Berkeley startups and home-based workers will have a new place to collaborate when NextSpace Berkeley opens June 3 as a communal office space Downtown.
Advertising large, open office spaces, trendy decorations and a prime location, NextSpace Berkeley hopes to be the new hub for creative collaboration and innovation in Berkeley. The space, located on the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, will be able to house more than 200 members in an area that was once home to a bank.
NextSpace, which was founded in 2008, is a company that brings together freelancers, telecommuters and startups by providing professional workspaces for those who need them. The goal is to stimulate innovation through the exchange of ideas in casual, communal office settings.
“We don’t simply provide office space to our members,” said Erin Griffin, community curator of NextSpace Berkeley. “We create a community.”
To build community and facilitate networking, NextSpace organizes weekly lunches, Friday happy hours and occasional game nights for its users. The company also encourages its members to participate in local events together and get involved in their own communities.
Each NextSpace location includes an open workspace, private office spaces, conference rooms, basic office supplies and free coffee and tea. Some highlights of NextSpace Berkeley will be its large skylit cafe area, in which members will be able to work with one another and network, and its unique conference room, which is set up in what used to be a bank vault.
There are currently NextSpace locations in Santa Cruz, Culver City, San Francisco, San Jose and Venice Beach.
“(NextSpace drives) down the cost and risk associated with starting and growing a small business,” said Richard Noroski, a UC Berkeley alumnus who has used NextSpace in Culver City to start his company, Noroski Engineering. “I would say the biggest impact on me personally and my business has been getting to meet new people and see inside their minds and their businesses.”
The opening of a NextSpace location in Berkeley follows several other efforts to encourage the development of startups in the area. There are currently seven other similar co-working spaces that exist in Berkeley.
“Co-working spaces such as NextSpace … will help stem the innovation drain that has been occurring for years due to Cal and Berkeley lab spinouts moving to the South Bay and Peninsula,” said Mike Cohen, co-founder of the Berkeley Startup Cluster, an organization that promotes networking between startups in the area.
NextSpace Berkeley also hopes to attract people with its location in the Wells Fargo building Downtown, just a few blocks away from campus.
“Being located near Cal will play an interesting role,” Griffin said. “None of our other spaces are so closely influenced by a university, so I think we will see a lot of young startup creativity and maybe some academics and grad students that the other spaces do not experience as often.”