WeWork is usually considered a real estate business, as coworking spaces offer a place to get office space when starting a company or somewhere to work remotely.
While it’s evident as a discussion point in the company’s various acquisitions over the last year, the latest on-the-ground sign in D.C. comes in the form of the launch of WeWork Labs. The program aiming to provide help for startups as they build businesses got up and running this summer at WeWork 80 M SE after opening to members on June 1.
The Labs concept works as part of a “for-pay” model where startup companies pay per person, for monthly memberships. Along with access to workspace, this includes programming and access to mentors, experts, and enterprise businesses partners like human resources consulting firm Mercer, which is creating an eight-week development program for startups.
“Growth can only happen through collaboration; and in particular by empowering the local entities that have the same intention of helping local startups,” said Roee Adler, Global Head of WeWork Labs, adding that knowledge transfer is one of WeWork’s goals.
The D.C. space looks like a glass-enclosed bullpen adjoining the outside areas of WeWork’s common areas. The space is engineered to encourage collaboration—although other spaces around the world look different in size and layout. There’s no set amount of time Labs members are expected to be a part of the space. They are welcome to come and go as needed for meetings, labs events, and programming. WeWork sees itself as a long-term partner for these startups hoping to retain them as members after they have begun fund-raising.
The Labs concept operates 13 spaces and seven cities in six countries: the United States, Brazil, South Korea, India, and China.
Daniel Flynn, who started two weeks ago, quit his job working for a consulting firm to focus on his startup binbox, an app-based locker storage startup.
“Being entrepreneurial you need that support structure. People have that shared struggle,” said Flynn. “I’m making headway being here. You feel the energy just coming in here. It’s palpable.”
Flynn, who is looking for seed capital framed his experience as supportive. “When you quit your job and you’re going after something, people don’t look at you struggling in the water, they jump in with you.”
Early-stage startup members taking part in WeWork Labs reportedly range across industries from the travel industry, to cybersecurity, public relations, and health and fitness. Startups that are part of the 80 M SE Labs include:
- GridRank: a gamified visual ranking platform that enables fast, intuitive decision making.
- Livalit Travel: a personalized business travel start-up offering branded tours.
- Foresight Resilence Strategies: a cybersecurity consulting business.
- WeAchive: a software company to help users set goals and track progress.
- TuneUrl: a mobile technology star-up that helps radio listeners respond to broadcaster’s calls to action.