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Tampa Bay Area
Business Observer Friday, Sep. 29, 2017 4 years ago

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Industrious is redefining what it means to do business in a co-working space.
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

Co-working spaces are popping up all over the Tampa Bay region. Tampa has the Oxford Exchange, CoCreativ, Tampa Bay WaVE and CoWork Tampa in Ybor City. In downtown St. Petersburg, Station House Arcade will soon complement the popular Station House.

Freelancers, entrepreneurs and startups are the ideal customers for such venues. They don't require or aren't ready to put down roots at a permanent location and pay the attendant overhead. Co-working spaces are also handy for out-of-town business travelers who want to get out of their hotel or conference center.

But what about the established national company that wants to expand into a booming market like the Tampa Bay region, where commercial real estate vacancy rates are low and prices high? Or what about the up-and-coming local business owner who doesn't want to commit to a long-term lease for fear of outgrowing the location?

Jamie Hodari thinks his company has the answer. Hodari is the CEO of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Industrious, which is set to open a new, nearly 20,000-square-foot boutique co-working space in December in Tampa. A former lawyer and journalist, Hodari, 35, has landed bold-face brands like Lyft, Pandora, GM, Pinterest and Pfizer at other Industrious locations nationwide, and he's looking to make a splash — and a disruption — in Tampa.

“Real estate has always been an industry focused on supply, not demand,” he says. “It's always been an industry that said, 'This is what I, the landlord, am willing to give you,' rather than saying, 'What do you, the customer, want? What could we do that would be game-changing for you and your business?'

“And Industrious is one of a small number of companies that is asking that question, that's saying, 'What would it mean to do something transformative and very customer-focused in the workplace world, a world that has traditionally not thought that way?'”

In a news release announcing the company's newest location, which will be located at 401 E. Jackson St., Industrious says it seeks “experienced entrepreneurs and savvy small businesses” that aren't looking for an office environment populated with dogs, Ping-Pong tables, anonymous laptop jockeys and other trappings of the co-working world, as it's presently conceived.

“The average age of a small business at Industrious is 12.7 years,” says Hodari. “So, we have startups, but that's not the majority of who our customer base is. The average age at Industrious is almost 38, which is pretty different than most co-working companies.”

Hodari believes Industrious will be able to replicate its success in Tampa because it offers the best of both worlds — high-quality, well-appointed downtown office space without a major commitment.

“There has got to be room for an inspiring, engaging workplace that's built on the back of a flexible arrangement — that's a more honest and accurate reflection of what most businesses nowadays need,” he says. “Commercial real estate is built on 10- to 15-year leases. Tell me one Tampa business you know that knows what its head count is going be in 2027. They don't exist.”

In Tampa, Industrious plans to offer 60 offices; two executive suites with private offices and meeting rooms; three conference rooms; two “huddle rooms” for quick, ad-hoc meetings; a wellness facility; a focus room; and six phone rooms. Monthly fees range from $425 to $2,900, depending on what kind of space members require.

“At Industrious,” Hodari says, “you should love coming to work every day, feel cozy and welcomed, and at the same time your clients should feel wowed and blown away.”

Hodari says Industrious wants to help clients fulfill those aspirations by working to dispel the notion that co-working environments are a novelty best suited for a specific niche of workers and companies, such as Silicon Valley types.

“A true outsourced workplace platform, which is what Industrious is, is not a niche product,” he says. “Tampa has a tech scene, but it's not as big as the tech scene in Austin or Seattle. But Tampa does have an extremely vibrant economy with a really wide variety of industries and a lot of growing businesses in the professional services world, in the marketing world, etc. And those people need a home. They need a great place to work that they're going to love calling home, just as much as Facebook employees need that.”

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