- July 2, 2011
First there was office space. Then, there was co-work space. Now, there's a hybrid that combines some of both in an industrial zone.
Don't try to peg Endeavor Innovative Workspaces in Fort Myers. Entrepreneurs Bjorn and Kristin Rosinus recently opened the office space off Alico Road in Fort Myers, traditionally a heavy industrial area where cement and dump trucks hog the east-west artery between Interstate 75 and U.S. 41.
Like co-work space, Endeavor charges as little as $34 a month for a seat in a wide-open space. But the co-work open space makes up just 3,500 of the building's 15,000 square feet. That's because there are 26 offices that you can rent by the month from $579 to $679, depending on the size, and cubicles from $439 a month.
Turns out people still like private offices. For many people, open-floor plans with no privacy are still somewhat bohemian. Co-work space was popularized in the tech world as freelance software developers collaborated with each other in cheap dilapidated warehouses. They were often messy places from late-night work fueled by pizza and super-caffeinated drinks.
The truth is that Fort Myers isn't a technology hub. “This building is too big to be completely open,” says Bjorn Rosinus, the CEO, who originally built the building that once housed a part of Algenol, a company that produces fuel from algae.
Although there's a game room and a kitchen and the space is open 24 hours a day, Endeavor doesn't have a dorm-room atmosphere. “We want to remain professional,” Rosinus says. “Everything is not crammed together, you're not right on top of each other.”
A new, more sophisticated co-work space has evolved in recent years to cater to professionals such as attorneys, marketing and sales executives who are independent but don't want to work from home. In Naples, for example, Venture X offers co-work space in the upscale Mercato shopping center staffed with people who handle mail and make sure the place is tidy.
Unlike Venture X, Endeavor is located in an industrial area next to Algenol. But Rosinus is quick to note that Alico Road is centrally located between Naples and Fort Myers and the Gulf Coast Town Center mall is a short drive away. “It's one of the roads that hasn't failed,” Rosinus notes.
In addition, Endeavor doesn't curate the space to balance out industries. If 10 attorneys decide to call it home, so be it. “I don't want to limit anyone,” says Rosinus.
Some co-work spaces such as the Naples Accelerator and The Rocket Lounge in Fort Myers are business incubators for startups. “I don't want to call it an incubator,” Rosinus says. “It's collaboration.”
To encourage members to interact, Rosinus says Endeavor will host business-related events. There's a white board in the lobby where members can alert each other where they're going to lunch or happy hour.
Although Rosinus recently opened Endeavor, he says customers have included restaurateurs from the nearby Gulf Coast Town Center who need office space. He noted that a notice on Craigslist has been the most effective form of advertising so far.
“This concept is a little bit of a learning curve,” says Rosinus, who expects to fill at least half the building this year. “I think we're on the right track.”
Follow Jean Gruss on Twitter @JeanGruss