Why Coworking? I am a “veteran” of the Crema Cafe Coworking site. I have enjoyed spending time at Crema with an extremely diverse group of coworkers ranging from a “paper” artist to a social entrepreneur. Crema gets me out of the house (blessing to the wife). So does working in coffee shops but at Crema, we are making a conscious effort to meet our coworkers either at our “staff” meetings or just sitting and chatting. (You also don’t have to ask someone to watch your laptop when you use the restroom.) I can bounce ideas off folks and get feedback. I think we will see collaborative projects blossoming out of these spaces as the inmates cheer each other on. Since we are not formally tied to each other by a corporate/business umbrella, we are far more open to new ideas. There is no risk to losing our jobs by endorsing visionary ideas.
Coworking blossoms. Here in the Twin Cities we went from no coworking spaces to three in the course of a few months. Are we blessed or cursed? How do you choose between Crema Cafe Coworking, CoCo, and 3rd Place?
Cost. Cost is an issue for me. Although the CoCo space in downtown St. Paul is beautiful and arguably the most professional of the bunch, it’s also the priciest at $35/day ($150 if you buy five day passes together). They do offer a free one-time-only guest pass and I will definitely try that out. (If you’re thinking of trying out the free pass, consider the first week when CoCo will serve breakfast treats!) CoCo has other pricing models including a Cofounder lifetime membership if you sign up as a fulltime coworker ($250/month) before the Jan. 4 opening day. CoCo also has a parttime coworker status for $180/month which offers 10 days of 8-5 access. Check the site for details.
3rd Place pricing is doable on my budget starting with a one-day per week pass for $55 ($44 if you register before Jan. 1). Fulltime 24×7 access is available for $215/month ($172 before Jan. 1!). I just went to their open house and it’s a nice, homey space. There are big tables with plenty of room. You will likely find me working there on Tuesdays in January.
Crema Coworking charges $40/month for access from 8 to 4 each Tuesday. For another $5/week, you get a truly awesome lunch. (Crema Cafe is known for it’s good food along with Sonny’s ice cream. Sometimes we get ice cream.) The space is akin to a coffee shop. Tables are small and some of the chairs and benches are not built for long-term sitting. There is lots of sunlight and an outdoor patio. Wi-Fi access is very adequate. (I may continue coworking at Crema in addition to 3rd Place.)
After looking at these options, I would say we are blessed with coworking spaces in Minneapolis with a variety of amenities, environments, and prices. I think there is room for them all and hope that the new kids—Coco and 3rd Place—can survive their startup months. I predict that as we move into the new decade, other casual coworking sites will spring up at local (read walkable) sites in neighborhoods. Crema is somewhat filling that bill now. It really depends on the kind of community that coworkers want and the focus which might be geographic, tech, startup, etc.
State of Crema. Crema is offline until at least February. Amy Bryant and Zack Steven were “managing” the space. Zack is now a cofounder at the 3rd Place site and I think Amy is also moving on. So if Crema is to continue, someone (someones) needs to be the point person.
Mapping the Options
Nice review, Peter. I think you’re right that we’ll see more spaces crop up. It’s all a big experiment, so we’ll all have to stay flexible and see how coworking evolves. Regardless, it was great hanging with you at Crema and I look forward to seeing you at CoCo as well. Cheers.