Set against the historic backdrop of the former Lee’s Summit post office, the past and present intentionally collide to create Bridge Space — a 13,000-square-foot coworking space that elevates entrepreneurs in the city’s bustling downtown business district, said Ben Rao.
“I’m in the hospitality business. It’s about this experience that people have. We’re not just placing spaces,” said Rao, founder of Bridge Space, of the intentionality ingrained in every corner of the coworking space.
It’s a place designed to propel startups toward success and inspire thoughtful and creative ideas among their teams, he said.
Conference rooms and open-air event spaces, a patio area, community kitchen, and historic vault turned podcasting studio pull the entrepreneurial environment together to create the experience that is uniquely Bridge Space, Rao explained.
Open spaces and communal sinks are just two of the ways Bridge Space opens a door to intentional networking opportunities for startups and small businesses, who hold private offices within the coworking space, he said.
Murals painted by local artists cover dozens of walls throughout the building — acknowledgement of the creative and collaborative climate that inhabits Bridge Space, Rao explained.
“As soon as people come in, they say, ‘I didn’t realize I wanted this,’” he said, an example of the community’s increasing interest in the culture of coworking.
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Bridge Space memberships — complete with a mailbox and around-the-clock building access — begin at $250 a month.
Open for a little more than a month, Bridge Space continues to look for startups to inhabit its plethora of window-walled, offices. The space is slowly but surely filling up, largely with tech startups, Rao said from atop the building’s interior balcony — created from the remains of secret tunnels, once roamed by federal agents working for the U.S. Postal Service.
Creating opportunities for his neighbors to grow their businesses in the city he calls home has been a bonus for the self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, Rao said with excitement.
“I don’t know all the answers for Lee’s Summit. I just think it’s a focus group of people and some timing and then it’s like, now we have spaces like this. I see a philosophy of living in the city, realizing, ‘OK, we can create jobs through entrepreneurship.’”
Rao wholeheartedly believes coworking will transform the entrepreneurial ecosystem that’s developed in the northwest Missouri suburb over the last several years, he said.