NextSpace Shows a New Way to Work

10/27/10

In 2009, in the depth of the recession, Rebecca Brian and Jamie Capozzi both found themselves working at home, trying to keep their marketing and branding agencies afloat. They felt isolated and distracted, and as they looked around, they saw that they weren’t the only ones.

“It was the year of the contractor,” says Capozzi, who calls working in 2009 the hardest experience of his life. “The workplace was changing.”

So they decided to open a workspace that they and other design professionals they knew could share, and as they researched the idea—looking at similar spaces throughout the Bay Area—they decided they had a business.

In the end, they persuaded Jeremy Neuner, the former economic development manager for the city of Santa Cruz, to let them open a San Francisco branch of NextSpace, a “co-working” space that Neuner had co-founded in downtown Santa Cruz in June 2008.

“We realized we had a lot talent here in Santa Cruz, but it was either exported over the hill every day (to Silicon Valley) or not visible,” Neuner says. “I knew a lot of small 1- and 2-person companies, and I thought we could push that talent together in one spot and see what would happen.”

NextSpace is not an incubator, its founders say—it’s a landing spot for people who are working as contractors or starting or researching their own businesses and need office space, a mailbox, business advice, or simply companionship, especially if they have trouble getting motivated enough to get out of their pajamas during the day.

“Somebody might be working in their living room, with all the distractions of home, and never turn that switch to go somewhere and get in work mode,” Capozzi says.

Adds Brian, “If you’re willing to spend any money at all on your business, you’re really passionate and want to make it work.”

NextSpace makes money through various levels of memberships—which range from virtual access to its newsletter to a day pass to monthly use of the shared space in the middle of the room to more private office space—and events, like the magazine hack-a-thon that San Francisco State journalism students are planning in San Francisco this weekend.

So far, the NextSpace community has about 260 members, with 80 percent of its businesses focusing on technology. But there are other types of companies too.

There’s corporate treasure hunter Bill Neville, who looks for … Next Page »

Deborah Gage is a technology writer based in the Bay Area. Follow @

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