Nomadic workers have a new place to meet, plug in a laptop and make a cell phone call in San Antonio.
C4 Workspace, a co-working site, opened this month at 108 King William. It caters to consultants, freelancers, home-based business owners and others in search of a conference room, desk, electricity and a place to network with others.
“We're trying to create a big office environment for single workers,” said Todd O'Neill, who launched C4 Workspace along with his wife, Debbie Curtis, and business partner, Perla Escobar, on June 5.
Throughout San Antonio, ad hoc co-work spaces have sprouted up in coffee shops, bookstores, libraries and restaurants, but this is one of the city's first dedicated business spaces designed for freelancers or telecommuters.
More than a year ago, O'Neill, who runs his own consulting business, Doing Media, started weekly co-working sessions on Tuesdays at La Taza Coffeehouse. He did it to test if people wanted a full-time co-working site. When he discovered the need existed, he began to hunt for permanent co-working office space.
O'Neill is at the forefront of a co-working movement. Today, more than 150 co-working sites exist in the United States and dozens more have taken root in foreign countries such as Mexico, Australia, Saudi Arabia, India and China, according to a Wiki Web site on co-working.
“Whether you're a creative class person or a social media maven, you can benefit from being in a dedicated co-working environment,” O'Neill said.
Andrew Guajardo, an intern-architect with G.A. Architect, designed the interior of the 3,100-square-foot building. It features open space with a row of offices on one side, a bar and kitchen in the back and a couple of private telephone booths. With gray concrete floors, white walls, blue walls and a ceiling painted black with exposed silver air ducts, the space feels airy and is a bit noisy. Ikea desks, chairs and sofa serve as the office décor, and two metal sculptures by San Antonio artist Troy Waddell give it a hip, modern look.
“I love the colors. It's calming, relaxing and soothing,” said Colleen Pence, who runs Social Butterfly, a social media consulting company. “It strikes the right emotional chord.”
Normally, it costs $150,000 to design a co-working space, but C4 did it for a fraction of that cost by relying on friends and the founders to do most of the project themselves, Guajardo said. He now rents a desk full time at the center. He's got his MacBook Pro, wireless mouse and iPhone.
“That's all I need. I can work from anywhere,” Guajardo said. “The attraction here is being around the other creative people.”
Most of the time, Pence works out of her house on the North Side, but she's trying out the C4 Workspace this week. She thinks it might make a good place to meet with clients.
“Before this, I was meeting in coffeehouses and restaurants,” she said.
C4 — which stands for collaboration, cooperation, community and co-working — offers daily desk rental for $20, and part-time desks for $150 and full-time desks $280 to $550 monthly. C4 also rents out its conference room and community space for meetings, workshops, film screenings, art displays and other events. It does supply a fax machine, printer and copier, but requires co-workers to bring their own computers, cell phones and other equipment.
Already, C4 has 35 members who pay between $25 and $50 annually to belong to the business. The first membership meeting is tonight.
If the co-working business takes off at the King William site, O'Neill would like to replicate it in other parts of the city.
“This is the second wave of co-working,” O'Neill said. “We created this space as a means of economic development.”