Coworking / Startups

Why WeWork is offering three months of free office space in Brooklyn Heights

It's the first time the coworking giant has offered a special deal for startups like this, and it's certainly not a bad way to beat out the fierce Brooklyn coworking competition.

WeWork is using its newest Brooklyn location — Brooklyn Heights — to test out a program to support entrepreneurs.
It’s trying to capitalize on the energy around the Brooklyn startup scene.
“Now more than ever, Brooklyn is the center of creativity, innovation, and community,” WeWork’s website reads. “We are fueling the entrepreneurial fire we feel in the borough by launching our first ever program to support creators who choose to hone their craft in our Brooklyn spaces.”
The coworking giant is offering this deal for startups that are chosen for the program: three months of free private office space. Private offices start at $710/month for one person offices and go up to nearly $6,000/month for a nine-person office. (Bigger offices are also available.) Here’s how to apply for the program.
Does the initiative suggest that WeWork is having problems filling this location? Spokesman Nate Howell said he couldn’t share fill-rates because they weren’t standardized across each location but that WeWork was “quite happy with the way its occupancy has been growing consistently on a monthly basis.”
“We expect to see demand continue to increase as we become more immersed in Brooklyn’s creative community,” he wrote in an email.
Despite WeWork’s serious venture-backing, this initiative shows that it’s also dreaming up ways to beat out out the Brooklyn coworking competition.
The chosen companies will have access to all member benefits, including discounted business services and entry into events at all WeWork locations, including those outside of New York City. Some participants may also be eligible for Labs, WeWork’s tech-focused program, which matches companies with industry experts and investors. After the three-month period, the companies will receive discounted rates on WeWork membership, though for how long has yet to be determined, said WeWork Brooklyn Heights community manager Sam Robinson.
Other than that, the new promotion is rather freeform. The program is open to businesses of all sizes — even solo entrepreneurs — and in all industries. There’s not a set cap on how many companies WeWork will accept into the new program. The companies will be selected based upon how well they might benefit from WeWork’s resources, as well as how they would complement the current mix of members in the Brooklyn Heights location.
In fact, there aren’t many limiting criteria in the application at all, which is by design, Robinson said.
“So much of WeWork is the inclusive vibe,” he said. “We didn’t want to right off the bat be restrictive.”
(Of course, inclusivity also means more types of customers and higher demand.)
If the Brooklyn Heights initiative proves successful, it may be rolled out to other WeWork locations, he says.
Why pilot in Brooklyn Heights? Robinson says it’s because of the location’s newness, plus its proximity to transportation. Plus, WeWork cofounder Miguel McKelvey, said he hoped WeWork could help build up the startup scene in Brooklyn Heights, since it’s not as much of a hub as Dumbo and Williamsburg, where WeWork also has locations.

A private office in WeWork's Brooklyn Heights location.

A private office in WeWork’s Brooklyn Heights location. (Courtesy photo)

The initiative is yet more evidence of WeWork’s intensified focus on Brooklyn, which includes its recently commenced Navy Yard development. Downtown Brooklyn holds particular potential as a startup hub, said Robinson, because of its proximity to public transportation.
“We’ve been pulling members who were considering lower Manhattan,” he said.
McKelvey expressed similar thoughts when we caught up him earlier this month.
“In Manhattan, I feel there are certain zones that are industry-specific,” he said. “Brooklyn to me feels more broadly diverse. I think that would be a cool thing for the evolution of downtown Brooklyn, to be the home of cool, small companies. We want to ignite that.”

Companies: WeWork
Series: Brooklyn

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