As the contract and freelance workforce grows, so does the need for those people to find a space where they can collaborate and be productive.
On the flip side, the economy has created plenty of empty office space square footage.
Start-up company LiquidSpace serves both sides of that marketplace by matching people who want to co-work in a temporary location with available office space, while using a LiquidSpace iPhone or Android app.
“We want to be able to connect people who live a mobile work lifestyle with a better place to work,” said Scott Colestock, Anoka-based vice president of engineering for LiquidSpace.
Getting the job done at a coffee shop does not work for everyone, said Colestock. As companies continue to adapt and create work from home policies, many mobile workers are realizing they need socialization and inspiration that comes from having coworkers, he said.
And sometimes there is a need for quiet that a coffee shop can’t provide.
Minnesota entrepreneur Doug Marinaro is co-founder president and chief operating officer of LiquidSpace, formed in 2010. Marinaro lives in the western suburbs of Twin Cities, while co-founder and CEO Mark Gilbreath lives in Idaho.
The company’s headquarters are in Palo Alto, Calif., but also has Minnesota offices right in Anoka.
“The company was formed to solve this problem for mobile professionals,” said Colestock.
The owners of work spaces set the rental prices and LiquidSpace takes commission.
In Minnesota, the rise of co-working has been highlighted by trendy temporary office spaces like CoCo in Minneapolis and St. Paul, or Joule – all available for booking through LiquidSpace. A quick search comes up with 25 different spaces throughout the Twin Cities.
But Colestock sees an opportunity for expansion in the north metro. In his offices dubbed “AnoCo” in an historic building on First Avenue in downtown Anoka, there is a conference room available for $10 an hour and desk workspace for $15 for a half or $25 for a full day.
It both a quiet and inspiring environment, rich with charm and a stone’s throw from several restaurants and shops.
Before coming to Liquidspace, founded in 2010, Colestock spent 10 years working as a contract software engineer.
“So I lived this problem and spent a lot of time trying to work in a lot of different places,” said Colestock.
He said most co-working office spaces are loaded with entrepreneurs who are working on start-ups or new ventures.
Having similarly minded people nearby amplifies networking opportunities.
“It is a neat mix of people who have a great entrepreneurial spirit,” said Colestock.
LiquidSpace also embraces that mobile work lifestyle it supports, with many employees dividing their time between Minnesota and California.
And Colestock spends much of his time working with the development team, most of whom are located in the Eastern European country of Belarus.
They take advantage of a window of overlapping time zones and keep in contact through Skype, said Colestock – a work format many businesses are employing.
According to the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal, LiquidSpace has listings around the country, but the majority of its business is done in the Silicon Valley where it helps manage 400 workspaces being rented each month.
Colestock would like to see cities and counties get in on the platform. Municipalities or local libraries could make their meeting spaces available on LiquidSpace, said Colestock.
In California, the city of Palo Alto has done this by listing space available in its city hall and local libraries.
“I think there’s a lot of working or meeting space out there, especially free space, that citizens don’t necessarily know about,” said Colestock.
For more information on LiquidSpace visit www.liquidspace.com or to learn more specifically on the Anoka space, visit AnoCo.org.
Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]