St. Paul co-working center kicks off Startup Saturdays theme

Starting your own company doesn’t have to mean working alone.

A St. Paul co-working center recently kicked off a new Startup Saturdays theme. The 3rd Place, 2190 Como Ave., is one of two co-working centers that opened in the city earlier this year. The other is CoCo in Lowertown St. Paul.

Co-working centers are meant to be an alternative to the kitchen table or coffee shop for self-employed and telecommuting professionals, who typically pay a membership fee for access to a workstation, Internet connection and other office amenities.

The 3rd Place, a project of the social-media marketing firm Monkey Island, centers on the hope that a handful of aspiring tech startups will decide to take their projects out of the garage or basement and into its co-working space one day a week.

The sessions are free during the month of May. Amenities include high-speed wi-fi, whiteboards, and a conference room with a projector, but co-founder Zack Steven said the real reason to participate is the chance to be around other startup-minded people.

The real benefit is getting to “talk to people who have done it, and are doing it, and dedicate time to it so you can actually find out if what you’re working on is worth while from a market/business standpoint,” Steven said.

So far, Startup Saturdays have no formal program or curriculum — participants just show up between 9 and 5 — but Steven said they’re talking with local tech groups about possibly developing sessions specifically aimed at entrepreneurs.

Originally published May 26, 2010, by The Line Media.

Co-working sites aim to give Twin Cities telecommuters a better connection

Twin Cities telecommuters have a new option for getting out of the house, and it doesn’t require buying a cup of coffee.

A pair of “co-working” centers opened this week in St. Paul, one in downtown and another in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood.

The centers are independent of each other, but both were inspired by similar hubs on the East and West coasts. The idea is to create a place where self-employed and telecommuting professionals can come together to work, and also benefit from some of the socializing, networking and collaborating that happens in a conventional office.

“It’s not really an office, and it’s not really a coffee shop, but it’s this other, third place and we go there to get work done plus socialize,” said Garrick Van Buren, a Twin Cities web developer who has followed the co-working movement on his blog.

The economy makes it an especially good time to experiment with co-working because many workers are in transition and there’s a surplus of commercial office space, he said. Continue reading “Co-working sites aim to give Twin Cities telecommuters a better connection”