Think of any promising tech startup in the D.C. area, said UberOffices founder Raymond Rahbar. “There’s a good chance they’re in one of our offices.”
One of the first in the area, his network of coworking spaces — now more than 100,000 square feet splayed out in four locations — is rapidly expanding across the region. Rahbar is about to open three additional spaces in Tysons, Logan Circle and Clarendon.
Since July 2012, when he opened the first UberOffice space in Arlington, Rahbar has seen a lot of startups come and go, sometimes with IPOs. “When you’re watching something it tends to move slow,” he said.
But now, Rahbar says, the area is more fertile for entrepreneurs. New accelerators and seed-stage funds have popped up in the span of a few years, including NextGen Angels, which he helped found in 2012.
With its sage green and neutral orange theme, the UberOffices have a more mature feel than some other D.C.-centric spaces. And that’s maybe because around here, coworking spaces are not only the province of the youthful startup scene.
Because of D.C.’s strict height requirements, companies have to expand horizontally rather than vertically. Meanwhile, “lobbyists and law firms gobble up so much real estate,” while the relative youth of the city’s infrastructure also contributes to driving up the rent.
That’s why in his Rosslyn, Tysons and Bethesda offices, the companies are “a little bit older,” says Rahbar. “There’s more young talent in the city,” he added. The two-floor Dupont Circle space — which offers a foosball table, video games and several massage chairs — projects “a different energy level.”
Rahbar’s model is still very much tailored for startups. All levels of membership, including private office spaces, are rented on a month-to-month basis. Besides the added flexibility, it creates a better atmosphere when members are “free to leave,” says Rahbar.
Rahbar understands his members’ needs, because he is an entrepreneur himself. “I’ve never had a real job,” he said.
But he has always had a keen eye for developments in real estate market data. Growing up in Loudoun County, he’d noticed that small office buildings were sprouting everywhere. So at age 15, he and “a few buddies” started a landscaping company.