The rise of coworking spaces downtown is solid evidence of Madison's growing tech scene. I wrote about the phenomenon this winter ("Collaboration Through Chance Encounters," 2/15/13). Now, two more downtown spots are offering the low-cost shared space for techies who want to leave their coffee-shop offices.
Both are in prime locations. Cresa Madison, a tenant-focused commercial real estate consultant, is offering coworking space in Machinery Row overlooking Lake Monona, while 100 State Street, a new nonprofit, overlooks the Capitol from the old Madison Children's Museum building.
"People want to be part of a vibrant business community," says Cresa's TJ Blitz. "They don't want to be stuck out in 'generica' on the west side. They want something creative and cool."
Cresa offers assigned desks at $250 a month ($350 for desks with the best lake views) and various office amenities. "We're looking for people who think their startup is either going to blow up into the next Yahoo in six months or have to close down," says Cresa's Ross Rikkers. In the long run, he hopes these month-to-month tenants with big dreams grow into customers for Cresa's real estate services.
100 State shares the fourth floor with Blue Tree health care consulting. It bills itself as a collaborative. Members work on community projects as well as their own efforts.
The group, for example, wrote the website software for the Make Music Madison celebration as a freebie, but then licensed it to eight other cities, including New York and Denver, to make bucks. An interesting business model, to say the least.
100 State has upwards of 50 members. "Half of them already have jobs," notes Niko Sklevaski, director of business development. "They're coming here because they want to do something that is creative and fun."
The membership model is under review, but when we talked, 100 State was offering shared space starting at $50 a month. "We interview people as if they want a job," notes executive director Michael Fenchel, explaining that 100 State wants people who fit into its culture and bring certain skills to the group.
"This is a very different model of coworking," he admits.