In Hamilton, ON, a team of entrepreneurs are putting a new twist on the concept of co-working spaces.
“For us, it’s part of the community mission, wanting to make sure that any small business that develops here has a leg up and the ability to boost itself and actually become something,” says Ryan Moran, co-founder of CoMotion.
In its simplest form, co-working spaces allow small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to share common amenities to keep overhead costs down. By the end of 2017, more than 1 million people worldwide will have worked in a co-working space, predicts the 2017 Global CoWoking Survey. CoMotion is taking its spaces to the next level, with attractive facilities, membership perks, and events that focus on building collaborative, community-minded work environments.
“We’re trying to make this a space where you can have the benefits of a big company, but the flexibility of being able to focus on your own goals as an individual or small business,” says Moran.
CoMotion is Moran’s second community development venture. He is also a founding member of Hamilton Hive, a collaborative network that works to empower and support young professionals.
Bringing the Co-Motion team together
The sequence of events that brought CoMotion to life is what its founders hope to spark for other entrepreneurs. At the time, fellow co-founder Joe Accardi was making a name for himself as a serial entrepreneur, having a hand in a few different projects at once. He had already started a co-working space in central-east Hamilton but knew there was potential for growth. Through conversations with Tammy Hwang, he was inspired to start another one with her help.
Hwang then brought in Moran to discuss ideas, branding, and development. The team was almost complete, but the trio needed one more player. Enter Chad Fullerton, known within the community as an “entrepreneurial Swiss army knife”. CoMotion was born.
Today, CoMotion serves a community of more than 100 members with two co-working spaces: a 10,000 square-foot flagship location downtown, and the original “cottage” location in East Hamilton.
Co-working done differently
Most co-working spaces are built around three things: affordable rates, a place to network socially, and event hosting. CoMotion offers these, and more.
“We have a full corporate perks package our members can be a part of, that provides discounts at certain businesses, stores, and restaurants,” says Moran. “We’re also in the process of starting up our insurance benefits package, so members can opt-in to a health and dental insurance plan. One of the risks of being a startup is not having access to that safety net, so we’re trying to provide it to our members.”
CoMotion also has a full-time Community Manager within each space to help facilitate member connections as well as internal member-only events.
On choosing a .CA
CoMotion’s website has been a core part of the company since day one. Moran says that creating the website was quick and easy since the domain name they wanted, commotiongroup.ca was readily available.
“Our website is both a promotional and informative tool,” Moran explains. “We also have a behind-the-scenes portal that our members use for payment, meetings and bookings.”
Picking a .CA domain aligned with CoMotion’s main goal of increasing the presence and understanding of co-working spaces in Canada.
“There was definitely an idea that we wanted to be a Canadian company, and representing that Canadian identity,” says Moran. “Compared to the United States, co-working spaces are still emerging as a concept and an industry in Canada.”
“For us, the idea of being a strong co-working brand in Canada, that can speak to co-working as an industry and concept, is very desirable. So, having a .CA domain really meant a lot to make sure that we were trusted and identified as Canadian.” – Ryan Moran, co-founder of Co-Motion
Tips and tricks for success
Co-working spaces are all about bringing talented people together in one space. When you’re surrounded by smart and creative entrepreneurs, there’s potential to leverage their resources. At CoMotion, that concept is not only encouraged, it’s been given a name.
“Our members aren't officially employees, but we have access to their talents through what we call energy-exchange,” says Moran. "Our members share their expertise with us on things like digital media content, social media, management, graphic design, and PR. In return, we give them a lower rate on using the space, and offer our own talents to their teams where we can.”
Sometimes, energy-exchanges can be as simple as conversations. Being surrounded by entrepreneurs from different industries and backgrounds provides access to a wealth of new perspectives, lessons learned, and advice. Moran’s top tip for new startups is to be prepared for managing team dynamics.
“Great teams aren’t always easy teams,” he notes. “We love each other and work well with each other, but we will challenge each other on directions and ideas. That leads to us being better in the end.”
This article was produced with the support of Startup Canada to profile Canadian businesses.
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