” Rising said. “A 32-year-old lawyer trying to start their own business is going to want open offices, too. I don’t see us going back to the time of 10-by-10 offices with all your files in cabinets. We don’t have horse-and-buggies anymore, either.”

    —Eddie Kim 

    Five Intriguing Downtown Tech Players


    Location: 515 W. Seventh St.

    Employees: 30


    Who Are They?: Even if you’ve never heard of motion graphics production company Buck, you’ve probably seen their work on TV. From McDonald’s “Heart Winter” campaign for their white chocolate drinks to Honda’s “Santa’s New Sleigh” ad, Buck does it all. The company, which moved Downtown in 2006, is one of the area’s oldest tech players.


    Location: 506 S. Grand Ave.

    Employees: Approx. 150


    Who Are They?: Count Mayor Eric Garcetti among NationBuilder’s clients; he has used the digital organizing company for a bevy of services both before and after he was elected. The company is known for its software tool that streamlines different tasks — say, finances, employee and volunteer management and growth goals — into a single platform.

    General Assembly

    Location: 1933 S. Broadway

    Employees: Approx. 12


    Who Are They?: Education is being transformed in the age of digital media, and General Assembly is Exhibit A in Downtown. The company offers both online and campus classes with a focus on leveraging technology, with programs in data science, digital marketing, web development and more. General Assembly is expanding from Santa Monica to Downtown.

    LA Cleantech Incubator

    Location: 411 S. Hewitt St.

    Startups: 19 companies


    Who Are They?: This Arts District facility (it’s next to Urth Caffé) is an incubator that nurtures a variety of tech startups. From a cutting-edge production lighting business (Hive) to tricked-out electric motorcycles (Juiced) to experimental lithium ion batteries (CalBattery), LACI teaches the next generation what to do and not do. The incubator, run by Fred Walti, is expanding as the La Kretz Innovation Campus, which will house R&D, conference and workplace training spaces.


    Location: 523 W. Sixth St.

    Employees: Approx. 14

    Who Are They?: Hollywood has come Downtown, thanks to visual effects artists Alex Henning and Ben Grossmann, who partnered with Rodrigo Teixeira to create Magnopus. Henning and Grossmann won an Oscar for their work on Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. Past titles from the duo include Sin City, The Amazing Spider-Man and the Leonardo DiCaprio-led Shutter Island. 

    —Eddie Kim

    © Los Angeles Downtown News 2014

  • 20 Hot Coworking Spaces for Business

    20 Hot Coworking Spaces for Business

    011215 coworker

    Working remotely doesn’t have to mean being cooped up in your house or apartment. Now there are spaces where remote workers and tech startups can get office space or just share a communal work area with others just like them.Coworking spaces like WeWork have even made the news recently scoring big cash investments.

    Robert Conrad, partner in another such venture, Co-Merge Workspace, explainsto UT San Diego why coworking is the future:

    “One, technology enables it. With all that technology offers, beyond face-to-face interaction there’s no reason to have an office. It’s much more effective to have people work wherever is most productive for them. Two, there’s a lot of value in this to big companies. It can reduce the real estate costs, and they’re more likely to retain talent if they allow employees to be more flexible about where they work.”

    Here’s a list of 20 hot coworking spaces currently making news, perhaps one in a city near you;


    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    This New York based startup rents office space to entrepreneurs around the world. WeWork’s business model essentially pairs office space with the technology that it takes to run a business. After a recent round of funding, the company is now valued at $5 billion, making it one of the biggest players in the coworking industry.


    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    With nine locations throughout the country, primarily in California, NextSpace is one of the fastest growing coworking organizations around. Membership varies at each location, but most offer options ranging from day passes with mailbox access to full-time offices.


    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    This coworking space in the heart of Boston offers a professional office setting with a vibrant community of entrepreneurs. Monthly plans range from $99 for conference space and a few other amenities to more than $1,450 for private office space.


    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    Enerspace offers coworking memberships in Chicago and Palo Alto, California. Members can choose between full-time and part-time, coworking and private offices, as well as other offerings. They also have access to special member events like demo days, classes and networking lunches.


    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    This Sacramento-based coworking space features membership for entrepreneurs and makers. Mentorship programs, networking and industry events are aimed at students, professionals and hobbyists, mainly in design and creative fields.

    Posh Coworking

    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    Posh Coworking is a coworking community created specifically for women entrepreneurs. Located in Austin, Texas, membership at Posh comes in various levels, which come with different annual prices and benefits. The space also offers various networking events for women throughout the year.

    The Hive @ 44

    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    The Hive @ 44 is a coworking center in St. Louis, Missouri that focuses on community building. Member amenities include meeting rooms, mail service, a photo and video studio, legal services and more. Cost ranges from $15 for a one-day pass to $575 and up for a private suite.


    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    Entrepreneurs and freelancers in Hawaii also have access to coworking space withBoxJelly. Members can book a dedicated workspace, attend or host meetings and events, or even just use it as a place to receive business mail. Mail membership starts at $50 per month and dedicated desk spaces can range up to $349 per month.


    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    Blankspaces offers three coworking locations in Southern California where entrepreneurs, freelancers and other creatives can gather or work privately. Full-time membership starts at $350 per month. But there are also part-time options for those who want to just drop by once in awhile.



    This Washington D.C. based startup incubator aims to connect startups with the resources they need to succeed, from mentorships to capital. Mainly focused on sectors like education, energy, health and cities, 1776 accepts startup applicants and hosts events at its campus just a few blocks away from the White House.

    Collective Agency

    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    Collective Agency in Portland, Oregon offers a cozy environment for anyone in the area who would rather work alongside others than at home by themselves. Membership ranges from $250 per month to $375 per month and includes amenities such as Wi-Fi, coffee, conference rooms, bike parking and more.

    Tahoe Mountain Lab

    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    Located in the mountains of South Lake Tahoe, California, this coworking space offers both shared and private office space outfitted with the necessary technology for entrepreneurs and freelancers. The space has a variety of different plans to fit different needs, from a one-day pass for $25 to full-time, private offices for over $500 per month.

    Design Spaces

    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    Design Spaces is a community focused coworking space in the heart of Silicon Valley. It aims to provide an office environment to foster collaboration and cooperation between entrepreneurs and other remote workers. Coworking membership starts at $250 per month and includes shared workspaces, conference rooms and other amenities.

    Spark Labs

    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    This co-working space also offers support and consulting services for entrepreneurs in the media and tech industries. With locations in both New York City and Paris, Spark Labs also has partnerships with other incubators and accelerators around the world to enable its members in different markets.

    Venture X

    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    Venture X is a coworking space in Naples, Florida. Members can rent office space starting at $249 per month or rent meeting rooms or virtual office services.

    Game CoLab

    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    Located in Tempe, Arizona, this incubator focuses specifically on the gaming industry. Its aim is to educate people about games and gamers about business, while also acting as an advocate for the gaming community.


    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    With multiple locations in Denver, Colorado, Thrive offers everything from part-time lounge space to meeting rooms and offices. Part-time membership starts at $199 per month. Thrive also hosts various events for entrepreneurs in the Denver community.


    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    Venturef0rth offers 10,000 square feet of coworking space in Philadelphia. The space is a mix of private offices and common areas for entrepreneurs to meet and collaborate. And this coworking space doesn’t keep regular office hours, so its amenities are available to members 24/7.


    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    This coworking space offers a place for entrepreneurs to work and collaborate along with other acceleration services like virtual reception and member events.Thinkspace has two coworking spaces located in Seattle and Redmond, Washington, with more than 300 companies in its community.

    HQ Raleigh

    coworking spaces for entrepreneurs

    This coworking space in Raleigh, North Carolina offers a variety of different options for local entrepreneurs. Coworking membership starts at $125 per month and includes workspace, meeting space, and various other office benefits. And community membership starts at $300 per year and includes access to the group’s network of entrepreneurs and various other benefits.


  • BLANKSPACES Expands Into Downtown LA

    Coworking space BLANKSPACES said today that it has opened up its third location in Southern California, and has opened up a new office location in downtown Los Angeles. The company–which was one of the first coworking spaces in Southern California–said it has opened up a new location between 5th and 6th street, near Pershing Square. The coworking operator said that the new location has eight team offices, ten individual offices, and three meeting rooms. BLANKSPACES also has locations in Santa Monica and Mid-Wilshire.

  • Coworking Space of the Week: BLANKSPACES

    Millenial Magazine

    “Coworking Space of the Week: BLANKSPACES”

    “…BLANKSPACES is the perfect location for Millennials who want to be surrounded by like-minded individuals…Coworking offers a solution to the problem of isolation that many freelancers experience, while at the same time letting them escape the distractions of a home office.”

  • Santa Monica Mirror

    Santa Monica Mirror
    Download PDF

    “Silicon Beach Coworking Spaces: A Fad Or New Trend?” LEE S. SEGAL

    “Coworking offices have emerged as the new commercial real estate office in the past few years in Los Angeles.”

  • Member Highlight – B2B Technology Marketing by Hugh Taylor


    Here at BLANKSPACES, we’re fortunate enough to have one of the most unique mix of entrepreneurs and professionals coworking under one roof.

    Meet one of our newest members, Hugh Taylor. Hugh has written marketing content for clients like Microsoft, IBM, SAP, First Data, and Google. You can pick up a copy of his latest book, “B2B Technology Marketing” here!


    “Marketing technology products to business customers is a distinct discipline. It doesn’t resemble consumer-facing tech marketing at all. It’s not even the same as business-to-business (B2B) marketing in general. B2B technology marketing requires a completely different way of thinking about customers, products, and markets, mostly because these factors are in a permanent state of flux. This book takes a pragmatic, strategically informed view of B2B technology marketing, exploring the essential responsibilities of the B2B technology marketing executive, including: • Lead generation • Filling the sales pipeline • Strategic messaging • Supporting the sales team • Communications and public relations • Creating customer preference • Product marketing”

    “Hugh has served as Social Software Evangelist at IBM, Public Relations Manager for SharePoint at Microsoft, and VP of Marketing at several early stage technology ventures. He is the author of three books and hundreds of articles, case studies, and white papers about the interplay between business and technology. Prior to tech, Hugh worked in television. He earned his AB and MBA from Harvard. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.”

  • LA Biz Journal

    LA Business Journal
    Download PDF

    Ex-Phone Exec Placed on Hold” NATALIE JARVEY

    “Jerome Chang, the founder of co-working facility Blankspaces, said launching that many facilities in a short period of time is very capital intensive. And operating co-working spaces is unlikely to make someone a fortune. “Most people going into this business do it with the co-op mentality,” he said. “They’re looking to make a little margin to make it worth it but not looking to make a financial windfall.””

  • Surprise: Recessions don’t spark business startups

    [By Elizabeth Montalbano, contributing writerJanuary 14, 2010: 12:17 PM ET…an excerpt]

    NEW YORK ( — Think recessions spur laid-off workers to launch new ventures? Think again.

    The Kauffmann Foundation has found that the number of new businesses incorporated annually in the U.S. has remained remarkably consistent over the years.

    “We have a surprisingly steady supply of new firms, despite frequent and sometimes sharp changes in economic conditions,” the study’s authors concluded. “No matter which data set one examines, any given year’s total of new companies is consistent with other years, with annual numbers fluctuating only mildly.”

    From 1977 – March 2009, about 600,000 new businesses were formed each year during that 30-year period. The data includes formally established new enterprises as well as new franchise locations and other outposts of existing companies.

    For more than a year, the potential for startup growth has been promoted as the silver lining of the recession.

    The conventional wisdom goes that as people lose their jobs, they are inspired to launch that innovative little company that’s been percolating in the back of their minds for years.

    Recessions also lower the cost of entry for new companies and make customers more willing to explore less-expensive alternatives to current products or services they’re using, said Rhonda Abrams, founder of entrepreneurial consulting firm The Planning Shop.

    “I liken a recession to a forest fire — it can be devastating, but can clear out weak and old growth,” Abrams said. “Small upstart companies have a chance to get a hold better when their competitors are weakened.”

    But Kaufmann researcher Stangler said there just isn’t data to back up that kind of ‘hopeful thinking.”

    “It’s not that the reasons behind that thinking are bad, it’s just that from the evidence, we don’t expect there to be a huge increase in the amount of startups or a decrease during this recession,” he said.

    Going back even further, to census reports from the 1940s and 1950s, there, they found remarkably similar results. Only one year — 1946 — had a noticeable startup spike, a result the researchers attribute to the effects of the end of World War II and a flood of returning war veterans.

    What’s behind the consistency in startup launches? Stangler said two findings stood out: Even in down times, the U.S. has a fairly stable and consistent economy. Also, the number of working-age adults in the workforce fluctuates little.

    But just because there’s no data to prove that economic turmoil spurs business growth doesn’t mean recession-era entrepreneurs should be disheartened, Abrams said. Citing her own research, she notes that the majority of current Fortune 500 companies were started during tough economic times.

    Another note: more than half of 2009’s Fortune 500 companies launched in bear markets, it reported in June.

    “Even if the numbers of new companies are consistent, you have a better chance at being a big success if you form during a recession or a depression than in good times,” Abrams said.

    She also believes that when the dust has cleared, this recession will have spurred more new businesses than past downturns because the percentage of those who are unemployed will remain persistently high.

    “More people will turn to consulting and other kinds of low-cost-of-entry businesses to tide them over,” Abrams said.

    [see original article]

  • World Magazine

    World Magazine

    “Office Sharing” Angela Lu

    “Chang saw this as a solution not just to his own problem, but a problem plaguing a growing number of Americans: finding human connection—and the innovations that come with it—in an age of working remotely”. [Kristen Abitabile] says it is less stressful than working in a typical office because no one really knows what other people are working on. It also cuts down on office politics since people aren’t competing with each other.