Here’s the backstory…
What influenced you to open Subculture? My whole life I’ve been fascinated by how humans organize themselves into groups. I even wrote a Master’s Thesis in social networking. Humans are social creatures, and as the traditional workplace becomes a less and less dominant model, we’re looking for new ways to organize – other ways to share commonality and connect. I was really interested to use a physical gathering place as a platform for experimenting with new ways of organizing ourselves.
What were the major challenges you encountered when you were starting? Real estate in Vancouver is notoriously competitive, and not just for residential property. It took nine months to successfully negotiate a lease. Along the way, I developed a substantial amount of knowledge about how commercial real estate works (here), which I’m grateful for.
With the mushrooming of coworking space today, what do you think is your edge from other spaces? I’ve created the space that most feels like a hybrid of home and work. I like to think of it as having the upsides of both, without the downsides. We allow (and even encourage) napping in various comfortable spaces. There are dogs that you don’t have to walk if they’re not yours.
I often say coworking space managers and their spaces are like dog owners and their dogs – after a while they seem to resemble each other. Our community tends to be a little older, and have been working outside of a traditional office for a while. This is in many ways a great opportunity for members who are new to it and looking for guidance and great conversation.
What do you think is the key to a successful coworking space? A successful coworking space encourages engagement but doesn’t push it. It offers opportunities for members to connect in simple, human ways – through eating together or having a drink. It’s a new option for a “Third Space”, traditionally provided for my religious community spaces and other places of organized congregation. It offers a place to develop socially that is neither home nor work, but something in between.
How do you cope up with the growing needs of your members? I’m not sure that the needs of members grow as your community develops. I do think that leadership becomes more important as your space and business matures. If anything, I work to help my members become more self sufficient, and reliant on each other. Everybody has a wealth of skills to share!
Tell us something we might be surprise to know about Subculture. Subculture is a non-profit, that provides community space for a bunch of local organizations and individuals. We have meeting rooms, events space and a production studio that can all be booked by the general public, plus an affordable annual membership that gets you some perks and discounted rates for our amenities. We also create free or low cost programming to support our community either professionally, or socially. The non-profit is partnered with a for profit business called The Studio at CC manages our desk membership.
Some of my favorite moments at Subculture…