Hi Elizabeth, there was a similar discussion in the GCUC group on FB today - I’m pasting my reply:
It sounds like you’re looking for data vs. examples of spaces. The current GWA Industry Financial survey (see separate post on the survey), includes a question that asks if your space is “niche” or “generic.” We will cut this data by revenue and profit per square foot and do some other number crunching to see if this seems to have an impact. My hope is that we have a large enough sample size to make this determination. Please encourage folks to fill out the survey!
My personal opinion (not fact :-)) is that as spaces proliferate, it will be harder to stand out and having a story and a focus will help to attract members. I do not think just being a niche space is the answer though - you have to have all of the other pieces right as well - the right product/service mix, the right location, the right staff, etc. But at some point, people will be trying to make sense of the noise and a niche positioning will help.
I caution you to do ALL the homework on the childcare topic - that is a really tough nut to crack in terms of regulations. A lot of spaces have tried to do this and have not been successful because of the regulations.
And make sure the coworking model works outside of it being focused on a specific audience. There’s a new space just announced in San Francisco for women…it’s 4,000 square feet and can hold 50 members at any given time. In my experience, a 4,000 square foot space is about the smallest you can go and still pay for someone to manage it…and it’s not big enough to pay your rent if you manage it without another job :-). And if you don’t have private offices (the SF space is in a house so I’m guessing it does not), you’re taking a pretty big bet on recruiting all open space members. Make sure you do some really good market research on what your members need in terms of meeting room/phone booth space and make sure they can actually do their work in the space. No matter how much they want to be a part of a tribe, they need to be able to run their business in the space you provide.
On Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 1:18:31 PM UTC-7, Elizabeth Jackson wrote:
I started the ground work to introduce a women-focused coworking space in Prince George’s County in Maryland; a suburb of Washington, DC. I have pitched the coworking space to investors and county development officials as I have gone far enough with my own funding and crowdfunding campaigns and have secured a two-story building, insurance, and furniture on my own :-). Although I have done this on my own; I have encountered a lot of hesitation about this concept due to the fact that it is a women-centric space. The goal is not to exclude men because we need men too, but to focus on the unique needs of women led business (we will offer childcare on the 1st floor and video/podcasting suites just to name a few non-traditional amenities). I am often told to be “broader” but, I have done my research and women entrepreneurs in this county lead the charge in opening new businesses. Also, there are so many other coworking spaces that skew towards male founders in the DC metro area and women often share that these spaces really don’t fit their needs, and a little balance would be awesome. So far I have over 300 (more joining each day) women interested in joining a coworking space for women (we will open up membership pre-sales in July) from my meetup group and I intend to have building renovations completed on the building by Fall of 2017. My intuition is telling me YES!!! but, I would like to have data to validate it can be successful to those who don’t believe that a women-led and focused coworking space can be successful.
Here are some examples of successful coworking spaces for women that are similar to the one I am opening:
Open For Business
Behind the Grind
Here are the questions I have for the group:
Are there any metrics available that can show whether this model is successful or not?
What are some of the biggest challenges to that you had to overcome?
(Please excuse any typos)