• Heather Fish

Perception Vs Reality: Coworking in Meadville

As 2019 is upon us and Foundry CoWork is approaching it’s 1 Year Anniversary, it’s important to look back to where we started and where we are now. It has been interesting to see how my expectations of starting a coworking space in Meadville, PA has held up to the reality. The easiest way I found to outline these perceptions was through this meme I made:

What the World Thinks Coworking is:

For any business, it’s hard not to compare yourself with the giant corporations. The Walmart & McDonalds of the coworking world is WeWork. WeWork is a $20 billion dollar American company that offers both physical & virtual spaces for small businesses, start-up, techies, remote & independent workers. The company’s 100,000+ members have access to health insurance, an internal social network, social events and workshops, and an annual summer retreat. WeWork has more than 5,000 employees in over 280 locations, spread across 77 cities in 23 countries. They’ve recently expanded their reach by including WeLive (shared living spaces), luxury gyms, and private preschools. Now you may think, ‘those are some big shoes to fill’! However, for many coworking communities across the globe, WeWork is not the goal. We’re in it for the community.

What the Town Thinks Coworking is:

Some of the first coworking spaces opened up in 2010, which stills makes the concept relatively new, but not completely unheard of. Something that a lot of small spaces are tasked with is educating their wider community on what coworking is (for starters - as of 2018, ‘coworking’ is a now word! No hyphen!). There are no cubicles. You can’t share a membership because a community is made up of individuals. Yes, printing & parking are free. It’s self-directed. There’s lots of trust involved. Every space has its own flavor, however the Core Coworking Values are: Collaboration, Sustainability, Accessibility, Community, Openness.

What my Dad Thinks Coworking is:

He has heard WeWork talked about on Mad Money, but he also keeps offering me an old glass display case “for my business”... so I can only assume that he thinks I have a store of some kind…? Perhaps that’s a different issue to be investigated…!

What my Friends Think Coworking is:

To them, I’m a hero for following through with this crazy dream of mine.They continue to be my best advocates & I am so thankful for that.

What I Think Coworking is:

Constantly giving my members sugar & beer to keep them happy?

What Coworking Actually is:

It’s bringing people together. At the end of the day, it’s not about the space. It’s about the connections. Unfortunately, as an introvert, this is also the most difficult part! But I love it. I opened Foundry CoWork in Meadville because I saw & heard countless times that we need it. People who have lived here all their life but are looking for a place grow their network. People who were transplanted into Meadville as a remote worker that need a place to focus away from the kids or just to get out of the house. For people who want a place to meet with clients or thier board. For people who just want to come play games, learn something new, or create things with other people. Specially, at the Foundry right now, we have around 30 members ranging from your ‘classic’ remote graphic & web designers, writers, and marketers. Independent/freelancers, people who work for a small business, or work for large or small nonprofits. Some have home offices, others have a traditional office, for some the Foundry is their only workspace.

This space is creating its own identity with the people who walk through the doors. And it is a global community. With a membership at Foundry CoWork, you can also work at hundreds of other coworking spaces around the world. There are 110 listed in North America alone on http://coworking.com/visa/, including my friends at Radius CoWork in Erie, PA. Check them out! Check us out! Let me know if you need anything and thanks for reading!

#ExperienceMeadville #FoundryCoworkMeadville #CoworkingDay #RemoteWorkers #CoWorking #SmallBusiness #Freelancers #Community

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