Devnuts: young collaboration and incubation workspace in Northern Liberties - Philly


Sep. 29, 2010 11:30 am

Devnuts: young collaboration and incubation workspace in Northern Liberties

Announced with a sleek new website launch yesterday, the Devnuts crew is abutting its form of co-working with a heavier focus on incubation and selling its pooled talent.

The two dozen 20-somethings behind Devnuts are organizing.

The Northern Liberties collaborative workspace is aiming at being seen as a more comprehensive collection of professionals.

Announced with a sleek new website launch yesterday, the Devnuts crew is abutting its form of co-working with a heavier focus on incubation and selling its pooled talent.

“Devnuts does three things,” says John Fazio, one of the co-founders. “First, it’s a co-working space that you can apply for a desk space to rent. Second, it’s an incubator [for young startups]. Third, because we’ve built a talent pool around us, we’re selling development talent.”

With a contractor circle of 22, including seven employees and at least that many interns, in addition to others on the periphery, relationships with Drexel University and the Science Leadership Academy to bring in new startups to house and testimonials for building homepages for the Roots and TEDxPhilly to name just two , the Devnuts crew seems to be doing well with all three.

What Devnuts means…

In case you are wondering, yes, the Devnuts crew gets asked a lot what the name means.

And, yes, it’s what you probably can guess.

“[Chris and I] buy tons of domains, all the time,” says John Fazio. “When we came up with the idea [in 2007], we went through our list of, let’s say, 500-plus domains and one was”

It was among the shorter, catchier domains they had, but the pair had actually already made a logo for what they had thought would be a tech support company.

“We were lazy,” Fazio says now, with the hint of a smile, “so we took it and ran with it.”

“Hey, ‘we’re nuts about development.”

For now, the management decisions are being made by the kids, though they’re smart enough to get their advice wherever they can find it.

Former Drexel classmates Chris Alfano and John Fazio launched Devnuts in spring 2007 to marry their respective freelance web development work. (Matt Monihan, another former Drexel student, joined on as a third partner last month.) A year and a half later, the pair and their com-padres opened a 3,000 square-foot shared work environment at Third and Poplar streets, formerly a glass-blowing factory.


That’s quite a journey for a pack of 20-somethings. from first conceiving their notion of co-working in the concept’s infancy three years ago at 3 a.m. in Alfano’s living room-turned office in Bensalem.

Now, they’re trying to differentiate themselves into an increasingly more formal collaboration.

So where, say, famed Old City co-working space Independents Hall is focused more on having free and open workspace, which often results in collaboration, Devnuts is, as Fazio puts it, “a bit more selective… [with] an application and interview process” for their team, who, incidentally, largely work together on a hacked-up version of Google Wave.

Incubation will be an increasing part of that plan.

For the past three Drexel terms, successful contestants in the LeBow College of Business’s popular business plan competition have visited Devnuts management to pitch their idea. For either stake out right payment, those startups or others can get mentorship, space, collaboration and a community.

“Well, Zach Kozac is our oldest employee or contractor — he’s 25,” Fazio says. “As far as mentors, the lawyers, accountants and business consultants are mostly old heads.”

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