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Coworking Trend Booming in Calgary; Entrepreneurs use the common work area

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Rebecca Frederick moved from coffee shops and her own kitchen to Work Nicer on Stephen Avenue in Calgary after running her graphic design company Creative Nobility for more than a year.

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Amanda Stephenson • • Calgary Herald

Release date:

August 10, 2016 • • August 10, 2016 • • Read 4 minutes Shannon Hoover shows the joint workshop he will hold on August 4th, 2016 in Calgary for small businesses and entrepreneurs. (Ted Rhodes / Postmedia)

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Rebecca Frederick moved from coffee shops and her own kitchen to Work Nicer on Stephen Avenue in Calgary after running her graphic design firm – Creative Nobility – for more than a year.

She was one of the first female entrepreneurs to open a collaborative store in the new location that offers members everything from desks and office supplies to a gym and unlimited coffee. But since he settled in the room after Work Nicer opened last December, many others have joined Frederick.

“In the beginning there were only five or six people in the office – now I would say there are more than 30 different companies joining on a given day,” she says. “I think the economy might have something to do with it – people who may have lost their jobs now have the opportunity to go self-employed and start their own passion project, and they need a job.”

Collaboration – using a shared workspace to bring entrepreneurs and freelancers under one roof, and give them access to some of the benefits of a typical office environment, as well as a sense of community – is not new to Calgary, but the concept seems to be in its now own come. According to Calgary Economic Development, there are 10 collaborative facilities in the city, with at least two underway.

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Some of the existing facilities – such as Work Nicer and ARCHEloft, a “Maker Space” on 1st Avenue SW – have opened in the past 12 months. Others have expanded – Assembly Coworking Space, for example, opened in 2012 on just part of the fourth floor of a building on 14th Street in Kensington. It now extends over 20,000 square feet over three floors and has 150 customers working for 45 different companies.

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In a way, the collaboration – with its roots in the same sharing economy that brought us Airbnb and Uber – is very trendy. Some co-working establishments offer their members a cool slice of Silicon Valley with fun office perks like foosball and free beer. Why work alone in your musty home office in the basement when you could work in a place where ping-pong tournaments regularly take place in the dark?

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But there is also an economic incentive to work together. In the US, collaboration grew significantly during the 2008-09 great recession as more and more laid-off workers freelanced or started startups to pay the bills. Likewise, the collapse in oil prices and the ensuing economic downturn in Alberta could add to the collaboration boom in Calgary.

“I think there has been an influx of people from the oil and gas sector wanting to get involved and they are filling a lot of the space,” said Andrew Browne, an entrepreneur who works at the Assembly coworking space.

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The trend towards collaboration could also speak for the broader growth of the technology sector in Calgary. Browne, who runs TikTiks – amHe helped design obile app with which sports fans can buy and sell tickets securely via their mobile phones – This collaboration is particularly attractive for tech startups, as they often do not have the resources to get involved in their own office space.

“It fills a void that exists in early-stage companies like ours where you are working on an idea and need space to work on that idea, but you are unable to sign a long-term lease or commit to anything, that goes beyond a few months, ”said Browne.

Manager Sonja Bronstein said that entrepreneurs who work in the Assembly Coworking Space pay an introductory price of $ 300 for their first six months (after that, they go up to $ 400 a month). The fee includes utilities, a desk, internet, printer, coffee, meeting room access, and mailbox – all of those things that the start-up business owner shouldn’t have to worry about.

“We’re joking it’s like your parents’ basement – it’s independence, but you’re not quite there yet,” said Bronstein.

Shannon Hoover shows ARCHEloft, the joint workshop and makerspace that he runs for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Photo by Ted Rhodes /.Postmedia

Collaboration also provides instant fellowship. Many of the business owners who visit these rooms do so because they are tired of working in their garage or home office just talking to the dog. Working together gives them access to a facility full of creative energy and a pool of like-minded people from whom to exchange ideas.

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Shannon Hoover – co-owner of ARCHEloft – said he saw the benefits firsthand. Maker Spaces – basically craftspeople collaboration facilities that provide shared access to laser cutters, 3D printers, sewing machines, soldering irons, and more – encourage their members to collaborate across disciplines. According to Hoover, most entrepreneurs working at ARCHEloft have changed their business or expanded their product line after observing and learning from others at the facility.

“We bring people from different backgrounds together. And innovation is really easy to develop, just like that, ”said Hoover.

Hoover added that some of the businesses that started at ARCHEloft have grown so much in their time at the facility that they have since closed their own businesses. He is excited about the ability of co-working spaces and maker spaces to serve as incubators for a community.

“It’s a great place to experiment – a low-risk way to try something,” said Hoover. “Maker Spaces and Co-Working Spaces are the perfect place to enable innovations. And innovation leads to diversification – which I think Calgary urgently needs right now. “

astephenson@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/AmandaMsteph

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