The Grove was our third stop on the tour de Dallas, or more affectionately, “8 spaces in 31 days.” It’s not far from our offices in the Brewery Building in the West End, so we walked there.
The West End is an interesting place. It’s teeming with start-up life and expansion. It also houses some of the oldest and most iconic architecture in Dallas. Housed on 501 Elm Street, The Grove is directly across from Dealey Plaza and the John F Kennedy museum. The Grove is a space built for open coworking and private offices, and features a presentation room, several conference rooms, and booths complete with soundproofing for making phone calls. The Grove sprawls across the entire floor in two major sections - An open hallway breaks the coworking side from the private offices. The exposed brick and wood beams that are common to buildings in the West End give the space a classic feel while the tall glass doors and countless dual-display work stations remind you that this isn't your father's law offices of the 1970s.
We walked in and were quickly greeted by a Grove "Animator" - a Grove community member who works as a manager. Justin Nygren, one of the founders of the Grove, hustled us over to the coworking side and whispered to us about the WiFi, coffee and private phone booths (really the only things a coworker needs to know about) before quickly surveying the room and returning to the front desk.
The Grove is a community of entrepreneurs and small businesses. Start-ups, research groups, consultants, video production agencies, even a chef. The feeling of community is strong at the Grove, and in the two short days that we spent there, I saw tons of interaction between Grove members and Animators collaborating on a problem or larger project. The Grove helps its members make introductions and connections to the right people for their work and so it caters to both the individual work-horse and the small business. The Grove calls itself "A New Kind of Social Space," and I understand why.
Common Desk was our second stop during the week. The Common Desk is situated in Deep Ellum, off Commerce and Malcom X. It houses over 150 companies and is designed as a coworking and private office space. The Common Desk has a large footprint now, having recently expanded with a new back area that has more bench seating and several private offices. Founder Nick Clark has his roots in real estate but now presides over the recently expanded coworking zone.
Within the space there is a large area for open coworking and members can roam and work freely at large tables, benches and couches. A second story lines the perimeter of the space and looks over the common desk area. The environment is busy but the modular space design, large desks, and high ceilings make for a conducive work environment where you can really focus and get detailed work done. For members, 24/7 access means that work can get done at any time.
The space makes available a broad swath of events and get-togethers for its community. Everyone seems to be well connected to each other and very supportive and respectful of each other. The space is also a frequent host of start-up and community events of Dallas and Deep Ellum and recently hosted Re:Tech, which connects the real estate industry with the start-up community.
The staff there is friendly and helpful and the industrial sized fridge means there's enough room for your large from Serious Pizza - what more could you ask for in a coworking space?
This week we took a detour. Our original goal had been to visit only spaces in Dallas, including the new Deep Ellum coworking space / incubator Commerce.Lab - but he was not open yet. So we asked our friends at the Dallas Entrepreneur Center if we could visit their space in Addison, Treehouse.
In Startup Communities, Eric Ries says that cities are vital partners in building an entrepreneurial ecosystem, but the entrepreneurs must take the lead. This concept is demonstrated in splendid array at Treehouse. The Addison Economic Development group is prominently situated and available - and completely integrated into the Treehouse experience, officing alongside those who are taking big risks and (hopefully) creating big value. The Collide Village accelerator is up and humming, with each member company working shoulder to shoulder. IBM served lunch and gave a seminar on developing cloud applications.
Like The DEC, Treehouse is designed to get you off the ground. A partnership with the city, accelerator program, corporate relationships, flexible workspaces - it presents a strong model for what the future of work might look like.
On our first day at Treehouse, we set up shop in the kitchen. I always like to be in the center of activity, to meet everyone in the space. One of the things I most appreciate about coworking is meeting people - I met a veteran of the Afghanistan war who advises the president on Middle East policy. He started plugging in to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Dallas and he is whirling with the possibilities.
And I saw old friends - RealTech graduate Daniel Black of Glass Media has staged himself at Treehouse, as he rolls out his solution to regional retailers and real estate owners. I spent some time with Trey Bowles discussing the intersection of real estate and the startup movement. It reminded me that the coworking ecosystem is based on and thrives under connections with like-minded people.
The Community Gave To Me...