When it opened, my first thought was “brilliant.” From the name with the “@” sign and the inviting loft-like space to the vision behind it. One year later, many other people feel the same.
The co-working/communal hub on North Broadway, brainchild of multi-talented Jenifer Ross, is thriving by most measures. Full-time memberships are at capacity, the private offices are taken. Workshops are booked through September; there are classes, parties, and resources (and connections) galore for every previously lonely home worker.
But now as Ross looks into year two, she wants to “maximize the revenue streams.” It says something in this economy to break even so soon, which she is, but now she aims to take the business to the next level: profitability. She talks big as we sit at the expansive conference room table and there's little doubt she'll get there.
Some plans: Ross wants to get all membership levels up to full capacity (there's basic 1, 5 and unlimited), book the conference room more, maximize events and workshops. But there's only so much the space itself, she said, can generate. Then, it's up to her creativity.
She wants to start a W@tercooler networking club. And offer a new business start-up package with a menu of all the tools you need to incorporate, brand yourself, get a website going, draft a business plan, trademark, master social media.
Speaking of social media mastery, have you witnessed the diligence of Ross's Facebooking? She admits she can be “kind of shameless. You have to be.” Her day begins, she says with "coffee and tweeting." (Today she offered a great bright green smoothie). She said she needs to learn to do more self-promotion, branding herself, and has bought the URL jeniferross.com. Entrepeneur Magazine will be showcasing her and the space in its August edition.
Then, there could come more baby W@tercoolers. Ross is looking into licensing the business model in places like Ossining, White Plains, Bronxville, Mount Kisco. “People are expressing interest,” she said, calling it a “suburban coworking model” that she's brought to Westchester.
All business plans aside, first we must party like it's 1925 for Saturday's anniversary speakeasy-themed event. There will be live music, tattooes from body painter Margie Nugent, hats, boas, bathtub gin drinks, wine and beer donated by and food from Flavor Vault caterer Mike Shanker, music by jazz man and pianist Michael Taub. (She's building a box around the keyboard so it looks era-appropriate). There will lanterns on the ceiling, poker in the conference room, and maybe even cops will come and pretend to bust the thing at midnight.
Before this are today's offerings: Thursday, June 7 is a free day of coworking at the space during business hours, followed by networking from to 5 to 7 p.m., and a salon-style presentation on online promotion at 7 p.m. “A fun ending to the evening,” Ross said.
She's also generous with her Mondays, which are still “Unemployed Mondays” wherein the jobless are invited to use desk space for free. But here's to hoping we all recover from this 1925 economy and this event will someday be a relic from W@tercooler's early days.
Saturday's party is from 8 p.m. to midnight. Thursday coworking/networking starts now. RSVP for either and get more info on membership here.