July 30, 2011
Lots of entrepreneurs don’t have the cash to rent office space, and even employees of large companies are opting for remote work. But this can create less-than-ideal working conditions—something Campbell McKellar herself experienced. Drained by the depressing environment at her real estate company after the financial crisis, she spent three months working out of homes, hotels, and cafes from Maine and Nantucket to Mexico and Guatemala.
“I’d be on the phone in this really intense legal negotiation and the dog would start barking or our niece would start crying. People were like, ‘Where are you?’” Embarrassed to answer that question, she set out to help others find quiet, productive settings with Loosecubes.
Founded in 2010, Loosecubes is not just an extensive database of coworking spaces, although it certainly is that: propelled by $1.21 million in funding from Accel Partners, Battery Ventures, and other investors, the site features almost 1,900 spaces in 382 cities and 52 countries, including Austria, New Zealand, and China.
Beyond that, Loosecubes is also about helping coworkers make fruitful connections. This is why they recently launched recommendations based on your social network—in particular, whether you have mutual Facebook friends with the hosts of the spaces or (coming soon) with other coworkers.
“It’s not just some random people in a room somewhere,” says McKellar, who has seen business partnerships and even a romance grow out of Loosecubes coworking, and welcomes coworkers to her five-person team’s Brooklyn office. “We’re focused on helping match people with not just the right physical environment but the right social and professional environment.”
She may be onto something: Steven B. Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From, shows how innovation thrives in collaborative, multidisciplinary contexts. Loosecubes also encourages casual networking, without the pressure of high-speed mixers where business cards are dispersed wantonly. And it benefits those who are lonely, travel incessantly, or just need some new scenery, as McKellar did.
Loosecubes recently redesigned their site, and the search filters are impressive: space seekers can sort by the type of coworkers, from designers to developers; by eclectic amenities like offering chilled water and being dog-friendly; and by daily, weekly, or monthly rental terms. But indiscriminate coworkers are out of luck: it’s hard to view all possible spaces without any filtering.
Loosecubes has a few direct competitors, albeit without the mutual-friend feature: the beta, Berlin-based Deskwanted, another site with great filters; Desksurfing, also in Germany; and Desks Near Me. Sites like these are making coworking easier than ever, at home and abroad. So next time your hungry newborn or hyperactive dog feels the need to participate in your conference call, explore other options—if only for one peaceful, refreshing day.
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