“Entrepreneurs know they need to connect with others to develop and grow their business,” Pallé said. “Trying to meet people from your home office just doesn’t work. Having space away from the distractions will help, but getting your own office is time consuming and expensive. Making a commitment to an inflexible lease is not attractive for small businesses. An inexpensive, non-commit turnkey desk or private office can make getting out of the home office more accessible to a young company.”
With the software programmed, Chris Dudick, owner and founder of tech startup Small Factory Productions, steps inside the virtual reality world he’s created, and hoping to sell.
“It’s very difficult to just take a lease on for a year or two and find something that’s not too expensive, especially around this area,” he said.
Co-working startups are finding success in suburban New Jersey. Startup Vi Coworking opened a location in Fort Monmouth this June, while Hugo Neu launched a 5K SF Kearny Point last summer, the Wall Street Journal reports. Hugo Neu Director of Leasing Nick Shears told the WSJ leasing in suburbia is stronger than he thought, and said many tenants who were looking for traditional office space opted for co-working because they were not ready to sign a long lease.
“We look at Vi and Design Lab as incubators and feeders bringing vitality and life on an evolving and continuing basis to Bell Works, so the value to us goes beyond the actual cost per square foot and income,” Somerset president Ralph Zucker said. “We look at those dollars also as marketing dollars creating a building amenity.” [WSJ]
While there is some skepticism that the co-working trend will last, some landlords are embracing it as a way to give life to their buildings and help incubate firms that eventually will lease office space at other of their properties. That was part of Vi Coworking's pitch to Somerset Development LLC, the company behind the Bell Works redevelopment, said Chris Pallé, Vi's co-founder.
“We’re seeing a trend of technologists and entrepreneurs rising up in Monmouth County,” Pallé said. “By creating an environment that’s conducive to collaboration, that talent is multiplied. The more people come together, the more innovation and ideas we can create. It’s the future of work.”
The Jersey Shore / Fort Monmouth area continues to attract tech startups and businesses.
On Thursday, January 26, Vi Collaboration Hubs, the coworking venue that started at Bell Works (Holmdel) announced that it will open an additional space at TetherView’s Russel Hall, in Oceanport. TetherView is the private cloud company that bought and renovated the building, which is the former garrison headquarters at Fort Monmouth.
TetherView, a company that has set up shop at Fort Monmouth in Oceanport, plans to open part of its office to co-working in a bid to foster more high-tech business at the shuttered Army post.
Vi Collaboration Hubs, which will manage the co-working space, said it will take about 5,000 square feet on the first floor of Russel Hall, hoping that its leap of faith will pay similar dividends to its office at Bell Works in Holmdel.
It is one of several new tenants moving to Bell Works, the 2-million-square-foot building that is being transformed by Somerset Development. Once used by AT&T's Bell Labs during its monopoly days to do research and development – and win eight Nobel Prizes – the historic building is being turned into one that can house a new generation of cutting-edge companies.
Observers say there is a lot at stake in the project's success. "I think Bell Works is really important on the New Jersey stage and even the national stage," said Brian Smiga, founder of Tedx Navesink and a venture capital investor with Alpha Venture Partners. He is on Vydia's advisory board.
Located in Holmdel's Bell Works building, Vi Coworking gives members a chance to spend time in one of New Jersey's technological treasures. The massive Bell Works, which contains 1.6 million square feet of rentable space, used to be a facility for Bell Labs. Now it serves as a place for entrepreneurs to congregate.