It’s hard for a one-person operation or small company to find affordable space to launch their start-up from, and working from home or at a coffee shop isn’t always the most ideal option.
Here’s where co-working comes in.
The concept of co-working involves multiple individuals and start-ups working independently in a shared office space. Having risen in popularity in recent years, people have found several benefits to the practice. Sharing space keeps costs down, and because freelancers and start-ups are in a space surrounded by other like-minded individuals, the networking and collaboration opportunities are endless. Plus, according to a recent survey conducted by Deskmag, 71% of participants reported a boost in their creativity after they joined a co-working space.
Co-working spaces can be found in major cities across the country, including right here in Central Florida. Colab, located in downtown Orlando’s Angelbilt Building, is a co-working space that currently rents out office and desk space to more than 35 individuals and small businesses, including several small tech startups, music producers, digital media companies, non-profits, photographers, and more.
“Everybody says hi to everybody,” says Katelyn MacKenzie, Colab’s Administrative Community Assistant. “If they haven’t met you before, they get to know you. The networking is organic, you don’t feel like, ‘Oh great I have to talk to this person.’ It happens naturally and everybody here is just really easy to talk to. You don’t really get those things in a coffee shop.”
Individuals can rent desk space at Colab month-to-month on either a part-time or full-time basis. Rental comes with free WiFi, free coffee, shared office equipment, and access to Colab’s networking events, like the monthly “Lunch and Learn” speaker series. Colab also rents out private offices and other larger spaces in the building, which is owned by Colab’s founder, John Hussey.
“It seems to me like the tech startups like the collaboration [of co-working],” says John, who owns RealTrend, the commercial real estate company that also occupies the Angelbilt Building. “Since we’ve started here the environment is more, ‘Hey, come and help me with this project and I’ll help you.'”
Another company offering up co-working space in downtown Orlando is Starter Studio. The Studio runs a three-month Tech Accelerator program where a select group of startups are provided education, mentorship, and legal and financial resources before they demo their product or service to a group of local investors. One alumnus of that program is Full Sail Show Production graduate TJ Krusinski, whose SHOFLO software application helps manage professionals in the live production industry. The space’s next Tech Accelerator program will begin in May. (The studio will begin accepting applications next week.)
Both Colab and Starter Studio are a testament to Orlando’s rising tech scene, an industry that’s highlighted in the new Orlando Rising documentary. The creators of the documentary will host a premiere screening in Full Sail Live on February 18.
“A big tech scene is driven by the universities,” says John. “If somebody moves from a small town and they come to Orlando, they have a better tendency to stay here [after graduation]. Then they start their own business. I think that’s part of the driving force behind [the growing scene].”
Colab is in the process of launching InternSHARE, a program that will give local college students and recent grads the chance to work out of Colab’s space and intern with the various startups who are onsite. According to John, it’s a great opportunity for students to be surrounded by all of the synergy that Colab offers.
Full Sail students interested in the internship opportunity with Colab should contact the Career Development department. More information on the upcoming premiere of the Orlando Rising documentary is available here.