Coworking Options Plentiful in Charleston
Jul 11, 2018 03:24PM ● Published by Emily Stevenson
While Charleston is historically known as a great place to do business, the landscape is broadening even further with the rise of coworking spaces that make untethered work more accessible than ever.
Coworking spaces, as a general term, can be defined as places where those who work from home or who work remotely can go to experience a working community. Depending on where you are and what industry you’re in, this can look incredibly different from place to place.
In Charleston, the coworking offerings have taken off, and now the types of spaces run the gamut: from corporate chains to small boutique spaces, there is most likely a coworking space to suit your needs.
One of the largest spaces, with more than 4,000 square feet of workspace, is the Holy City Collective on Daniel Island.
Its president, Paul Sorensen, moved to Charleston from the greater New York City area in 2011, and says that while he fell in love with Charleston as a city, he almost immediately recognized a need for a space like this.
“I noticed it was lacking good meeting spaces, and I always had to resort to coffee houses,” he said. “I found that there was a whole network of people like me and that Charleston has become this national or global city where people can live here and work elsewhere. I didn’t want a traditional office, because I feel like there’s an energy and a synergy that comes with rubbing elbows with like-minded people and leaders.”
The space features a completely open floor plan and is outfitted with every type of work station from solo desks to tables to conference rooms. Sorensen says the beauty of such a simple design is that it can serve entrepreneurs in one corner to techies at a conference table—even professional jazz musicians take advantage of the space.
To Sorensen, the most important ingredient in the recipe for coworking success is knowing your audience.
“I think the future of coworking is bright, but one needs to know their context and place in the city,” he said. “I think you have to have a lot of flexibility and adaptability to lead a coworking space, and you have to know exactly which sector of the city that you’re serving."
The Harbour Entrepreneur Center, for example, is located in the Pacific Box and Crate campus on King Street, and its coworking space was created out of necessity from its start up and accelerator programs as a place where its members could work on new initiatives.
While many coworking spaces feature different tiers of memberships with different lengths of commitment ranging from drop-bys to full-year leases, Dee Hamill, who is in charge of operations at the Harbour, says that their model is different because they specify their space as a temporary solution.
“A lot of times, we’re peoples’ first entry into the start-up world,” she said. “So we’re not really just a coworking space: We have the space, but our model is that you’ll come here and we’ll help you grow and you can do that here, but then you’ll get out there on your own.”
Another niche space, The Eves Collective, brands itself as a boutique coworking space for women entrepreneurs.
The Eves Collective came out of the start-up Launchpeer, when it outgrew its office space. Launchpeer’s founder, Belinda Hare, wanted to reuse the space to give back to the women in the tech community.
Quinn O’Neill is Launchpeer’s operations manager and runs the day to day at The Eves Collective since it launched six months ago.
“It’s for women who are here in Charleston who are starting their own companies. Whether that’s in tech or not, there’s a very active founder and entrepreneurial community here in Charleston and to create a space for women founders who are starting and launching businesses, where they can come together to share ideas, be in a space where people are talking and supporting one another, was the hope and ambition of The Eve’s Collective.”
The Eves Collective also distinguishes itself by being extremely tight-knit, with fewer than ten workspaces in its space.
“I think it makes it easier for those conversations and discussions to spark when you truly get to know the vibe of seven other women that you’re sharing the office with,” O’Neill said.
As for the future of coworking, almost all parties can agree that there isn’t an end in sight.
“I think certainly coworking spaces will continue to grow in Charleston more generally,” O’Neill said. “I think Charleston has a booming entrepreneurial scene, and I think that will only continue to grow as the city grows. With more entrepreneurs starting and founding their own companies, they’re going to need and want a space where they can be around other people, share ideas, and learn from one another.”