Denver’s Coworking Community Finding Growth
Chris Kissner was running his own business out of his apartment in the Uptown neighborhood of Denver and going stir crazy. He didn’t leave his place for days at a time and was lacking human interaction.
“I tried to have plants for a few months, but I felt sorry for the guys,” said Kissner, owner and founder of ProCntr, a business development company.
Kissner searched for ways to get out and found a solution a few blocks away, a coworking space called Creative Density at 17th Avenue and Emerson Street. Kissner has been there since.
“I was wishing for something like this,” Kissner said. “This absolutely improved productivity and changed dynamically how I work.”
Coworking spaces are shared collaborative work spaces that rent out a place for a small business owner, freelancer or remote workers to work.
Craig Baute started Creative Density, which opened in 2011, after helping start a coworking space in Toronto. He said the sense of community is what really drives people to rent space from him. It gets people out of the house to work and is better than a coffee shop where people plug in, grab a cup of coffee and are still essentially isolated.
“The people here really want community. It’s for outgoing social people who want to be part of an active workspace. That’s how we’re defined,” Baute said.
Denver is considered an up-and-comer on awareness and number of coworking spaces. Baute said the wave started in San Francisco and is also big in New York, Austin, Toronto and Boulder.
Baute said there are four or five spaces for coworking in the downtown Denver area, with a few more on the way.
With that in mind, Baute formed Denver Coworks, an organization of five owners of coworking spaces to network, share ideas and help each other. The group meets every other week.
“Our greatest competitor is lack of awareness. It’s not each other,” he said.
Denver Coworks will also host Denver Coworking Week in May as a way to network further and will hold several events at various locations around the city.
Baute said most of the spaces have their own sort of niches.
One space, Green Spaces Colorado, at 26th and Walnut, caters more to individuals in environmentally based businesses. They are also in a warehouse, allowing for more open space, whereas Creative Density has smaller rooms in a house setting.
“Starting a company can be lonely and scary. Being able to come and work in community areas and sharing knowledge can help,” owner Jennie Nevin said.
Nevin has been in the coworking business for about five years and has had her Denver space for about three years after relocating from New York.
She sees coworking being a big thing by the end of the decade.
“I think in the past year, Denver has been picking up a lot of steam in coworking,” she said.