How To Keep Momentum After Startup Week Fort Collins

As Startup Week Fort Collins nears its epic end, let’s make a plan to keep the momentum into next week and beyond. Whether you got your first taste of coworking, got your mind blown by a musician or felt a much needed boost in motivation as a freelancer, it’s important to not let this enthusiasm dwindle.

Step 1: Outreach

Reach out to everyone in that pile of business cards you collected. Mention something that they said that really resonated with you. Invite them out for a coffee or beer just to talk and get to know one another better.  Ask to take a tour of their company. Mine through the Sched again and pull out company names or people you really enjoyed meeting. Follow them on twitter, like their Facebook pages and read their websites.

Step 2: Digest Your Notes

Did you take as many notes in your awesome FCSW17 notebook as I did? Now is the time to go back through all your notes. Check out the books, blogs or resources that you wrote down. Pull out action items and put them on your list to tackle next week. This post you’re reading right now was actually a footnote in my notebook. Look at me! Taking action!

Step 3: Participate OR Amplify

My key takeaway this week is a new awareness of how many people are doing AMAZING things in our community. Now is the time to participate in those activities by attending meetings or helping to push us forward as a group. If you can’t possibly take on another task, then please be an amplifier. Tell your friends and coworkers about the great progress that is being made. Awareness is the first step to Amazeness! Here are some things I learned about this week:

What are you going to take action on next week? Tell us in the comments below.

 

A Guide to Current and Alumni Coherians Speaking at Startup Week Fort Collins

cohere-member-wall

Members of coworking spaces love to support their fellow members in their endeavors. Here’s a cheat sheet to ALL the Cohere members, current and past, who are speaking at Fort Collins Startup Week. Don’t waste another day working from home. Fo(co)works has put together free coworking every day of Startup Week so you can try all of the Fort Collins Coworking Spaces.

MONDAY

How Coworking Can Save You From Destitution (Angel Kwiatkowski, Julie Sutter, Current Members of Cohere)

In a world where you can work from anywhere, why cowork? Hear from members of four Fort Collins coworking spaces about how being a part of a coworking community can supercharge your skills, connections and success as a solopreneur, freelancer or non-profit.
Moderator: Angel Kwiatkowski, Founder, fo(co)works (Fort Collins Coworking Alliance).
Julie Sutter (Cohere)
Aaron Todd (Cohere) Only he’ll be stuck in Canada waiting for his work visa to renew :(
Logan Hale (Articulate)
Sara Durnil (The Music District)

FREE Drop-In Coworking at Cohere

Enjoy FREE drop-in coworking each day of Fort Collins Startup Week courtesy of fo(co)works, the Fort Collins’ coworking alliance. If you’ve been coworking-curious, cooped up your your home office or fighting over power outlets at the coffee shop, this FREE event is for you to try out all the amazing coworking communities. To attend, simply show up at the space you would like to visit on their free day. You can cowork for a few minutes between sessions or up to the full day.
• Monday 9a-4p: Cohere at 418 South Howes Street

2015-06-26 17.05.52-1 (1)TUESDAY

Getting Started with Your Startup (Ariana Friedlander, Recent Graduate of Cohere)

Wish you felt smarter about starting your own startup? And had some quick start tips & tricks to get there? We’ll walk you through a business model canvas quick start… You’ll leave this session knowing just what you need to tackle, next —  to create or scale your own startup!

Endurance is the Price Tag of Achievement (Kristin Mastre, Alumnae of Cohere)

Startup life is all about tenacity. Sometimes your plans may become obsolete as society (or technology) evolves. Sometimes the community doesn’t hold as much value in your product as they once did before. And sometimes the toll of startup life almost kills you. I’ve been there. Most (sane) people throw in the towel and quit when the going gets tough, and I’ve found that “fail fast” doesn’t always work in Fort Collins. Entrepreneurs generally aren’t sane nor do they quit easily. I’ll share how our foray into market research got us ready for a pivot and how burnout led to new business perspective.

Sourcing and Valuing Local Marketing Creative (Julie Sutter, Current Member of Cohere)

How do you find the talent located in your own back yard? What is your true cost in sourcing your photos, video,written content, web design, logos locally? Hear from local creators and experts about the added benefits of using local firms and artists to fulfill your business marketing and strategic goals.

I’ve Looked at Clouds That Way (Brian Fromme, Alumus of Cohere)

This talk will help entrepreneurs to better understand their own need to learn about cloud technology. Most non-technical people think of the cloud as a place to store data. But, the cloud can be used to make your rapidly-changing business processes more lean. In this talk, you will learn about aspects of cloud technology and how you can utilize it in your startup to grow more quickly without adding headcount.

Startup Music Videos and VR Show and Tell (Shane Zweygardt, Current Member of Cohere)

Join us for an hour of locally produced and directed music videos in the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater.

From Soloprenuer to Multi-Person Business (Nick Armstrong, Mary Merritt, Alumni of Cohere)

Calling all Solopreneurs! This month’s Fort Collins Internet Pros meetup is a collaboration with Fort Collins Startup Week. Look forward to a 45-minute roundtable discussion with local business owners, followed by audience Q&A. Panelists will share their tips and experiences as Solopreneurs—growing their businesses from one-person shops to team-supported enterprises.

Integrating Social Media with WordPress (Jeremy Green, Current Member of Cohere)

Whether you blog, design, code, sell, or anything in between, if you use WordPress then you belong here. Even if your just interested in finding out more about this powerful piece of software, please feel free to join us!

We will be discussing all things WordPress, including themes, plugins, security, blogging, and business uses. There is so much you can do with WordPress. So whether you are just getting started, have mastered the basics, or are a WordPress core developer, we have a place for you!

https://www.meetup.com/Fort-Collins-WordPress-Meetup/events/237558045/

ianclapWEDNESDAY

Access to Capital: Show Me The Money (Ryan Stover, Alumnus of Cohere)

Are you seeking funding for your small business but are unsure of where to begin? With all the options available for small businesses today, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed! The Larimer SBDC and Innosphere are partnering to bring together several types of funding sources and respective experts for you to ask questions and get answers.

THURSDAY

Work-life Balance for Entreprenuers: Staying Happy and Healthy While Building a Business (Chrysta Bairre, Current Cohere Member)

Learn how the 80/20 rule applies to your work and life as we discuss how to build a successful business without sacrificing your health and happiness, including top tips for creating healthy habits, improving productivity, and focusing your efforts on what will get results in your business without burning you out!

Crowdfunding for Today and Tomorrow  (Ryan Stover, Alumnus of Cohere)

Crowdfunding is an ever growing trend to get early stage ideas off the ground. Colorado leaders in the crowdfunding arena let us know where it is today and where its headed. Get the inside scoop on how startups and entrepreneurs are accessing billions of dollars of usable capital through this innovative financing method.

Startup a Music Business (Angel Kwiatkowski)

Starting a business is hard. Starting a music-focused business can be even harder when it comes to tight budgets.  Music businesses must learn to balance their affinity for helping musicians with the reality of the cost of doing business. Come by The Music District to hear from local professionals that have been able to create and sustain music related businesses over the long-term.  Bring your curiosities and questions to learn about music entrepreneurship.

Startup Music Software Stories (John Dawes, Cohere Alumnus, Rob Viola’s Company Vionza, Current Cohere Member)

This panel will feature stories and experiences of music software’s creative leaders.  This is an opportunity to both meet and learn from the folks that make great ideas great.

_MG_6937FRIDAY

How to Self-Publish a Book Without Losing Your Shirt or Soul (Ariana Friedlander, Recent Cohere Graduate)

Ariana will share the story of how she applied Lean Startup Principles to write and self-publish her first book, A Misfit Entrepreneur’s Guide to Building a Business Your Way so it was profitable within a few weeks of it’s release. She will then challenge attendees to begin re-imagining their idea with a Lean Startup lens and provide insight into how to maintain your soul while steadying yourself for success. This engaging and fun talk is relevant to anyone embarking on a creative endeavor that is entrepreneurial in nature.

Meet the Female Founders (Maria Gregori, Cohere Alumnae)

The Typo That Cost $620 Million (Molly McCowan, Current Cohere Member)
What do NASA, Lockheed Martin, and the U.S. government have in common? They’ve all paid the price of a missing hyphen, misplaced comma, or rogue letter.
Hear the true stories of companies that have lost millions of dollars, trashed their reputations, and even gone out of business because of one typo.
In today’s world of instant connection, Autocorrect, and the ubiquitous screenshot, one mistake can spread around the world and take on a life of its own—with just the click of a button.
Learn why it’s worth the time and money to hire a copyeditor or proofreader to look over your company’s written content (including proposals, whitepapers, contracts, blog posts, email newsletters, and marketing collateral) before you click “send.”

Happy Hour Networking for Musicians at Cohere Bandwidth (Angel Kwiatkowski, Tim Massa, Current Cohere Members)

(free beer/drinks)
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My Favorite Coworking Things: Cobot and Zapier Integrations

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Zapier and Cobot high-fiving… only via the internet… and at night while I’m asleep.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Cobot coworking management software platform. Somewhere around my third year of running a coworking space, I tore a small chunk of my hair out by the roots as I sorted through some sticky notes and google sheets trying desperately to figure out if member x paid a prorated amount back in December or if I owed them money for some reason.

I was DONE. Even with a modest 30 members, I couldn’t keep track of everything. Rather than throw in the towel (laptop), I tried a Cobot trial month and it changed my life.

I love Cobot because it makes me efficient on tasks I DON’T NEED TO BE PRESENT FOR and gives our now 62 members stability. They always know what to expect from payment and how to reserve a conference room. I’ve become a bit of a Cobot power user as of late and boosted my efficiency by integrating Cobot and Zapier to automate even more tasks in my coworking space. Cobot asked me to tell you about the zaps I like best.

By far and away, automating the new member welcome email has changed my life. I no longer have to remember if member x got the door code or if member y will know where to park on her first day. All that data is in the welcome email. Zapier “watches” my Cobot and every time there is a new member, Zapier sends my gmail template email to the new member at midnight on their first day of membership. I love the consistency in experience that each new member gets from this integration.

Zapier Task History

A couple month’s worth of automating the new member email.

My second favorite integration is automatically adding new members into our slack chat room. It’s like a little instant gratification ping for a brand new member to instantly find themselves in our digital sharing/joke world.

My third favorite integration is adding new members to a google sheet where we mainly keep track of our capacity and when peoples’ birthdays are. My goal for this quarter is to reverse this process and delete cancelled members from that same spreadsheet to save even a little more time.

When it comes to Zapier and Cobot, I’m sure you can think of at least one task you can automate that will have no impact on the strength and sense of connection in your community. Between Cohere and Cohere Bandwidth I have nine “Zaps” automating anywhere from 10-50 work tasks a week. I always feel smug when Zapier sends this out:

Zapier weekly tasks

Zapier did 49 things for me this week.

Here are some more examples or you can find them yourself at http://zapier.com and then type Cobot into the search bar.

Zapier Popular Cobot Zaps

Some of the most popular Cobot integrations with Zapier.

Unsolicited Advice for Displaced Galvanize Coworkers

So your coworking space is closing. That super sucks. You’re all entrepreneurs and self starters: problem solvers of the quickest kind. I’m hear to say to you STOP. Do not take action on a lease right now.

I’ve been working on coworking and community in Fort Collins and around the world since 2009. That’s three years before Galvanize incorporated for its first space. At the time of Galvanize’s closing, Cohere was/is on a wait list for membership. I think I’m worth listening to…at least when it comes to coworking in Fort Collins.

Please Hold

I was on hold with Comcast but I use this photo every time I want to indicate that I am exasperated.

Do not make decisions right now.

You’ve had a big crushing blow to your heads when it comes to office space. The great news is, you can office from literally anywhere these days. You could invite your employees into your living room and probably get in a solid day of work. A small gap in well-equipped office space is not a crisis. Spaceships won’t fall out of orbit. DO. NOT. MAKE. DECISIONS. RIGHT. NOW.

All the displaced coworkers need to take a collective deep breath and process what the fuck happened in your spaces and communities. Because you didn’t own the space, you might not understand why your space is closing. On paper, your space closed due to lack of money. In my mind, your space closed due to lack of community and an overzealous interpretation of the market research about how many people wanted to pay $26,000 to learn how to code. The fact that you didn’t know your space was closing until you got the announcement is proof that your space lacked one of the key values of coworking: transparency.

Do not sign a lease and especially don’t try to keep the Galvanize lease.

That Galvanize building will be one of THE most expensive buildings in Old Town. You don’t spend a few million on a renovation and thousand dollar desks to cut a great deal to the poor displaced members. That space has NOTHING to do with Galvanize’s success or failure. Okay, I’ll admit it was absurdly expensive but the space didn’t do much to foster community. At all. Don’t even get me started on the caste system of placing people on higher levels based on how much they could afford. Ugh.

If you love your current startup or business, you will hate being a Community Manager.

I bet you want to start your own coworking space. I bet that feels easy since you’ve been a member of one for a little while. Being a member of a space and running a space are really different. It took me TWO full time years to get Cohere off the ground. Even now, I have a small army of part time people to help me attend to all the details of our relatively small community. If you don’t want to abandon your other job, do NOT start a coworking space. Also, there is far less money in coworking than you might think.

Explore your existing coworking options first.

There are at least three shared spaces in Fort Collins that are not at capacity. Please give those a chance before trying to start your own. The Articulate, Digital Workshop Center, and Office Evolution. The fact that you were all in the same world (startup and tech) is actually a disservice to your companies. You’ll grow more when surrounded by people in different stages of growth including those people who have dialed in their businesses and are NOT in startup mode as well as the freelancers that are keeping everyone’s small businesses afloat.

cohere-member-wallHire me so you can have ^^ this many friends in your coworking space.

You don’t have to do this alone. I will encourage and teach you how to engage your budding community before you sign a lease so we don’t have to read about your closure in 18 months. Email me right away to get my $500 one-on-one consulting package. It even includes math worksheets and realistic member growth rates! There’s also another compelling reason to email me right now but it’s a secret until January 1.

 

 

If You Don’t Have These 7 Types of Members, Your Coworking Space Will Fail

It takes all kinds of people to make a coworking space go ’round. Does your coworking community have all SEVEN  types of critical members? If not, you better manifest them in a hurry!

  1. The Connector: Forget 7 degrees of separation. This person probably had lunch with Kevin Bacon yesterday. Your super connectors take pleasure in connecting two people together on a theme. The more bizarre or remote the connection, the greater the thrill for a connector. Question you are most likely to be asking a Connector, “do you know anyone who (jumps rope while singing, used to work at that one company that was over on Riverside?)…..??”
  2. The Attentive: This member knows a little bit about any topic. You’ll find them frequently scrolling social media platforms and reading a wide variety of headlines (they probably don’t read the actual article). That thing you mentioned about baby pigs in passing? She stored it for later use. An Attentive makes a wonderful community manager because she remembers all the small details about members (and who hates coconut on their donuts). Question you are most likely to be asking an Attentive, “Hey, do you know anything about LED bulbs/composting/SEO/best chocolate….?”2015-06-26 17.05.52-1 (1)
  3. The Sarcastic: The eyeroll and upside down face emojis are this member’s best friend. They are extra quick with the quips. Any new member who can survive a day coworking next to Mr. Sarcasm will be a member for life.
    Notable: The Sarcastic usually pairs well with a Counselor (if you’ve got one in your space).
  4. The Extrovert: You don’t need very many extroverts to make a coworking space work. In fact, I recommend a max of 3 and never in the same room at the same time unless you like to hear 3 people talking at the same time all day. Your Extroverts are perfect for social events and getting conversations started. Disclosure: I’m an extrovert and banned from our quiet coworking areas.
    Question you are most likely asking the Extrovert: invalid. They will ask YOU the questions.
  5. The Caretaker: Sometimes referred to as a “Work Spouse,” this person attends to the earthly tasks of the space. Taking out trash, changing lightbulbs and tightening door handles all come with the territory. Some Caretakers actually enjoy this (mindless) work as a way to take a break from the hardcore analysis/thinking of their day job.
    Statement the Caretaker is most often telling you, ”people aren’t washing their dishes again.”
  6. The Empath: It’s hard to find an empath that can actually function in a coworking space for long periods of time since they can be quite drained by being around a lot of people all day. If you are lucky enough to have an Empath, love them hard while they are there. The Empath will sooth nerves and validate the other members’ emotions. They’ll see your soul with merely a glance and are easy to talk to.
    Question the Empath is asking you: they will ask you about the thing you least want to talk about at that moment but you need to.
  7. The Catastrophizer: Arguably my favorite type of member, the sky is always falling. Changing a lightbulb? According to the Catastrophizer, you’ll probably drop it, it’ll shatter and we’ll all inhale some carcinogen. Launching a business? This is the member to buy a six pack for and let him run down all the ways you’ll be homeless by next Tuesday if you do anything. The Catastrophizer is great with safety checks, emergency plans and alerting someone when the toilet paper is low.

Do you have all seven types? What other types would you add?

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Coworking: Must-Have Supply List

Seven years into running a coworking space in Fort Collins, I’ve finally compiled a list of the most game-changing items you can purchase for your coworkers. From desks to dishes, Cohere has the scoop on everything from power strips to parchment papers.

We’ve had our fair share of desk iterations at Cohere. From highly customized and huge curvy desks with integrated power to bomb-proof dorm desks, I’ve finally found the best option for us and they are $99 each. Sweet. Please raid your IKEA accordingly. (IKEA is not paying me for this post. In fact, I was so wary of yet another desk that would fail me, I only bought two so the coworkers could test-drive them for several weeks).

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The IKEA THYGE desk measures an ample yet space saving 24″x 48″. Its legs attach with some effort but the overall effect is one of total stability and feels high end even though you’ll be giggling over your frugality. The legs ADJUST from 23″ to 35″ making it comfy for even the most stubby-legged members. Once our desk transition is complete, we’ll have 2 short, 2 medium and 2 tall desks for members to choose from.

The smooth uncluttered surface provides lots of spare room for your flex-deskers like remote software developer, Ian, above and enough room for the permanent dual monitor setup of remote software developer, Kevin, below.

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The thing we’ve missed most from the early days of Cohere is the integrated power we had in our custom desks. IKEA finally solved this problem for us by creating a clamp-on mount ($10) and pairing it with their power/usb strip ($14.99). Add their cable storage under mount basket for a nearly seamless office experience. For those of you doing math, that’s just $128.99 per workstation (you only need 1 cable storage basket per two desks).

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Cons: these desks aren’t on wheels but the feet of the legs are smooth enough that they are easy to slide around on carpet. If any of you have found a wheeled desk option that is this high quality for the same price, I’ll eat my bank statement.

Now that we’ve got your members working productively, they’re going to need snacks. Member Laurel casually asked me one day, “hey, for the next version of upgrades, can we get a toaster oven?”

Seven clicks and two days later, we unwrapped this beauty ($24.95). Laurel originally thought it would be a nice supplement to our stocked PB&J bar but I doubled-down on the idea and bought cookie dough.

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I’d love to say that we have exercised restraint and reserve warm cookies-on-demand for Fridays or Mondays but we don’t. Someone bakes goddamn hot cookies every damn day and it is spectacular. I highly recommend these mini break-aparts by Nestle. Pair your new baking members with parchment sheets ($5.89) for easy cleanup and an adorable mini-spatula ($8.99). Ignore the review where the lady says the spatula is “too tiny.” She is absurd.

Last but not least, I give you the thing that a member bought and put on my desk with the note, “Angel, this dish brush will change your life. Trust me.” -Lucinda

We’ve never had a dishwasher at the Old Town Cohere locations so we soldier on by hand-washing; never quite satisfied by other dish brushes, sponges or scrubby things.

The OXO brush not only takes the cake, it obliterates the cake with a swipe of the wrist and the push of a button.

I know you are super stoked to read about the features of a dish brush. Here they are in no particular order: it sits up in a stand that collects its own drips (I wish my baby did this), it only dispenses soap when you press the button on the handle, it never gets smelly and it really cleans the dishes!

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Bonus item: a little whiteboard above our sink. This has been the most effective message to date. It’s also a decent reminder to me that even if I have to wash a couple of spoons every morning, I’m doing a job that I LOVE alongside people I LOVE. No dirty dish stands a chance against that kind of happiness.

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How to F^ck Up Your Second Coworking Location

angel gcuc speaker

I recently got invited to present FAILURE at the Global Coworking Unconference Conference in Toronto, Canada. I take spectacular pride in my ability to fail with flourish and since the GCUC crowd always likes a good train wreck among stories of 43 Billion Dollar valuations and epic expansion stories, I indulge them. Below is the narrative of the failure and here is a link to my slides.

 

falling down

https://www.flickr.com/photos/felixtsao/4909753834/

Near the end of 2013, 4 years after Cohere hit the coworking scene in Old Town Fort Collins, I had to start turning away would-be members. We were full, things were great. So naturally, I would make a series of unfortunate mistakes that would lead to the 2nd space’s death in early 2015.

To be clear, I did SOME of the things right. In fact, all early indicators would point to Cohere’s second location being a raving success.  Here’s what went right:

  • I had a wait-list of members who wanted to join Cohere.
  • Cohere was nearing auto-pilot. Systems helped manage the behind the scenes tasks, 3 members had a strong hold on the day to day in the space and I was getting bored.
  • I selected a location that was near to OG Cohere but further south in an up-and-coming neighborhood called Midtown where rents were still affordable and the housing market was blowing up in all the right ways.
  • I took many, many members through the building pre-lease and they steered me away from one suite into 3 other suites they were much more excited about.
  • The members lovingly name it Cothere. It sticks. It’s perfect.
  • Natural light, windows, trees and parking were in abundance.
  • After we got into the space, the Coherians partied to clean up the parking lot and build furniture. It was spectacular fun and had all the trapping us Veterans look for in budding communities.
  • I paint everything, repair broken door knobs and make our entrances more safe. I pour all my love into this physical thing that will allow Cothere to grow and flourish.
  • I met and offered up our space after hours to our brand new Girl Develop It chapter. We love each other so much.

Things start to take a turn for the worse:

The landlords fail to make improvements to Cothere that are in my lease: working windows, safe stairs for our private entrance (my mother-in-law almost falls 2 stories after the railing breaks away during move-in) and cleanliness issues in the common area start to clog my inbox

And A LOT worse:

  • Nearly every day, concerns about lack of health and safety in our parking lots and common area restrooms begin to flood in.
  • My repeated requests for help from the landlords are met with either silence or passive aggressive notes in the common-area bathroom saying, “PLEASE KEEP THIS RESTROOM CLEAN!!!”
  • I become mortified when new members ask where the restroom is. The members say, “this building is dicey but Cothere’s areas are NICE!”
  • I spend 3 hours cleaning bathrooms just to prove to myself that I’m right about how dirty the bathrooms are. I am right. I get pneumonia 5 days later.
  • The restrooms are dirty again. ALL. THE. TIME.  I have to explain WHY we need more toilet paper. Sarcasm floods through my veins. “We have explosive diarrhea!” “All the women are synced up this week!!” “We are STEALING it because we are terrible people!!”

Piper

The last straw:

  • The landlords tell me in an email that goes out to all the other tenants of their building, “you don’t pay enough to have the right to complain.”

I check out. I resent the space. I no longer care about it. I do the bare minimum that an office space rental agency does. Paper towels? Check. Vacuumed? Check. Coffee? Check.

I bring on a friend to help the Cothere community and she tries really hard but we are broken. Midtown is broken, the gross restrooms are broken, our parking lot is an ice skating rink in winter and a mixed-media nightmare of dead squirrels and fallen tree limbs in summer. I refuse to pay more for basic tenant rights.

I stop coworking at Cothere. I repeat. I STOPPED COWORKING AT COTHERE. <—-really important warning sign

I spend all my time at Old Town Cohere. I breathe a sigh of relief every time I cross the threshhold and see the man that takes care of our lawn. I run into the landlord and he inquires about my well-being and asks if everything is okay in the building. He compliments Cohere, the members and how proud they are to have us as tenants. They are always a text away. Quick to fix and utterly un-involved in our day-to-day ops.

I get out of my lease free and clear on their breach of contract. After an extremely polite email exchange requesting the termination of my lease and having them agree, I feel this:

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Down from a high of 20 members, the 3 remaining Cothere members join Cohere and love it. Just. Love It. “It’s so happy here!” “Everyone talks to me!” “I thought I wouldn’t like Old Town but I DO!” Several private office members at Cothere REMAIN in Cothere’s space after we leave. <—-this blows my mind.

So Really. WHAT went wrong?

As a veteran of the coworking community, I was raised up to always put the people first and see the physical space as a useful container that merely facilitates connections between people. Sure, I always made sure that Cohere’s container was lovely, cared-for and well-tended but none of my spaces until Cothere had ever existed inside a larger shell of a bigger building that I had no control over.

I began to think like a member as I approached the larger shell of Cothere’s space. Unkempt parking lot, dead bugs and leaves in the lobby, outdated decor in all the wrong ways, a soul-less, colorless hallway and then finally, the mecca of entering Cothere’s suites.

But sometimes the journey to mecca is just too far.

Post-hoc, I realize that Cohere has a really important value as a company and as a community that I had never said out loud, never consciously thought about and never wrote about. And this value includes the entirety of our physical container from the grounds around the building, to the entryways and all the way to the inner sanctum of our coworking areas.

To BElong to Cohere you must BE eager to help everyone feel proud of our space and the people in it.

Because Old Town Cohere has always had a loving landlord (we actually call him the Innkeeper) who tended to our grounds and common areas we had never truly felt the pain of a building owner who literally could not hold our container with positive regard. That, in turn, caused me to spend all of my Cothere energy trying to help the landlord learn how to hold the container that held US! He made it clear that he couldn’t hold the container. Won’t. Wouldn’t even pick it up and try.

As the community manager, I had nothing left to give the people of Cothere. My usual zest for connection and energy to give and listen was tapped out. My arms, my heart, my brain, were overwhelmed by TRYING to figure out how hold a container that didn’t actually belong to me. To us.

After asking the members what I should do about Cothere, all but one say a version of this, “we’ll follow you where ever you take Cohere (as long as it’s not in THAT building). Do what is best for you.” So I laid down the container. Permanently. After 14 months I gleefully get out of my lease and bring everyone back together at Cohere. The community is overjoyed that the saga is concluded.

As if the universe was bulging with abundance while it waited for me to sort out my shit, its fabric rips open and pours forth a rush of people who want to join Cohere. Tours are joyous again, filled with people and introductions and I don’t have to make excuses for the common areas. Each day we border on being full. Full of members, full of laughter and connectedness, donuts and lunches out together.

Cohere Social Event Hotdogs

A hot dog potluck marks the closure of Cothere and the revitalization of Frank Friday

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I immediately refine and add our values to our membership page:

BE yearning for interaction

BE willing to introduce yourself, make friends and help

BE ready to participate in impromptu and planned events

BE eager to help everyone feel proud of our space and the people in it

BE prepared for abundance (work, laughter, goodwill, and more)

Key Learnings

When considering expansion, don’t look for a building. Look for people.

  • Look for a community helper who is invested, excited and willing to put in the hours needed to bring people together.
  • Look to your existing members for feedback and talk about what expansion means for both communities.
  • Find a commercial Realtor who can add very specific language into your lease about maintenance and responsibilities.
  • Look for a landlord who is capable and willing to hold a container for you. MEET your landlord(s) in person before you sign.

Brave enough to share your epic failure? Post it in the comments or email it to me!

COHERE BANDWIDTH OPENS REHEARSAL SPACE IN DOWNTOWN FORT COLLINS

Shared practice space for local musicians to celebrate grand opening on June 27 in Old Town

Arliss Nancy courtesy Craig Okraska of Chromatic

Arliss Nancy courtesy Craig Okraska of Chromatic

Fort Collins, Colo., June 9, 2015 — After two and a half years of planning, preparation and construction, Cohere Bandwidth announced today that it will open its doors on Saturday, June 27 for musicians looking for rehearsal space. Two fully backlined practice rooms featuring high-quality gear, secure access and state-of-the-art sound mitigation are available for bands to book online at coherebandwidth.com starting today. Located at 317 Jefferson St. in downtown Fort Collins, Cohere Bandwidth is housed in the same building as The Downtown Artery’s new music venue, also scheduled to open June 27.

“While the entire process has been lengthy, the result is completely worth it,” said Cohere Bandwidth owner Angel Kwiatkowski. “The location couldn’t be more perfect. We’ve been able to construct this safe, comfortable, convenient workspace for musicians in the heart of Old Town Fort Collins, and it’s housed within the artistic ecosystem and creative community that’s blossoming at The Downtown Artery. The entire building is filled with people helping, inspiring and collaborating with one another, and the possibilities inherent in that are endless.”

Cohere Bandwidth offers plug-and-play hourly practice space for local and touring musicians, and was designed after extensive research and input gathered from several Colorado bands. Hourly rehearsal rates are set at $20, but a limited number of monthly memberships are also available at $145 for 8 hours of rehearsal time. Members of Cohere Bandwidth are also eligible for discounts and freebies from local merchants, including food, beer, gear, professional creative services, clothing, and more. Members also get advance priority access to booking, so they can choose and reserve regular rehearsal times in the Cohere Bandwidth schedule.

bandwidthmembercard

Kwiatkowski, who owns and operates Cohere Community (shared office space for independent creative professionals and remote workers), was motivated to create shared rehearsal space for musicians after hearing the story of local bands Fierce Bad Rabbit and Wire Faces having their practice space robbed.

“I was pretty horrified at the story, not just of the robbery, but of the conditions musicians typically work in,” she said. “The more I learned about what bands need in a practice space, the more parallels I saw between the coworking community and the music community. Why should our artists be forced to work in substandard conditions? They’re business owners, too, and deserve a workplace designed to suit their needs.”

To make sure the space continues to be inspired and guided by the musicians it serves, Kwiatkowski hired drummer Shane Zweygardt of Wire Faces as Cohere Bandwidth’s General Manager.

shane incognito

“It feels good to know that one of the musicians that was the catalyst for this whole project is now helping to run the rehearsal space,” Kwiatkowski said. “Shane is one of the most respected artists in the community and his input has been invaluable as we build the space.” Zweygardt was formerly a long-time employee of Colorado Drum and Percussion, the now-defunct local music store that was once in the building Cohere Bandwidth occupies.

rocksolid

Cohere Bandwidth will host a private party for friends and family on Friday, June 26, but has purposely scheduled the public opening of the practice spaces to coincide with the Downtown Artery’s venue grand opening, to demonstrate the synergy and camaraderie between the two businesses. “They’re the best neighbors we could ask for and we can’t wait to celebrate with them,” Kwiatkowski said.

Cohere Bandwidth offers 24/7 access via unique door key codes. Online booking for June 27 and dates beyond is available immediately. Bands can register online at coherebandwidth.com and purchase hourly rehearsal time or monthly membership as needed.

The Downtown Artery venue grand opening on June 27 features Denver bands Itchy-O, Super Bummer and Panther Martin, along with Fort Collins favorites Stella Luce.

###

Cohere Bandwidth and Cohere Community

MEDIA CONTACT: Angel Kwiatkowski

angel@coherecommunity.com

(970) 219-4061

www.coherebandwidth.com

317 Jefferson St., Fort Collins, CO 80524

 

For more information about The Downtown Artery, please contact:
William Knudsen, Director of Marketing and Development

william@downtownartery.com – (970) 682-2668

www.downtownartery.com

252 Linden St., Fort Collins, CO 80524

Shit I Never Thought I’d Have to Buy This Coworking Space

A surprise county tax form afforded me the opportunity to review every purchase I’ve made for the Cohere coworking spaces in the past 5 years. Some stuck out amid my former business plan list of what a coworking space needed (wifi, coffee, desks, chairs, power strips) In no particular order I present to you a cautionary listicle of shit you might have to buy for your coworking space:

12 Forks

A dual plug digital power cycler for Unifi Pro wifi access points

12 Forks

Unicorn pinataFullSizeRender_1

Eleventy hundred packs of Command adhesives

The world’s secretly tiniest and least useful trash/recycling bin

Moon Gels

Chia Obama Handmade Decorative Planter, Determined Pose: Priceless

Preformed coin wrappers, 100 count, quarters (of which I have used exactly 8)

1 pack multi-color star stickers

3 Tripp Lite N201-020-GY Cat6 Gigabit Gray Snagless Molded Patch Cable RJ45M/M – 20 feet

4 Forks

TV Cart / Stand for LCD, LED, Plasma, Flat Panel TVs with 3″ Wheels, mobile fits 32″ to 50″: bomb proof

200 million Tripp Lite PS2408 Power Strip 120V 5-15R 8 Outlet 15ft Cord Vertical Metal 0URM

400 ForksFullSizeRender

Lite Brites: 2

12 More Forks

Recessed Door Reinforcer 1-3/4-Inch Thick by 2-3/8-Inch Backset 2-1/8-Inch Bore, Stainless Steel

Music Note Black Poly Resin Coated Tin Cookie Cutter 3.5″ for use in making Cohere Bandwiches obv.

IMG_3512

Polaroid High Capacity Replacement Battery For The Polaroid Instant Digital Camera

Portable Foldable Universal Mini Desk Table Stand Holder For iPad: code for world’s cheapest/most effective ipad standFullSizeRender_2

Congratulations (Gold) Award Seals Stickers – 4 stickers per sheet, 8 sheets: I wanted silver. Not gonna lie.

What weird things have you bought for your coworking space?

Stop Fucking Up This Type of Email

suggestion-boxIn a world of increasing remote work and ever expanding social networks people are desperate to connect in a more meaningful way (besides our lovely coworking space in Fort Collins). Often, that meaningful way is to get a cooperative 3rd party to introduce you to someone over email. If one more well-meaning 3rd party sends me a “connection” email like the following, I’m going to go CRAY all over the interwebs.

Angel,

I was in a meeting with these folks yesterday and thought you’d all like to connect. Find their email addresses above.

Tom

WHY?! Why would I want to email a bunch of strangers? It’s sort of like ringing my doorbell and slinging a couple of strangers into my living room then driving away, tires squealing. But because I’m a lovely person, I tried to email the strangers and ask what they needed from me but Tom, in his infinite wisdom, mistyped all of their email addresses so they all bounced back. Tom, you’re a peach. Never change.

Here is a formula for crafting connection emails that won’t make your friends and colleagues cringe:

Character Key:

Needer: person who you’re trying to help

Giver: person who you think can help

Me: I tell the Needer that I’ll send a connection email so they know it’s coming. OCCASIONALLY I will warn the Giver that a connection email is coming but since I’ve pretty much nailed the connection email process this isn’t usually necessary. I ALWAYS address the Giver first in the email and the NEEDER second.

Components of the Connection Email:

Address the email to both the NEEDER and the GIVER.

Title: Please e-meet each other!

Giver,

I’d like to introduce you to my friend NEEDER. She loves X, Y, Z (Z is always directly related to the need they have). Background info like relocation, education, jobs or another way they might know each other OR the context of why they should know one another (you were both at my birthday party). Needer asked for my help in meeting people who Z & A so naturally you jumped right out at me as an expert in those areas. NEEDER will be emailing you with more info about the project etc. Needer is also available to help volunteer for your upcoming event if that’s helpful for you.

Needer,

Please meet my dear friend, GIVER. She loves X, Y, Z and we’ve known each other for xx years. She has been instrumental in Z & A so she’ll be a wealth of information for your upcoming project. Giver is wicked busy right now due to an upcoming presentation so it may take her a few days to get back with you. Thanks for being patient.

I’ll let you two connect directly from here as everyone is copied on this email. I hope it’s fruitful for you both!

Angel

Summary:

There are a couple of key components that will make your connection email more useful to everyone.

First, in order to pull off a stellar connector email, you HAVE to know both parties fairly well. You won’t be able to address their likes, needs and personality if you’ve never had a good conversation. If you don’t know each party well enough to follow the script above YOU SHOULD NOT BE SENDING CONNECTOR EMAILS!

Second, always make it clear WHO is supposed to take action. 99% of the time, I ask the NEEDER to send the next email and a tip on what it should contain. This removes ALL the ambiguity of who is supposed to do what and it’s the key thing that is lacking in almost every connection email I RECEIVE. #awkward.

Here are some real world examples of connection emails that I have sent in the past month:

Amanda M,

Please meet Amanda W.  Amanda is relocating here in August. She mentioned that she’s certified in event planning, has an MBA and loves coordinating business events so it seemed natural to connect you two.

Amanda W, please meet Amanda M. Amanda and I have known each other for years and she’s a neighbor to our midtown Cohere location. Here is her website xxxxxxxx. Amanda is well-connected to many businesses, events and the arts scene here in town.

 I’d love for you two to meet sometime and see if an interesting connection pops for you. I’ll leave it to Amanda W to email Amanda M.

 Glad my name’s not Amanda,

Angel

C,
Please meet S, Founder of the xxxxxx. We used to be next door neighbors in Fort Collins (our businesses, not our homes) and S is expanding into Denver. He’s looking for connections with the coolest coworking spaces both for space to conduct the tech workshops AND as a business landing place.

S, Please meet C of xxx xxx. We’ve been circling each other in the coworking world for 4-ish years now?! xxx xxx is very similar to Cohere and if I may be biased, is my favorite Denver coworking hub. C is the founder and community manager for both locations.
S, please email C and explain in more detail what you’re needing.

Angel

***********************************

Go forth and connect.

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