A Guide to Detroit Coworking Spaces
Boom Times for Coworking: Detroit Becoming a Hub for the New Ways to Work
Our friend Amanda Lewan knows just how powerful coworking can be for cities. She is the co-founder of Bamboo, a busy coworking space in downtown Detroit. The company offers everything from communal working space to individual desks to private or virtual office space to local entrepreneurs.
What it’s also done is help fuel the current rebirth taking place in downtown Detroit. Coworking firms such as Bamboo are bringing entrepreneurs to the center of the city. These entrepreneurs might be heading big corporations or the founders of small start-up firms.
But they’re all providing a boost to the center of Detroit, bringing more people to shop at local businesses, eat at area restaurants and live in the new high-rise apartment projects sprouting in downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods.
Bamboo is a good example. The company isn’t that old, getting its start in 2013. But that youth hasn’t prevented it from growing. Bamboo is located in Detroit’s Julian C. Madison Building at 1420 Washington Blvd. Lewan said that when she started Bamboo, the company occupied just 2,000 square feet. Today, Bamboo boasts almost 25,000 square feet and includes nearly 500 entrepreneur members.
Why has the company grown so steadily? Lewan points to Bamboo’s commitment to Detroit and its entrepreneurs. The company holds networking events at its Washington Boulevard headquarters throughout the year. This includes its Female Founder Fridays Breakfast & Coworking events it held during Women’s History Month in March, a tax-preparation workshop in late February and a public-speaking workshop in early March.
Bamboo has also held sessions to help entrepreneurs get the most out of LinkedIn, master the ins and outs of property law and develop business ideas from the napkin stage to finished product.
Community is Key to Coworking Success
“Our focus on community and being ingrained in Detroit has helped us grow,” Lewan said. “We also benefit from a great network of talented founders and creatives. Tons of people have been through our doors. They have been instrumental in spreading the word and highlighting the benefits of coworking.”
Lewan said that she expects coworking to only grow in popularity. Entrepreneurs today don’t often have the funds to lease more expensive office space. By working with a coworking provider, they’ll pay less for rent and have more dollars to invest in their companies.
At the same time, entrepreneurs will gain access to meeting space, high-speed Internet (Rocket Fiber provides dedicated Internet service to Bamboo, for example) and professional office space, a better alternative than trying to do business from their homes or often noisy coffee shops.
“Coworking provides the amenities you might still want in a turnkey, flexible way,” Lewan said. “If you’re starting a company from home, you can have a professional space. Your Internet at home or in a coffee shop might not be reliable or it might slow down if you get busy. That won’t happen in our space. Working from your own home or a coffee shop isn’t as professional as having your own conference room and bringing investors into a space like ours.”
Today, entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need their own fixed office space, at least not in the beginning stages of their business. That’s where coworking spaces come in. Spaces like Bamboo can offer entrepreneurs a professional mailing address, desk space, conference rooms, office space and, just as importantly, the powerful Internet connections they need to run their businesses. Many of the coworking companies doing business in Detroit rely on our fiber optic gigabit internet services to help attract business owners to their spaces.
When Lewan and her co-founders launched Bamboo, it was the first coworking space in downtown Detroit. The company hasn’t forgotten these roots and continues to focus on the Detroit community, Lewan said.
Downtown Detroit is now home to a growing roster of start-ups and established companies. There are modern high-rise apartments rising along its streets. The Little Caesars Arena, home to the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons, is also in downtown, and it, too, attracts plenty of traffic to the area.
Coworking is Helping Fuel Detroit’s Growth
Lewan says that the tech and start-up community, the same community served by Bamboo, has played a role in boosting the activity in the city’s downtown.
“It’s an exciting time here right now,” Lewan said. “Everyone cares for and supports each other here. I knew when we opened in 2013 that we were going to grow and that downtown Detroit was going to grow. I hope to see even more growth. We might not be as dense as a city like Chicago, but we are going to get there. Our economy is diversified, and Bamboo is playing an important role in that.”
Detroit isn’t alone. In its report on the growth of co-working spaces, the Global Coworking Unconference Conference and Emergent Research predicted that there would be 5,026 coworking spaces across the United States by the end of 2019. And by the end of 2022? That number was expected to rise to 6,219.
That’s an impressive amount of growth considering that the report identified only 14 coworking spaces in the United States as of the end of 2007.
The number of people who work from these spaces is on the rise, too. The report said that as of the end of 2016, 331,000 people worked from coworking spaces. The report predicts that this number will jump to 754,000 by the end of 2019 and an impressive 1.076 million by the end of 2022.
Coworking is on the Rise Across the Country
The growth of WeWork is a good example. WeWork, of course, is the biggest provider of coworking space in the United States. It wasn’t always this way, though.
WeWork started with a single coworking space in New York City in 2010. Today? WeWork operates coworking spaces in 100 cities in 27 countries. The company as of mid-January of 2019 had opened 425 locations. More than 400,000 people around the globe work in office space rented from a WeWork facility.
Two of these WeWork locations are in Detroit, and the company counts about 2,000 members in these buildings. Kyle Steiner, Detroit community director with WeWork, said that WeWork has brought businesses of all size to downtown Detroit. It’s true that several larger companies rent space with WeWork, but the company’s Detroit locations are also filled with several smaller businesses, too.
Several of these are start-ups, and the opportunity to rent coworking space allows these entrepreneurs to stake their place in Detroit’s up-and-coming downtown business community, Steiner said.
“We create an option that is viable for folks starting their business up to the large enterprise businesses opening satellite offices,” Steiner said. “Those businesses at the end of the day are made up of people who walk the streets and visit businesses within the city. All of this lends to the vibrancy and economy of our rebounding city.”
As Steiner says, Detroit has suffered through tough times. It became easy, especially when the city declared bankruptcy in 2013, to think of Detroit as a city in decline. Today, that’s changed. The influx of businesses, both large and small, to Detroit is rehabbing not just the city itself but its image, too.
And coworking spaces have played an important role in this transformation, Steiner said. “Businesses, large and small, are recognizing that Detroit is the place to be.”
Bamboo and WeWork aren’t the only companies offering coworking space in Detroit. Other providers include TechTown Detroit’s Junction 440, which was founded in 2000; Hunt Street Station, which is home to more than 30 businesses; Femology Detroit, a coworking space focused on female entrepreneurs; SpaceLab Detroit, which focuses on entrepreneurs in the building trades; and Green Garage, a coworking space located in a Midtown building that dates to 1920 and was once a showroom for Model T-based cars.
We are proud to provide our fiber optic gigabit Internet service to nearly all of these spaces and the growing businesses located inside of them.