Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 5
Co-working provides an alternative to the typical office in Santa Maria
BY DORA SALTZMAN
Starting a business might be a dream for many entrepreneurs, but between working from home and ill-equipped coffee shops, finding a place to run one’s business can be a struggle.
“Co-working” centers are a potential solution to this problem. They provide entrepreneurs a consistent space to work and the opportunity for collaboration with other business owners.
Anne Cremarosa is the owner of MIYB (Make It Your Business) Spaces in Santa Maria, the city’s first and only co-working facility.
“Being an entrepreneur is a team sport, and we give them a place to build that team,” Cremarosa said. “It’s a much better alternative than going to a coffee shop and trying to make that work.”
Co-working is thought to provide better productivity than the isolated environment of a home office or a distracting public setting.
“We see people start working from home and they get idle, so they start getting dressed and going to Starbucks every morning,” she said. “Getting up and going somewhere is a big step, but it helps even more to go somewhere that people are doing the same things, where there’s a smiling receptionist to greet you, and where people know your name.”
It is in this manner that like-minded entrepreneurs are able to interact as co-workers in a dedicated space to grow their individual ideas while also enjoying the benefit for potential collaborations—all without the overhead of an office.
“Co-working provides all of the amenities of a corporate office,” Cremarosa said. “The beauty is that you’re only paying for the space you need when you need it.”
The concept has been in practice since the mid-2000s, primarily in urban environments where renting office space comes at a premium. Though co-working is brand new to Northern Santa Barbara County, the HotHouse in San Luis Obispo and the Workzone in Santa Barbara are two functioning examples in the area.
Cremarosa chose her location on Main Street in Santa Maria because of its proximity to the heart of town and because she felt it was something the city needed.
“It’s something the city definitely needs, but because it’s a novel idea, it took someone with some vision, passion, and guts,” she said. “I think it’s critically important to do something in this community to help build a base for entrepreneurs.”
Business owners have nearly 40 workspaces on two levels to choose from: a mixture of first-come, first-serve open seating; reserved desk spaces; and a large “hub space” that can accommodate four to five people. A conference room is also available by reservation.
The office is staffed during normal business hours, and like most co-working facilities, MIYB Spaces plans to give its members the option of having 24-hour access.
“Prices vary depending on whether a business wants limited or unlimited access,” Cremarosa said. “Someone could come in for four hours a day and pay for half-day access, or use the facility all day and have as much access as they want.”
Memberships start at $125 for one month and include unlimited coffee and tea, Wi-Fi, and the use of basic office necessities like a colored printer, paper cutters, and staplers. There are also plans for a café in the future.
Co-working spaces also aim to provide a bridge between the entrepreneur and the community. MIYB Spaces plans to have networking events, seminars, and workshops for both members and non-members.
“We’re working really hard to build a place that will support its own growth,” Cremarosa said. “We have resources and we have people that are willing to help with a business plan, branding, and things like that.”
These resources will include a space in the office for representatives from Women’s Economic Ventures of Santa Barbara County and Spokes of San Luis Obispo.
“The idea is to make sure we draw a really diverse group of members, since that’s really what creates the synergy that leads to innovation,” Cremarosa said. “[Co-working] doesn’t function as well if there’s only one type of business.”
Some of MIYB Spaces’ existing and potential clients include a group of realtors, a social media company, a court mediator, and multiple tech-related businesses.
Guillermo Chavez—the owner of WeGift, a marketing agency that acts as an alliance between nonprofit and for-profit organizations in the community—is also one of these early members.
Chavez was the winner at Startup Weekend, an event at which entrepreneurs meet to pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors, Shark Tank-style. A membership at MIYB Spaces was part of his prize package.
“It’s been a year, and I love working here,” he said. “It’s much different than working out of your house without the resources or tools to operate a business. You definitely get what you need in a space like this.”
Though the doors have been open since the beginning of the month, the ribbon cutting ceremony isn’t set to occur until May 2. The event will include a “Java Jam” with a local radio station.
“We’re trying to make a celebration out of it,” Cremarosa said. “I want people to come out and see what it’s all about.”
Contact Intern Dora Saltzman at email@example.com.