TechHui

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A former gallery space in Chinatown? A peaceful cottage in Manoa Valley? An office in the heart of the financial district? When you close your eyes and think of an open, friendly, shared headquarters for creators and developers, what does it look like?

After talking with Burt and Todd years ago, and Patrick most recently, and seeing Manoa Geeks grow and TechHui thrive, I've started to imagine it could happen. I've even named an imaginary coworking spot Lumihana -- "working space."

So tell me... what do you see?

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I think this is an interesting idea, but the question is: Is there enough demand in Honolulu for something like this? Currently, I don't have a need for a place like this even though I do work part time from home. It would be nice to be able to meet with clients in an office environment if you're a freelancer as opposed to a coffee shop or something else like that.

I see some fairly substantial up front costs for a place like this. You would have to buy desks and other office equipment for each working station. Would this work better based on a flat monthly fee for people using the space, or sort of a "pay as you use" monthly billing system that would charge based on the amount of hours you spent there?

Certainly having set office hours would be good, but if you wanted them to be outside the normal 8-5, multiple people with keys would have to be there during those times.
I hate to throw cold water on initiative but we've been having a weekly co-working event for the last two months, organized by Truman Leung. They've been productive events but attendance has been modest. It seems to me that if there truly were demand for a formal co-working space then attendance at the existing co-working events would be more robust. I realize that there may be some people interested in a formal space that wouldn't attend a co-working event at a coffee shop. At the same time, I think it would have to give one pause before taking this to the next level. If there were 20+ people showing up for the existing events, then that might be a good sign. But we're nowhere close to that. Furthermore, half the people (including me) who show up at the current co-working events actually have formal offices and they simply use the co-working events as a chance to escape the office. We are not in need of a second office.

Oh well, hate to be pessimistic since it's a fine idea. And I guess there's no sense in getting theoretical about what might or might not succeed - if you can find the names and a willingness to commit financially, that's great.
That's one perspective. But when I go into a Starbucks I see lots of folks w/ their laptops on. And I know that there are a lot of folks happily working out of a home office that would like to have some type of office in town to hold meetings.
What is the minimum equipment people would look for in a coworking environment, and what kind of layout would they expect? Would it be more of a cubicle environment or a watch room environment with sevral stations on a long table? Would folks be ok with sharing a desk, and just having several lockable drawers and/or lockers setup for storage of personal items?

I have a space now (Cafe Jupiter) that may be able to accomodate a scaled down coworking environment (i.e. sans conf. room, copy room, etc.), but am still picturing how to put it all together while not interfering with the Cafe's operation. What are the key components to making this work, aside from desk space, nice chairs, storage, monitors, MFD, keyboard and mouse?
Hey this is pretty cool! Maybe we should hold a bytemarks meeting at your place and talk about it. Where is Cafe Jupiter?
1601 Kapiolani Blvd, on the Diamond Head side of Ala Moana. The owner is a former Cisco man.

Peter Kay said:
Hey this is pretty cool! Maybe we should hold a bytemarks meeting at your place and talk about it. Where is Cafe Jupiter?
The next Bytemarks lunch is on Thursday, a block away at Don Quijote. For those who haven't been to Cafe Jupiter, could be a combo recon/talkstory excursion.

Going back to Gabe's comment, it's natural to be skeptical of any ambitious plans, and to point at successful coworking gatherings at existing and flexible venues as a better way. I'm not sure a permanent coworking space in the vein of those that operate elsewhere is sustainable, yet.

But for what it's worth, in posing this question, I'm looking specifically at the demographic that falls between coworking at a coffee shop and making the big jump to renting an office somewhere. If you're comfortable meeting up at Tropical Smoothie or Cafe Jupiter, that's fantastic. But I'm convinced there are lots of people contemplating tiny offices for one or two people in Kaimuki or downtown, going for hidden spaces in old warehouses or between dentists in Pearl City (which is where one guy I know ended up this year), when they could go in together with a hui and create something more flexible.

A coworking space, presentation space, exhibit space, performance space, studio space... designed with geeks in mind. Someday, I'm sure of it.
Hey, I'm not a former Cisco guy! Just a very busy multi-tasker.

This co-working idea is actually personal to me, though, since I normally work from home. My principal job is to sit in on conference calls while Enterprise maintenances are being performed on our network, and verifying their security compliance at the end. Working from home is great, but unless you're a total hermit, having an outside space as an available option is preferable to being locked in the house all day.

Daniel Leuck said:
1601 Kapiolani Blvd, on the Diamond Head side of Ala Moana. The owner is a former Cisco man.

Peter Kay said:
Hey this is pretty cool! Maybe we should hold a bytemarks meeting at your place and talk about it. Where is Cafe Jupiter?
Sounds fantastic, Aryn.

Would be great if the desks all had security cables that you could lock your laptop to and take the key and put it in your pocket. That way when you walk away from your desk, you know your laptop is secure.

It'd also be awesome if each desk had an adjustable laptop arm to allow people to bring their laptop up to their eye level and also ergonomic office chairs.

Of course, bathrooms inside the facility or very close would be important, too.

What will your pricing look like?
Aryn, that sounds fantastic. Can't wait to see it when you launch!
Glad to see this discussion generating so much conversation! I'm starting a business, and my cofounders and I are talking about renting shared office space. Aryn, please do keep us posted, I'm very interested.
Coworking in Oahu could be a wonderful thing. Here's a couple ideas from a semi-nomadic technologist.

I think before selecting a location and aesthetic quality for a coworking location, it's important to know where potential co-workers may come from. From what I can see, a significant subset of coworkers stay short term (weeks or months duration) in a city and for that reason may prefer city central or city accessible workspaces. Several co-working situations allow for "renting/subletting" space for these short amounts of time (e.g.: see Boston or Santa Fe). If these coworkers are like me, they are attracted to fresh, new ideas and environments which can come from visiting and working from different locations. Attracting this group of coworkers could provide a stream of innovative ideas, exposure to new tools and techniques, etc...

In contrast, I also imagine a subset of potential Oahu co-workers are established residents, looking for a fairly long-term space for video-cons, visitor meetings, and maybe just a semi-permanent workspace external to their home. In my opinion, if this group is less enthused by a stream of new faces and ideas, they are probably more fitted by the technology/business center paradigm.

There has long been an option to rent short term office spaces in Honolulu, with office amenities and a professional environment, but definitely for a price and lacking the social environment of coworking. A new breed of coworkers, again if like me, will be looking for something cheap for their scrappy startup'ish lifestyle. Maybe an ideal coworking workplace would have both options for the more expensive "corner offices" that some may be willing to pay for, but ideally there should be options for reasonable and temporary desks and workspaces.

Honolulu is a focal point for many conferences and Asia/Pacific commerce, and I believe sees a variety of different business travelers passing through. Catering to them could open up a new and compelling work environment for the city.

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