Last night we visited New York City’s newest startup space, WeWork Labs, as they prepared to open up shop.We sat at one of the longtables in the SoHo office, watching as construction workers flew around putting the finishing touches on the space.
“They’re installing a kitchen over there,” cofounder Matt Shampine told us. “Next to that, I think they’re putting in a keg.”
The space, which opened this morning, is a work in progress, just like the people moving in.
WeWork Labs is New York City’s newest home to 30 aspiring entrepreneurs who still don’t have ideas for their startups 100% figured out. It’s a space for people of all backgrounds (marketing, PR, design and IT) to brainstorm, collaborate and develop companies.
WeWork Labs hopes that by sticking talented people in a room together for months at a time, promising ideas, friendships, and businesses will emerge.
If you’re familiar with New York’s other startup spaces, this might help put WeWork in context: If General Assembly is college for entrepreneurs and DogPatch Labs is high school, consider WeWork Labs elementary school. Heck, even pre-school.
WeWork Labs is the creation of cofounders Matthew Shampine (founder of We Are NY Tech), Jesse Middleton, and Adam Neumann. “We came up with the idea for WeWork Labs about 30 days ago,” says Shampine. “We sold all of the sponsorships ourselves, so it’s been a lot of work.”
WeWork Labs is backed by ad agency Jay Walter Thompson, Boxee, and angel investor Spencer Adler, all of whom are offsetting the cost of the 30-50 members. Each member will pay $250 per month per desk. In return, WeWork Labs will provide them with food, booze, a lounge to hold parties, workshops, and startup support.
Shampine tells us the plan is to open WeWork Labs in cities across the nation. Another location in Meatpacking District is underway. Silicon Valley and Los Angeles are next on the list, followed by Boston and Chicago.
“The first six months of this is definitely an experiment,” he says, “And if it fails, it will be our fault for not picking the right people to fill the space.”
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