Isn't that just a coffee shop alternative for freelancers?
While shared work environments are nothing new, they have come a long way since 2005. Fun fact: That's when the first coworking space on record—the Hat Factory—was opened by Brad Neuberg in San Francisco.
The initial concept was simple: provide a casual work environment for both freelancers and employed remote workers who would like to save money on lattes. However, the idea quickly gained steam. By 2012 there were reportedly more than 2,000 coworking spaces around the globe.
In recent years, coworking spaces have attracted a large number of tech startups. In this article, we'll introduce you to a few of the tech companies who found success at coworking spaces in San Francisco. But first, let's review why coworking works well for tech startups.
5 San Francisco Tech Startups That Started in a Coworking Space
Coworking + Tech Startups = Success
1. Hassle-Free Maintenance: When you're trying to grow a startup, the last thing you should be doing is taking out the trash. You also shouldn't be wasting time answering phones, cleaning coffee makers, or scrounging for lunch. The best coworking facilities take care of the day-to-day details on your behalf, so you can focus on what matters most.
2. Flexible Space Options: One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of starting a new company is committing to an office. Most lease terms are one year minimum. For better or worse, things can change very quickly in the tech startup world. Which is why committing to a space that might be too big or too small six months down the road makes no sense. Scale up only when you know you can swing it. Coworking spaces offer flexible memberships, allowing startups to grow from one to twenty without having to lock in a price for a year.
3. Easy Networking Opportunities: The more funding you have, the more likely you are to succeed. By working from a shared office space at a tech-centric facility, you are more likely to run into the right kind of people: VCs, angel investors, and mentors who can help you grow faster.
For other startups tips and the best coworking spaces, events, and meet ups in the Bay Area, grab our free guide: The Silicon Valley Startup Guide
Who Got Their Start Coworking?
The overwhelming success of Uber has been nothing short of phenomenal. In just five years the ride-sharing app has become available in 58 countries and acquired more than $50 billion in funding. Reportedly, the number of individuals signing up to become Uber drivers doubles every six months.
Co-founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp developed the app right here in San Francisco. The duo relied on coworking as a way to make connections while keeping costs low. Early on, the company garnered backing from both Google Ventures and Fidelity Ventures, and worked at a few different coworking locations including The Yard (NYC) and RocketSpace (SF).
Augmedix is another successful tech startup that started in a coworking space (RocketSpace). The company seeks to help doctors save time through the use of Google Glass. Augmedix provides physicians with "real-time, quality-controlled, and customized remote scribes."
The note-taking device reportedly allows users to see up to 25 percent more patients. Additionally, patient medical history can be retrieved without ever having to interact with a computer. The Augmedix executive team, along with their group of advisors and mentors, combines decades of healthcare, technology, and operational experience.
Co-founders Ian Shakil and Pelu Tran relied on coworking, while bringing their vision to life. To date, the duo has gained the attention of an impressive number of investors and won a Tech & Innovation Award from the San Francisco Business Times.
Who doesn't love Instagram? Only two months after launching the company attracted an astounding one million users. Founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the photo-sharing platform became available to the public in 2010.
Who could have predicted that two years later, with only 13 employees, the company would be acquired by Facebook for $1 billion? Or that The Oxford English Dictionary would have named selfie "word of the year" in 2013? Undoubtedly, much of Instagram's success is due to a brilliant idea the public was ready for.
But staying lean, attracting key VCs and coworking (Dogpatch Labs, SF) ultimately allowed Systrom and Krieger to bring that idea to fruition. While the team has come a long way since their coworking days, working in a shared space provided the flexibility that allowed them to grow.
ezeep digitally outsources print infrastructure management. Its mission: Help small to medium-sized companies save costs associated with printing and print-infrastructure. The company also aims to help the same companies minimize environmental waste.
ezeep's journey actually began in CEO Sascha Kellert's mother's kitchen. When it was time to move on, Kellert ultimately decided coworking was the way to go and set his sights on Betahaus in Berlin. Kellert has gone on the record saying the collaborative work energy, fellow founders and professional connections provided via coworking was pivotal to his success.
Like most founders, money was tight in the early days. As opposed to renting a traditional office, coworking allowed Kellert to just rent a few desks. And, as an added bonus, the workspace attracted several journalists who ultimately provided ezeep with press coverage.
Another popular tech startup in San Francisco with coworking roots? Indiegogo—the online portal where entrepreneurs go to test, crowdsource, and fund their ideas. What began as a crowdfunding platform for film projects, has since morphed into the world's first equity crowdfunding platform.
In 2016 the company launched Equity Crowdfunding with four participating startups. Each raised more than $60,000 within the first week. CEO David Mandelbrot recently stopped by RocketSpace to discuss what the future holds for startups and crowdfunding.
Until recently, startups were restricted to raising equity funding from accredited investors who met specific income or wealth requirements. With Equity Crowdfunding, any aspiring venture capitalist can invest in a startup in exchange for equity. Put simply, Indigogo is bringing more opportunity to the table. To date, Indiegogo has raised more than $800 million for over 600,000 projects in 223 different countries. And just think — it all started with a few shared desks!
It's Hard Being a Tech Startup In San Francisco
There's no doubt about it: building a tech startup in San Francisco isn't easy.
With the right connections, the proper funding, and a killer team, you grow. Coworking just might help you get there faster. Where else would you find yourself with easy access to mentors, investors, fellow founders, and potential customers, who can provide those "golden nuggets" that make the difference?
With that said, not all coworking spaces are created equal. RocketSpace is a tech-focused campus, exclusively admitting Seed to Series-C funded startups with MVPs that have users and customers. We carefully select only the best of the best with the intention of creating an exceptional talent pool of founders.
The proof is in the pudding. In six years, RocketSpace has seen 18 “unicorns” pass through its doors that have raised more than $21 billion in funding (excludes all alumni Uber's funding).
Come and see for yourself, get a free day pass.