The rise of collaborative spaces in the last decade has been an integral part of a great shift that has been happening post the financial crisis in 2007-2008. An undercurrent of a movement had started flowing in where as the Influencercon Report “FutureMark-Transcendant Ideas of the Bear Future” says, “for the first time in generations people began to question whether or not the way we were “conducting business” was actually working. The wealth gap, poor global job market (particularly for youth), and collapse of faith in the economic system as a whole forced many to determine new methodologies in order to create new opportunities. There are several organizations that have done an excellent job of the spirit of a new way forward and we briefly highlight them below. Industries represented are lodging, transportation and professional incubation/work space.”
Some of the pioneers in the collaborative space at the dawn of sharing economy movement are Hub Culture, General Assembly, Green Spaces, The Cube to name a few of course. StartupsFM was lucky enough to talk to Marissa, Cofounder of Green Spaces on the story behind this bubbling shared workspace, a breeding ground for innovation bustling with energy and a break from the corporate hamster wheel.
Idea and Vision behind Green Spaces
Originally the cofounders of Green Spaces, Jennie Nevin and Marissa Feinberg had a networking group called Green Leaders Global. Environmental leaders would get together and many collaborations would start to bubble. They thought and imagined what could happen if they all worked from the same space, every day. In 2008, they began by announcing about starting the company with a press release to see the demand and got inquiries right away. So they knew that now they needed to start the space. Eventually they found a landlord in Brooklyn who was willing to work with them on a shoestring budget and were able to take the risk of launching. Then they named it “Green Spaces”.
How do startups benefit from Green Spaces?
Marissa tells us, “We designed Green Spaces for collaboration. The environment is totally open, except for two conference rooms. Therefore, people organically engage with one another, as opposed to separate offices. We also share everything: kitchen, printer, lounge, mailbox, conference rooms, wifi, networking resources, and more.” We are moving away from that rigid 9 to 5 schedule. People want to have life and live. While at work they want to work peacefully, meet new friends.
Green Spaces is living up to this through their intimate cultivation programs. They host a bi-weekly idea bounce lunch over steamed veggie dumplings every Wednesday. In a given week, one’s tablemate could be an industrial designer from Spain; the maker of an online encyclopedia for kids; or the fellow who’s introducing the world’s first fair-trade vodka, made from quinoa, to the U.S. market.
Green Spaces helping local businesses thrive
In-line with values, Green Spaces focus on creating strong relationships with environmentally friendly businesses that exist independently from Green Spaces. For example, if a member is looking for catering, Green Spaces will refer them to a local, organic service. Or if someone is looking for printing, they can refer them to a green printer. These are all businesses with which Green Spaces has developed relationships through various events held within the workspace. All they want to do is encourage a local economy of businesses sending business to one another. That is how they grow stronger togther!
How has Green Spaces become a “platform for Social Change”?
Green Spaces convene “values-driven communities of people who innovate, celebrate and do good.” This vision not only made Green Spaces a place where social entrepreneurs feel at home, but also transformed it into an important hub for the green business community in New York. Marissa says, “Over time, we have found ways to engage people, regardless of whether they are at our space every day. For example, we host events with former members. We connect people with one another with curated connections. We also have sharing social media forums to keep up ties and do good together.”
Green Spaces events and “Green Leader’s Global
By night, they have a great events hub, where people come in for networking, panel discussions, and all sorts of dialogue to forward the sustainability movement and social entrepreneurship globally. Hosting frequent events for members and nonmembers, Green Spaces accept bookings that offer programs. Speakers and other professionals also pay to host events after-hours for workshops.
Since working at Green Spaces is working in a physical network, their members are very savvy and influential people. They are constantly circulating with new startup companies and up on the latest industry trends, and they are on the pulse of social networks and have strong followings.
Green Leaders Global was created to unite people and organizations, who are each leaders in their respective fields, through salon-style events that address timely issues. A community of leaders emerged as well as the idea for a shared place where the industry could gather to work and drive change.
Marissa on how Green Spaces working to support the growth of social entrepreneurship
The majority of members at Green Spaces are social entrepreneurs. However, it becomes harder and harder to define what that means as cross-sector collaboration grows. In addition, we also have members who do not work directly in social entrepreneurship, but they like working from a place where they can compost their lunch. They want to be in a community that has values in mind.
From circulating opportunities to our vast network of conscious professionals to facilitating curated connections that catalyze collaborations in this industry, we serve as a convening and informational pipeline for the social enterprise community.
Most recently, Green Spaces helped Carpooling.com gain traction in the U.S. market. Carpooling.com sent Odile Beniflah to head their U.S. communications outreach. She gained a great deal by coming to our events and meeting key media. As a result of the positive work she did, Carpooling.com raised $10 million. We are very proud.