A Brooklyn-based coworking space will become the first office tenant in the former home of the National Science Foundation’s headquarters, now known as the Ballston Exchange.
Industrious will open its third location in the D.C. area on the third floor of 4201 Wilson Blvd, according to a news release from the building’s owner, Jamestown LLP. The coworking space signed a 10-year lease at the location in a 24,795-square-foot suite.
Jamestown bought the building, as well as the adjacent 4121 Wilson Blvd, for a combined $300 million in 2015. But the NSF decided to relocate its headquarters to Alexandria last fall, spurring the property owner to kick off $140 million in renovation work at the buildings and go on the hunt for new tenants.
“The addition of Industrious shows our commitment to providing Ballston residents, workers and commuters alike with premier business and lifestyle opportunities,” Jamestown President Michael Phillips wrote in a statement.
Jamestown has already lured several restaurants to the development, with Shake Shack, We The Pizza, Philz Coffee and Cava setting up shop in recent months.
Those stores and others will line a shared courtyard between the two buildings, set to open in full by the end of the year. A pedestrian bridge will eventually connect 4201 Wilson to the newly revamped Ballston Quarter mall, but that project has encountered some delays recently.
As for Industrious, the company hopes to open its Ballston location by early 2019. It operates more than 40 coworking spaces across the country, including locations in downtown Bethesda and in D.C. near Logan Circle.
After serving up frozen treats for the last decade along Wilson Blvd. in Clarendon, Boccato Gelato is now set to relocate.
The gelato and espresso lounge posted a notice on its front door and social media accounts Saturday (May 19) that it will soon be moving elsewhere, leaving 2719 Wilson Blvd. behind.
However, the restaurant’s managers wrote that “our future location is in the works.” They did not immediately respond to a request for comment on where they might be moving.
“While we were very lucky and blessed to have found this amazing spot in 2008, it has been quite a task and great challenge to keep up with the obligations of our lease,” Boccato’s staff wrote. “We would like to thank our landlord for giving us a chance to serve you in this wonderful location, and to all the employees of Arlington County for helping us get started and giving us the opportunity to introduce our business to the beloved town of Clarendon.”
The restaurant’s managers added that they have not yet decided on when their final day serving up scoops on Wilson Blvd. will be, and plan to post that information to their Facebook and Twitter accounts in due time.
The move will not affect the Cowork Cafe, however, which has operated out of Boccato for the last three years. The notice Boccato posted said that the Cowork Cafe has signed a new lease at the same space.
Region Sets Heat Record — The National Weather Service reports that Arlington and surrounding areas set a heat record yesterday. The temperature at Reagan National Airport reached 91 degrees, which tops the previous record of 89, set in 1930. [Twitter]
Co-Working Space Opening Soon — TechSpace, a new co-working space, will hold a grand opening event and happy hour in Ballston on May 15. The 20,000 square foot office will open in the Two Liberty Center building (4075 Wilson Blvd) across the street from the under-construction Ballston Quarter Mall. [PR Newswire]
Playground Design Meeting — County staff will present the two concepts for the new playground at Rosslyn Highlands Park and take feedback from the public at a meeting tonight. It takes place in the library at Key Elementary School at 7 p.m. [Arlington County]
Theodore Roosevelt Island Survey — The National Park Service is seeking feedback via a survey for improvements to Theodore Roosevelt Island, including possible bridge and comfort station upgrades and the addition of a boat dock. Today is the last day to submit comments. [National Park Service]
Reduced Parking in Fairlington — As the Fairlington Park Project enters its final stages, 19 parking spaces will be occupied for construction equipment staging. Visitors should plan ahead for the parking challenges.
New Marymount President — Dr. Irma Becerra has been chosen as the new Marymount University president and will take over the position on July 1. She comes to the school from St. Thomas University. [Marymount University, InsideNova]
Spaces is located at 1101 Wilson Blvd, in a building owned by Monday Properties. The chain’s Rosslyn location offers 303 desks in a 37,000-square-foot office space. Members can use any workstation, or can pay more to reserve one. Suites are also available for small businesses. Up to 800 members can be accommodated.
A large open area with a full kitchen, bar/café and eight beer taps can be reserved for meetings and parties, and doubles as a co-working space when not in use for events.
Members can also access 9,000 square feet of outdoor space, including a large balcony, while its upper atrium connects to Rosslyn’s Freedom Park.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, Rosslyn Business Improvement District president and CEO Mary-Claire Burick said the new co-working space, one of several open or planning to open in Arlington, will foster community.
“We love how Spaces encourages a sense of community with its design, programs and overall empowering atmosphere,” Burick said. “That’s what we’re all about here in Rosslyn, so I know you and your clients will feel right at home. I want you to know that you have the full support of the Rosslyn business community, because when you succeed, we all succeed.”
— Arlington Chamber VA (@ArlChamberVA) November 13, 2017
Photos via Mary Parker Architectural Photography, courtesy of Monday Properties. Disclosure: Monday Properties is an ARLnow advertiser.
The workplace environment is rapidly changing — moving from well-starched shirts and pencil skirts to cozy knits and all-day espresso. But it’s so much more than appearance. Employees are demanding to move away from workplace formalities, and developers must come up with creative ways to accommodate these new workspace needs.
Carr Properties’ response to these changes has been to create warm and dynamic office hubs with flexible lease terms and ample amenities that create opportunities for established companies and start-ups alike. The new roll out of WaveOffice will foster a sense of community amidst a creative layout of tenant suites.
Their first wave of these high-end, ready-to-go suites will launch in the heart of Arlington at Clarendon Square (3033 Wilson Boulevard). Once completed, WaveOffice will boast eight (8) move-in ready suites with lease terms starting at 1+ year(s) and low monthly leases that encourage the cultivation and future of how we work.
The WaveOffice (or “Wo.” for those of you who prefer nicknames) community will include: two 10-person conference rooms with 65-inch monitors and Barco Clickshare connectivity; wireless 30/30Mb internet connection provided to each suite; abundant informal gathering areas with soft seating; curated music playlist in Common Areas; two kitchens equipped with refrigerator, dishwasher, ice maker, microwave, Starbucks coffee machine, Bevi-filtered and sparking water machine; and ‘pod’ work areas.
Additionally, Wo. tenants will have access to Clarendon Square’s brand-new building amenities — a lounge area with fireplaces and comfy seating, bike lockers/bike area for those over-achieving commuters, a state-of-the-art fitness center and a café accessible from the tenant-only lounge.
Carr Properties is transforming the way people work into a tangible reality.
A new co-working space will move into Ballston next year, across the street from the under-construction Ballston Quarter mall.
TechSpace will move into the eighth floor of Two Liberty Center (4075 Wilson Blvd); its 10th location in the United States. It expects to open in June 2018. TechSpace already has similar co-working spaces in New York, California and Texas.
The new 20,000-square-foot Arlington office will include 56 private, interconnecting office suites with 198 workstations as well as open co-working desks and spaces for working. That will include fully-equipped conference rooms and lounges. Members who work in the space will also have access to building amenities like a rooftop terrace, bike storage, locker rooms and showers.
“Our new Arlington location extends TechSpace’s heritage of delivering extraordinary flexible, modern office space and technology services to all businesses as well as enterprise companies,” said Victor Memenas, Chief Executive Officer for TechSpace, in a statement. “We’re excited to bring our model of creative flexible office space and collaborative social experience combined with our exceptional customer service to the Arlington community.”
More from a TechSpace press release:
TechSpace Arlington will be prominently positioned along the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor within easy reach of Washington DC, The Pentagon, Tyson Corner, Maryland Suburbs, the Ballston-MU Metro, I-66 and Route 50. The campus is also close to retailers including Sweetgreen, Taylor Gourmet and celebrity Chef Mike Isabella’s 3 concept restaurants, Kapnos Taverna, Pepeita and Yona. This campus will join nine existing TechSpace locations in New York City, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, California and Austin and Houston, Texas.
“TechSpace Arlington will allow us to expand our outstanding customer service and highly flexible, low-commitment model to many more companies seeking to grow their businesses without the burdens of long-term leases and unnecessary capital investment,” said Memenas.
TechSpace will complete with a number of existing coworking spaces in Arlington, including the soon-to-open Spaces in Rosslyn, MakeOffices in Clarendon and WeWork in Crystal City, among others. There is demand for coworking space in Arlington: latter two offices are both at or near capacity.
Photo via Shooshan Company.
A large new coworking space will breathe new life into the former Artisphere in Rosslyn this fall.
Coworking firm Spaces expects to open its new Artisphere location in November. The location will feature 22,000 square feet of office space, an event space, an outdoor patio and a gym with showers, we’re told.
Renderings show sleekly-designed communal spaces designed for collaborative work.
“Take your creativity to new levels in uniquely inspired workspace in Rosslyn’s vibrant urban sector,” the Spaces website says. “The Artisphere’s sophisticated modern design cultivates an empowering social atmosphere that fuels innovative thinking.”
In April, Spaces opened a large coworking space in D.C.’s Uline Arena
Serene Al-Momen and her team were in a different coworking office when she heard that WeWork was opening up a space in suburban Virginia. She had already seen what WeWork has to offer, so it didn’t take much convincing for her to book a tour of the new building in Tysons.
“We felt like it was a good place for the team,” says Al-Momen. “It was just perfect.”
Al-Momen is the co-founder of Senseware, a platform that helps building owners, operators, and managers to monitor everything about their facilities, from energy use to equipment status. Nine months ago the company moved into WeWork Tysons. Al-Momen says her staff tells her they feel right at home in the space just outside of D.C.
“I like the fact that the design is nice and modern,” says Al-Momen. “It feels good to our team to come every morning to a place like this.”
WeWork is a global network of more than 150 coworking spaces that are specially designed to foster creativity and collaboration. WeWork’s mission is to encourage members to “make a life, not just a living,” and it accomplishes that through modern workspaces, opportunities to network with other professionals in their field, and connect with potential customers all over the world.
In WeWork’s 10 locations in and around D.C., there are spaces to accommodate companies of all sizes, from one-person start-ups to well-established corporations with hundreds employees. Al-Momen’s growing company is right in the middle, occupying a 38-desk office.
Each WeWork location has its own personality, drawing different types of members. WeWork K Street, located on one of the best-known thoroughfares in Northwest D.C., has a wide range of members, including lobbyists to law firms. WeWork Dupont Circle, on the other hand, has quite a few tech startups and nonprofit organizations.
A 20-minute drive from D.C., WeWork Tysons is a convenient, modern workspace in a three-story glass building. It’s a LEED-certified facility, cutting down significantly on its carbon footprint. It’s a hub for business, with the headquarters for Hilton, Booz Allen Hamilton, and others corporations nearby. The space is perfect for companies in areas like tech and contracting, as well as former employees of larger companies who have left to start their own businesses.
On top of that, WeWork Tysons is surrounded by two world-class shopping centers and dozens of dining and nightlife spots. Easy access to parking and public transportation makes it great for commuters.
Al-Momen says WeWork provides everything a business owner could possibly need, from a front-desk staff and printing services to common areas and conference rooms where they can huddle with colleagues or meet with a potential new client. And, of course, there are extras like fruit water and freshly brewed coffee always at the ready.
“It’s great,” says Al-Momen. “I can’t think of anything I could want that’s not offered.”
The preceding article was written by Reesa Hylton and sponsored by WeWork.
Arlington’s Irish Bars on St. Patrick’s Day — Today is St. Patrick’s Day and that of course means that Guinness will be flowing like water at Arlington’s half dozen Irish pubs. Among them: The Celtic House on Columbia Pike (recently lauded by Yelp and Travel + Leisure), Samuel Beckett’s in Shirlington, Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse, O’Sullivan’s in Clarendon, P. Brennan’s on Columbia Pike and Sine Irish Pub on Pentagon Row.
Arlington’s High-Earning Millennials — “Arlington has more millennials with a household income of $350,000 or more than any other jurisdiction in the country, with 8.7 percent of millennials among that wealthy cohort.” [Washington Post]
Donaldson Run Neighborhood Profiled — “Tracy and Jeremy Penfield bought their first house in Donaldson Run in Arlington County because they liked the location and the price. After living close to Metro for almost a decade, they welcomed the hilly, wooded neighborhood, which is largely car-oriented.” [Washington Post]
WeWork Creator’s Awards — WeWork, which has both co-working and co-living space at an office building in Crystal City, is giving out $20 million in grant awards to creators around the world, including here in the D.C. area. Applications to pitch an idea in D.C. are due this coming Monday. [WeWork]
Although coffee is readily available at the office when Local News Now Founder Scott Brodbeck arrives, he typically brings his own. He knows that he’ll need the earlier jump start before leaping right in at the office and turning on the police scanner while sifting through readers’ news tips.
While the business aspects of Local News Now and much of the daily writing for local news website ARLnow.com are done at the MakeOffices Clarendon home base, covering news means being ready to go out on assignment at any given time.
“For us, the location is great. Being able to walk to so many things has been huge,” says Brodbeck.
Obviously, there’s far more to Arlington than just Clarendon, but being based at such a central location in the county makes for easy transportation to story locations. Staff usually walk, run or drive to stories, although Brodbeck explains that they have not yet delved into a very Arlington-esque mode of transportation while on the clock.
“We haven’t biked to any stories yet, but it’s something we’re considering,” he says with a laugh.
On one particularly busy news day last month, Brodbeck took the short walk from his office to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly opened Hyatt Place Hotel in Courthouse. He snaps photos and listens to speeches from corporate and county leaders as dozens sip champagne to celebrate the new development at the space previously occupied by Wilson Tavern, and Kitty O’Shea’s before it.
(Brodbeck refrained from imbibing the bubbly on the job, but isn’t opposed to an after-working-hours beer from one of MakeOffices’ kegerators.)
Along the way to the event, Brodbeck does what reporters do: He keeps an eye out for other potential stories. That means taking photos of progress at two nearby construction sites, investigating a “temporarily closed” sign at Five Guys (it has since reopened) and making a note to stop at the just-opened Blumen Cafe after the ribbon-cutting event.
Business does not come to a halt at Local News Now headquarters when Brodbeck and other reporters are out in the field. Back at the office, Director of Sales and Business Engagement Meghan McMahon gears up to meet with advertising clients. For her, location is also key for conducting work tasks.
“I work with a lot of local Arlington businesses. Being able to run in and out of the office to meet people… is very convenient,” she says.
McMahon’s life recently changed with the birth of her daughter and now another important aspect comes into play daily: balancing work life with being a mom.
Returning to a coworking space after maternity leave at first seemed overwhelming for McMahon, who suddenly had to factor breastfeeding into her daily routine. “When I first came in I saw that everything’s glass, everything’s open. I wondered where my privacy would be,” she says. “I was a little stressed about how to be in a working office environment and also be able to pump and do the things I have to do to be a new mom.”
But it turns out that MakeOffices Clarendon has an amenity McMahon wasn’t aware of at first. There are small, completely private, secure rooms called “wellness centers” that she now takes advantage of twice each work day.
“That was a sense of relief for me,” she says. “I can take a few minutes out of my day and go relax in the wellness rooms… It gives me 20 minutes of alone time so that I can get ‘mom stuff’ done.”
McMahon jokes about how quickly work environment priorities can change, noting that previously she had enjoyed the happy hours in the office common areas.
“I was that person who would take advantage of the opportunity to drink and socialize, but very quickly my life has changed where I now need to do both… and to have an environment that caters to both,” she says. “Here you have the gamut… people who appreciate the social environment, and then the people who just like me… have to be a working mom.”
Simply put, making the transition from a young professional to a mom/professional in the coworking environment hasn’t involved the hassles McMahon had feared, which allows her to easily continue running Local News Now’s sales.
“Everyone has been really respectful,” she says. “I very much appreciate that sense of it.”
Brodbeck has enjoyed his share of office happy hours, but today there’s too much business to finish up to consider socializing. First, he preps for a meeting and conference call with the small business’ advisory board members and for a podcast interview with Rep. Don Beyer. Then he needs to check in again with employees at Local News Now’s other two sites: RestonNow and Borderstan.
He does, however, take advantage of the mild fall weather by moving outside to work on the third floor patio.
“You don’t have to stay chained to a desk if the weather is nice,” he explains. Plus, the view allows him to keep an eye on Clarendon as rush hour approaches, just in case any action arises that needs covering.
Again, he says, location is everything. Not to mention the overall benefits of being based in a coworking space, like not having to spend time and energy setting up a standalone location. With the frenetic pace of covering Arlington’s 26 square miles for its 230,000 residents, there’s just not enough time in the day to stress over buying office furniture or deciding who’s going to clean up the kitchen.
“Here we can just focus on what we do best — the news.”
Lubber Run Community Center Redevelopment — With voter approval of a “community infrastructure” bond that funds it, work is set to proceed on the redevelopment of the Lubber Run Community Center. Design work on the new four-story, $47 million facility will wrap up next year. Construction is expected to take place in 2018. [InsideNova]
Arlington to Keep One of the Last Kenneth Cole Stores — Kenneth Cole is closing 63 stores in the U.S. to concentrate on online and international operations. One of the fashion house’s two U.S. locations to remain open indefinitely: the store in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. [Bloomberg]
TransitScreen Expands to Coworking Spaces — TransitScreen, which was founded in Arlington in 2013, is expanding its presence from apartment buildings to coworking offices. The creator of screens that show the schedules of various transit options — including buses, trains and Uber vehicles — has announced that it has struck a deal with another Arlington-founded company: MakeOffices. [Bisnow]
AED to Host ‘Arlington Premiere’ — Arlington Economic Development is continuing its outreach to startup businesses. Next month AED will be hosting an event called “Arlington Premiere,” which is billed as “an exclusive reception welcoming new businesses to Arlington County.” The event will take place in Crystal City and will include networking opportunities for business owners. [Arlington Economic Development]
Cat Stuck in Tree — The Arlington County Fire Department was called last night for a cat that was stuck in a tree. Yes, that does actually happen. [Twitter]
The employees at Winking Fish have a knack for thinking “outside the bowl” to make you notice a business. Other people’s businesses, that is.
If you have lived in, worked in, eaten in or passed through Arlington during the past eight years, the odds are good that you’ve spotted the creative strategy and design firm’s work at least once.
Perhaps you’ve seen their branding and design work for the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, such as the lamppost banners and marketing materials for popular events like the farmer’s market, wine and craft beer festival, movie nights and jazz festival. Or maybe it’s the menus and promotional items they design for Vintage Restaurants Group — which owns Ragtime, Rhodeside Grill and William Jeffrey’s Tavern in Arlington and Dogwood Tavern in Falls Church. They also do pro bono work for the Arlington Free Clinic.
Director of strategy and engagement Maria Gallagher says working with local clients — in addition to national clients like LinkedIn and the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund — is important to the whole four-person Winking Fish team.
“We’ve got a pretty solid mix of some nationally-based clients… and a really nice mix of local Arlington businesses,” she says. “It’s nice when you’re supporting the businesses around you and then you’re seeing your work in action, too.”
The Winking Fish employees’ tasks vary a bit from day to day, but they all revolve around developing and maintaining businesses’ identities. Gallagher spends her time contemplating communications and messaging strategies while art director Parisa Damian sketches out ideas and digitally designs marketing materials.
Meanwhile, senior graphic designer Robyn Davis examines color swatches to determine which visual elements fit best with a particular client’s style. “I haven’t been able to do anything ‘pretty’ in a while because I came from an academic environment where it can be kind of boring,” Davis says. “It’s nice to be able to do different kinds of work.”
There is one thing, though, that remains the same each day: The team members get a lot of “together time.” A lot of together time.
Gallagher is married to Winking Fish principal Kieran Daly, and they’ve been friends with Damian and Davis for years. The four work together in a row of three adjacent offices and spend time together outside of work. Plus, they have lunch together nearly every day — sometimes on-site in the MakeOffices Clarendon lunchroom and sometimes at nearby restaurants. “It’s kind of nice to have that break and down time together,” Gallagher says.
Having an office in the coworking space has strengthened not only their connections with each other, but also with other businesses at MakeOffices Clarendon.
“Within two weeks [of moving here] we had a new website client,” Daly says. Fostering such connections was part of the whole plan, Gallagher explains. “That is one of the reasons we were thinking about a space like this, for the business networking it naturally promotes,” she says.
In addition to drumming up new clients, being in the coworking space creates an environment for learning different business strategies. “There’s a lot of natural opportunity to get different perspectives on running a small business. That’s a big plus,” Daly says.
One learning opportunity the Winking Fish employees especially appreciate is the once-a-month breakfast MakeOffices hosts, which includes various tenants as guest speakers.
“I went to one of those and realized I had no idea that kind of business was here in the building,” Gallagher says. “It’s nice to hear about those working models and how people are challenged and overcoming some challenges.”
For a creative firm like Winking Fish, image really is everything. The team finds that the coworking space portrays a positive, professional image to clients who visit. “It’s always fun to bring someone in here for the first time,” Gallagher says. “Everyone always comments on the energy. It’s vibrant.”
Daly explains that even though Winking Fish was in its previous building for five years, the space wasn’t very conducive to interacting with the other people there. “There really is a great energy change for us,” he says.
A standalone space also doesn’t offer the same flexibility, Daly says. “As a smaller business it’s nice to be able to have the option to add another office a couple of doors down if we need to and not be locked into a five-year term on an office space that might be too big or too small.”
And as an added bonus, “We don’t have to empty the dishwasher,” he says, laughing.
Preserving that humor and positive attitude is important for keeping the ideas and creative juices flowing. Another good motivator is being around other entrepreneurs and creative individuals.
“The opportunity to be a part of a collaborative environment and to be around… the energy of other businesses really helps to inspire a creative business like ours,” Gallagher says. “We feed off that energy and it helps us with our work.”
There are times, of course, when that energy may wane while the Winking Fish employees are working particularly long days. That can happen during the busy autumn months when the firm works on strategies for their clients’ many fall events. But Daly strives to make sure employees feel like their time is valued and that the business is not dealing with an unending string of client emergencies, even during its most hectic periods.
“As the pace of business and life gets faster and faster every day, it gets challenging to protect [that],” he says. “We work hard to create realistic timelines” and to protect workers’ personal time.
Such a philosophy contributes to making Winking Fish employees feel like they work at a family business — even though it’s not technically all family.
“Not to be cheesy,” Damian says with a smile, but “I think of all of them as family.”
The following is the third in a weekly series of articles about a “day in the life” of companies at the MakeOffices coworking space in Clarendon. The mini-series, which will run this fall, is sponsored by MakeOffices.
Move over Willy Wonka, the employees at SharpSeat are now the ones offering golden tickets. Whether for concerts or sporting events or theater performances, SharpSeat hooks up secondary market buyers with their dream tickets. The service essentially “is like StubHub, but cheaper,” say co-founder Andrew McCulloch.
He and the other two co-founders, Mike Williams and Brad Kurtzman, met while attending James Madison University and moved to Northern Virginia to take jobs after graduating. They attended a lot of ticketed events upon moving to the area and found themselves giving advice to friends looking to buy good tickets, too. But there was one major problem.
“There’s a ton of fees that we got sick of paying when shopping around on other sites,” McCulloch says. “We saw an opening in the secondary ticket market.” That’s when they decided they could do it better.
The three did a lot of research on secondary market ticket sales and ended up using their industry knowledge to start SharpSeat as a side project. “We found the average person didn’t know to look any further than Stubhub for secondary [tickets]. We saw an opportunity there to give them a better alternative,” Williams says.
They all eventually left their jobs to work full-time on SharpSeat. “We basically wanted to find a way to make tickets cheaper for the end customer,” McCulloch says. “We knew if we could find a way to keep costs down and still get access to the same tickets the big guys were getting, we could pass the savings on to customers.”
Their average day is a lot different now. The employees live in Virginia Square — two live together and the other lives down the street — so the MakeOffices Clarendon location where they work makes for an easy commute.
“One of the best parts is not having the commute around D.C.,” McCulloch says. He also found it important to stop working from home every day. “Keeping work and life separate was big for me because working in my kitchen all the time I’m [distracted]… Plus, here we’re surrounded by a bunch of other entrepreneurs that are getting things done.”
Being among other entrepreneurs has helped the employees stay motivated when doing their daily tasks, which include maintaining the website, coordinating with site developers, researching what events are coming up and fielding calls from the customer service team. And according to Williams, one of the big challenges they constantly face is marketing.
“For every business, [marketing] is probably 90 percent of the battle,” he says. “Just getting the word out there and getting people to visit the site, more than just your family and friends.”
Thanks to the business’ growth since launching two years ago — there is currently about $2 billion worth of tickets listed on the site, although it fluctuates seasonally — the team recently has been able to hire out for help with that marketing burden.
“Now we’ve hired a marketing firm to help us and we’re really looking to expand,” Kurtzman says. “This is our first business so we kind of learn as we go. We had to teach ourselves everything.”
They also outsource much of the customer service to a team in Chicago, but not all of it. The co-founders all use their venue expertise to give advice to customers who contact them looking for tips on purchasing the best tickets.
“So often people ask what’s the best value and where’s the best place to sit,” says McCulloch. “We know where you’re going to get a better value… Just little intricacies like that help out when we’re talking to clients.” Williams agrees, adding, “We have good knowledge of all the D.C. venues so we help people out” with getting the best ticket for their money.
To remain experts in the industry, the three often do offsite work — attending different types of events locally as well as traveling to other cities to check out their venues. “Obviously, it’s really fun to do that, but it is a part of what we have to do [for research],” Williams says.
Kurtzman explains that traveling to sites is how they gain knowledge of the best seats so they can offer direct customer support. “StubHub doesn’t really do that kind of thing,” he says.
When the SharpSeat employees aren’t traveling, they take advantage of the amenities in the MakeOffices Clarendon coworking space.
“Getting dedicated office space around here… is pretty unrealistic, especially for a small company like us,” says Williams. “Even for something half as nice as this, if you want a dedicated space the rents around here are so much that it just never really made sense to us. When this space opened up we couldn’t believe how cheap it was for what you get.”
One of the perks included in that price is a set of rotating taps of regionally-brewed beers. The SharpSeat co-founders say they like to head to the kitchen to try out new brews, relax and meet employees from the other businesses in the coworking space.
“Plus, I love the massage chairs,” Brad says, as the others laugh. “I usually use them once a day.”
Between the MakeOffices benefits and the satisfaction of doing a job they love, the SharpSeat team experiences something many typical employees don’t: They actually enjoy going to work.
“At my old job, I hated going to work. Now I love coming to this office,” Kurtzman says. Williams agrees, saying with a smile, “It’s kind of crazy that we’re voluntarily coming into an office after we wanted so badly to get out of one.”
The following is the second in a weekly series of articles about a “day in the life” of companies at the MakeOffices coworking space in Clarendon. The mini-series, which will run this fall, is sponsored by MakeOffices.
Just like former Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton made a career of enabling Karl “The Mailman” Malone to score, the workers behind LeagueApps spend every day making assists. They strive to set up every community team that uses their management service with a slam dunk experience.
The app-based service provides a management platform and web presence for youth and recreational sports teams. It organizes tasks such as online registrations, schedules, score databases and payment collection.
“It’s kind of like an all-in-one app for sports organizers to facilitate all the logistics of their registration and what they need to do during the season for communicating with their members,” says Steve Parker, LeagueApps co-founder and chief technology officer.
The service has about 50 employees in two offices: one in Arlington and one in New York. Although the New York contingent works out of a standalone office, Parker says the Arlington employees benefit from being in the MakeOffices Clarendon coworking space.
“One of the things that I like, and I think everyone likes, is being around these other companies. The energy of this place is great,” he says. “As a company, we see the value in having a nice working environment for people. [It’s] an intangible benefit that will pay dividends because they’ll feel more motivated and productive.”
Each day starts with the team having a stand-up meeting to go over what each person is working on, then the team disperses for their tasks. Although a lot of research, planning and strategy occurs in the Arlington office, much of what happens daily at this location is writing and testing code. Some businesses consider that an insular activity that can be performed remotely, but Parker believes staff members benefit from collaborating at the office.
“We can have in-person, live interactions, which are so valuable,” he says. “There’s a lot of questions that come up, issues that we encounter. Being able to talk through things and go to a whiteboard and discuss it live instead of just typing it… is a lot easier and more efficient.”
Having the two offices in different cities also creates a natural separation between the different tasks performed at each. Arlington houses the team behind the software platform and is considered the LeagueApps technology and product hub, whereas the New York office has a greater focus on business aspects such as sales, management, marketing, finance and customer success. “It’s a nice, clean delineation between what we do and they do,” Parker says.
The environment doesn’t just have a positive effect on employees. The conference rooms come in handy on the days when employees bring in clients for meetings. “The conference rooms and breakout rooms are key. We use those all the time,” says Parker, noting that clients are impressed when they visit the space.
So far, the business model appears to work. Parker says LeagueApps has nearly doubled in growth each year since its launch in 2011. “Just like any startup we’ve worked out a lot of kinks and have gotten to a point where we have a good model and we have a strong product-market fit. We’re continuing to refine that,” he says.
On occasion, the refining happens while interacting with employees at the other businesses in the coworking space. “Sometimes there’s technologies that we’re using that we can have conversations about and gain some quick insights,” says Parker.
One business improvement that has helped LeagueApps is choosing a handful of sports to focus on — such as lacrosse, soccer and baseball — and catering the platform to each, rather than having one generic platform that could be used for all sports. Customers get more value with the sport-specific focus because “different sports have slightly different ways of doing things,” Parker explains. “So we’ve built our platform to be customizable to all the different things that sport organizers do… our account executives and our support services are all tailored by sport.”
Although the team buckles down and works hard at the office, there’s plenty of room for being social. Such as when amidst the quiet typing and clicking, one employee nonchalantly teases another and everyone laughs. That spirit spills over from the work day into evening happy hours, sometimes on-site (MakeOffices provides a selection of locally-brewed beers on tap from four kegerators in the kitchen) and sometimes at nearby Clarendon watering holes.
“The space and location are good for team building activities,” Parker said.
One of those activities happened last week when LeagueApps team members had a unique gathering after work in one of the MakeOffices common areas. They all invited loved ones to “family night,” which involved thanking families for all their support. Hungry, another startup in the coworking space, catered the event.
“It was a way to have a team building, cultural activity as a way to say thanks,” while at the same time supporting a fellow startup, Parker says. “We’re interested in these startups because we’re a startup.”
The immediate future involves LeagueApps expanding into an area Parker in particular can appreciate because he coaches youth soccer and flag football. “We’ve focused to date more on tools for the sports organizers, but we’re also starting to focus on tools for the participants, meaning the coaches, the parents and the players,” he says. For example, one feature in the works is to incorporate into the platform a way for team sports participants to easily message and reply to each other via various communication modes.
“I love the thrill of building something, of having a lot of things going on and staying on top of those things, staying really busy,” Parker says. He and the other LeagueApps employees do indeed stay busy as they work to make the service’s platform better by adding features and improving quality.
“Our goal is to continue on this path to be the best platform for youth sports,” Parker said.
The following is the first in a weekly series of articles about a “day in the life” of companies at the MakeOffices coworking space in Clarendon. The mini-series, which will run this fall, is sponsored by MakeOffices.
“Okay, let’s do the stand-up meeting now. What’s everyone up to?” says Shy Pahlevani, co-founder of Hungry, an app-based food delivery service.
The nearly 20 employees at the startup take Pahlevani’s cue and begin with the morning routine of everyone standing up for a few minutes while announcing what they’re working on. It’s this kind of collaborative model that the business says helps it thrive.
And thrive it does. In its first month after opening to the public, Hungry sold more than 1,000 meals and has goals to further expand.
After everyone has had a turn at the morning meeting, some employees remain in Hungry’s office space at MakeOffices Clarendon to go about their tasks, such as marketing and coordinating deliveries. Others scatter to some of the areas that Hungry shares with the other coworking space occupants.
A few Hungry employees, including Director of Chef Onboarding Laura Medina, head to the kitchen to prepare for one of the chefs who’s bringing in his dish of the day. It’s the chef’s chance to show off what food he can offer, and this particular dish will be available for Hungry users to purchase for delivery the following week.
“For the rent that we spend, we’re grateful to have great looking countertops and a gourmet-looking kitchen,” says Pahlevani. “It’s very appealing when we take pictures of our food and pictures of our chefs when we use this environment here.”
The Hungry team helps the chef set up his food in various parts of the kitchen that will allow for the best photographs. Contract photographer Reema Desai takes a prepared dish over to the window that overlooks Clarendon Boulevard to get a little more natural light on the display. As she arranges the food, she turns it slightly one way, then adds a napkin, then fluffs some of the garnish. She’s trying to use the light to maximize all the available textures and colors. “[The chefs] make it easy for me. The dishes already have a lot of bright, different colors and I just try to bring that out,” she says.
Designer Collin O’Brien works with the newly snapped photos. He’s populating the app with them and ensures the presentation works across all platforms — internet, iOS and Android. Getting customers to buy the food is all about quality and presentation.
Marketing can be one of the most difficult aspects for a fledgling small business to master, but Hungry employees say the coworking environment actually makes it easier. Again, it comes back to collaboration, this time outside of the immediate Hungry team. “It’s a really great base for word of mouth,” says Pardis Saremi, Hungry’s director of public relations.
She explains that employees at other businesses in the coworking space get interested when they see the food displays and try the service themselves. That has led to many becoming customers of the delivery service and talking it up to others. “They’re telling their friends. I also had someone say they know chefs that would love to cook on our app. The connections and the word of mouth is just so, so helpful,” Saremi says. The on-site connections also have led to two other MakeOffices occupants booking Hungry’s chefs — through the app — to cater events.
She also credits the MakeOffices newsletter that goes out to all coworking office occupants with drumming up interest in Hungry’s events and promotions. About 300 people showed up at the startup’s first food event, just based on word of mouth among the coworking office occupants. That definitely wouldn’t have been the case in a standalone building, says Saremi.
“The food business is very tough. So getting people to try our dishes and recommend us to friends is really how we’re going to grow,” says Pahlevani. “Being able to start in a space that’s 40,000 square feet and has 70 plus companies is an easy way… to get some traction early, just leveraging the folks here.”
Potential customers aren’t the only thing office interactions have produced; the Hungry employees also have forged mutually beneficial business relationships. “It’s a great way to attract talent from other startups that may have complementary businesses and can support the things we’re doing,” Pahlevani says. “We’ve met photographers from other groups that are now helping us. We’ve met social media gurus that are now helping us.”
Saremi agrees, further explaining how employees constantly gain unexpected knowledge for improving the business. “I met a guy in this building who does something in physics and he was giving us ideas on things to do with our packaging to keep the food warm,” she says.
Sometimes the employees finish their daily tasks during what would be considered a traditional “quitting time.” But with all the action from the chef’s visit, this may end up being one of those times the work day stretches longer into the evening. “When you start a startup it’s a lot of hard work,” says Pahlevani. “It’s very motivating to see a lot of other people staying past 9 p.m. It encourages our employees.”
The Hungry employees are proud of the hard work they’ve put into the business and how much it already has grown, which makes the time pass quickly, says Saremi. “There’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit and everyone is so supportive of each other in this space,” she says. “You meet so many people… you see everyone growing in this space.”
Expect to hear more about Hungry in the coming months: the company just announced that it raised $2.5 million in seed funding, in a round led by New York-based Timeless Capital.