A New Nexus for Nomadic Entrepreneurs at the Cambridge Innovation Center

5/6/09Follow @wroush

As any freelancer or self-employed person will tell you, working alone can be isolating—but the alternative, hanging out at Starbucks all day, can drain your wallet and lead to overcaffeination. Fortunately, if you’re the type who needs a little company, collaboration, and commotion to get real work done, there are a few new places to turn, thanks to a burgeoningco-working” movement. In spaces like the Hat Factory in San Francisco and Beta House in Cambridge’s Central Square, nomadic workers—mostly young Internet entrepreneurs, to date—typically claim a bit of desk territory, coming and going as their own schedules dictate, freely seeking assistance, advice, or just camaraderie from the people around them.

Now there’s a new co-working space for Boston-area entrepreneurs, on the tenth floor of the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) at One Broadway in Cambridge. It’s called the Cambridge Coworking Center (C3), and it opened for business yesterday.

The Cambridge Coworking CenterTim Rowe, founder and president of the CIC (and an Xconomist), says the co-working space is part of the company’s ongoing experiment with providing different types of work experiences for today’s smaller, more untethered startups. In contrast to the apartment-sized “bays” occupied by most CIC tenants, and the phone-booth-sized “Uno” units that the CIC opened last year, C3 is designed to foster informal interaction—and at an economical price of $250 per month (Beta House charges $225 to $375).

“CIC has been around for almost 10 years, but we have not done a good enough job for the very earliest stage entrepreneurs,” Rowe told me. “With the launch of the Cambridge Coworking Center, we’re excited to truly be able to offer a solution that works for anyone’s budget.”

The Cambridge Coworking CenterThe atmosphere at C3 is a bit more corporate than Beta House—after all, One Broadway is a Brutalist concrete office building built in 1970 by Badger Engineering (now part of Raytheon), and Beta House is a comfy brownstone in a residential neighborhood. But as with the rest of the CIC, C3′s planners have done a lot of retrofitting to make the space livable, bringing in large tables, soft couches, and plants. There’s a high-speed Wi-Fi network to keep everyone connected, and the amenities include private conference rooms, background music, unlimited coffee and spring water, and Ikea-style cubby bins for storing personal items.

Rowe says CIC is keeping the rent at C3 low by deliberately omitting services like land-line phones, wired Ethernet connections, mail delivery, and individual desks or cubicles (there are large tables with lots of chairs instead). In the age of cell phones, wireless laptops, and Skype, entrepreneurs don’t need wired connections, Rowe says, and if they need a place to pick up mail, there’s … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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