What’s on tap at tPC - October 2018

This month at tPC features great vendors, cool tunes and a diverse array of activities.

 

What we’re drinking

 

Coffee  

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Elm’s seasonal Nine Swans blend is currently “a single farmer caturra varietal lot from Huehuetenango Guatemala, El Olvido.  We love Guatemalan coffees, particularly from Huehuetenango, as single-origin espresso coffees for their rich sweetness, coating body, and orange and tangerine acidity.”

 

Beer 

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For the second month in a row we’re featuring a keg from upstart Metier Brewing in Woodinville, WA.   The Red Ale “is brewed with Willamette and East Kent Golding hops. Light and balanced maltiness with notes of caramel and roasted nuts.”

 

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As always we have a fridge full of rotating LaCroix flavors, from the crowd darling Pamplemousse to the polarizing Coconut.  We’re always on the lookout for rare finds like Key Lime.  Send tips to jamie@thepioneercollective.com

 

What we’re listening to

 

Big Thief

https://open.spotify.com/track/5uDpxPV3mCCS1Pgv7Rocvr?si=zVQMw5OJRZyTUEsAJqAmIQ 

 

 

What we’re doing   

 

10/11 FieldTrip To Convivial Cafe

You may remember that we announced the opening of Convivial Cafe in last month’s newsletter. Well now we’re going! tPC is going on a fieldtrip across the lake to Mercer Island to visit Joel’s new bakery/cafe, so mark your calendars for October 11th.

 Joel and the team at Convivial

Joel and the team at Convivial

 10/16 Members Lunch Catered by Cafe Zum Zum

Lunch is on us! On Tuesday, October 16th, tPC will be providing lunch just to say thank you for being awesome! Stop by for some tasty Pakistani/Indian food.

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10/18 - Skill Share: Wills & Wine

Start your health care directive & estate documents with very local lawyer & front desk enthusiast, Kathleen Nacozy! Kathleen will be getting us started on the oh-so-fun end of life documents that everyone needs all while enjoying a glass of wine! The skill share is on Oct. 18th @ 5:30 pm in the Main Conference Room. Attendance is limited to 10. 

tPC Member Spotlight - Offbeat

We sat down with the guys from Offbeat, a video production company based out of the Pioneer Collective, to hear a little bit about how they got started in the industry. Thomas Ackles & Danny Chastain come together to create content for everyone from small startups to big companies like Nestle & Dreyer's. To see some of their work, check out their site here. 

Q: How did you get interested in film? What’s your background and what led you to your current career?

 T: Growing up my brothers and I were nerds and would make short films, music videos, and news broadcasts around the house with friends--much to my mother’s chagrin)--since then I have always loved the process of making something creative. I spent the years leading up to Offbeat as a videographer in a few different cities but decided to join forces with Danny because of his incredible talent and our ability to work together as a team.

D: Growing up I was all about playing sports. However, when I got to college I started to become more interested in the arts and the beauty that they bring to everyday life. I began to sing in the choir and take broadcasting classes and that's when I truly started to dig in to storytelling. Having projects and assignments that were engaging and made me turn on a creative mind really helped me fall in love with photo and video. Since those assignments in college, I've always had a camera over my shoulder wherever I go. 

 Q: You’ve both been making films most of your lives. What was each of your first films about?

T: One day my older brother convinced me to be the main actor in his music video for "Rainbow Connection" by Kenny Loggins... Needless to say, it may be the most embarrassing video of my life. To this day he claims he will be showing that video at my wedding.

 D: The first memorable film that I made was a spoof of the show, “The Osbournes”. Our version was called “The Fatbournes” and my friends and I just stuffed our shirts with pillows and took everything out of the pantry at home and sat around this table with a bunch of food and big bellies talking like Ozzy Osbourne does. 

 Q: How did you both meet and what made you decide to start a company together?

T&D: We met in college at Gonzaga University. We originally became good friends through music and clubs we were in; then, being in the same major, we worked on projects together and liked each other’s work. We would watch videos of our favorite production companies and also videos from other companies and thought, 'we could do that!'. It was about Junior or Senior year that we decided we wanted to start a company together and after a few years in the field learning separately, we’re finally making it happen!

 Q:  What are some of the difficulties of being a small production company?

T&D: With the advent of the cell phone camera and affordability of DSLR style cameras, it’s been harder convincing clients that it’s worth their money to hire professionals to produce high quality video content. Everyone knows of a friend with a nice phone or some equipment, but there is value in hiring professionals who can work full time to create the best product.

Q: Offbeat’s aim is to help people get their story out, whether that’s for a restaurant, a student, or a hospital. Why is that important to you?

T&D: Everyone has a story - cliche I know, but it's true. And we are storytellers by nature. We are passionate about people and want to help them to tell their unique stories. Everyone you meet, whether a CEO, janitor, small business owner, or student -- they all have their own story in its own wonderful rite. That being said, with the internet functioning the way its functioning today, there is so much saturation in our lives when it comes to content. We want to tell stories that impact at least one person. If one person is impacted by our work then we've done our job. 

Q:  What’s the difference between working with, say, students at Gonzaga, and working with big companies like Nestle or Dreyer’s?

T: Honestly, it has been a learning process from the beginning, and I hope that never changes. We always are trying to improve. But I would say the scale of some of our productions and the amount of time and effort that goes into planning things has been a fun but challenging change in our recent projects.

 D: To us, only the creative strategy changes with each client. We try to keep the same dedicated approach no matter who the client is. Since we are a small business, we cater to our clients as much as possible and to really make them feel like they're working with friends.

 Q: There are a lot of production companies out there. What makes Offbeat different?

T: We are a company where creativity inspires passion. Our goal is to make people feel when they watch our work. That can be happiness, wonder, anger, or even inspiration to act, our goal is for people to feel connected to the human story through the medium of video.

D: Like we said, everyone has a story and everyone knows that to be true. What makes us different is our ability to pick out the story and tell it in an engaging and fitting way. We have a great ability to match the mood of the client and deliver something that they are going to be happy with. 

Q: I have to ask… What’s your favorite movie, commercial, or video?

T: So many options! However, I know Danny and I both love the movie La La Land.

D: Thomas is right, La La Land is the best. My favorite commercials were from the 'Real Man of Genius' campaign Budweiser ran many years back -- they still make me laugh every time I watch them. 

 

Video Member Spotlight Vol 1 - Smarthouse Creative

We caught up with Brad, Amie, Ryan and Rachel of Smarthouse Creative for the first video edition of our recurring Members Spotlight blog feature.  Smarthouse is an agency specializing in strategy, publicity, and marketing for independent artists.

Check out some of the cool projects produced by Smarthouse's current clients:

 

You can learn more about Smarthouse Creative or get in touch with them below:

323.379.5595 // heyyouguys@smarthousecreative.com

Seattle Coffee Gear & tPC Team Up to Keep You Caffeinated

As many of you probably already know, coffee makes the world go 'round. And we definitely know that here at the Pioneer Collective which is why we have teamed up with our good friends at Seattle Coffee Gear to bring delicious espresso right to our members.

Approximately 150 million Americans drink coffee daily. And although, we love the famous Seattle coffee scene, sometimes there is just not enough time in the day or money in our wallets to stop and wait in line for that afternoon pick-me-up latte--which is where Seattle Coffee Gear comes in. 

Seattle Coffee Gear was started by a man named Victor on a mission to have an excellent cup of coffee all from the convenience of his own home. He took that mission and expanded it into a business with like minded people who are passionate about providing a quality product. The Seattle Coffee Gear team is friendly, knowledgeable, and passionate. They even have an in-house repair center on the off chance that your machine has an issue.  

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One of my personal favorite aspects of Seattle Coffee Gear is their commitment to supporting Coffee Kids, a non-profit working towards enriching the lives of coffee-farming communities in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Coffee Kids focuses on teaching young farmers entrepreneurial skills, providing them with seed capital, and mentoring them in order that they may have the tools they need to face the challenges of small production coffee farming. Coffee Kids has helped over 200,000 families since their start in 1988. Learn more about the work that Coffee Kids is doing here.

The Pioneer Collective is currently housing Seattle Coffee Gears' Rocket Espresso R58 Espresso MachineEureka Atom Espresso Grinder  so our members have constant access to a flow of caffeinated goodness. 

 

 The Rocket Espresso R58 Espresso Machine is currently available for purchase at Seattle Coffee Gear to meet all of your in home espresso needs!

The Rocket Espresso R58 Espresso Machine is currently available for purchase at Seattle Coffee Gear to meet all of your in home espresso needs!

 The Eureka Atom Espresso Grinder works to uniformly grind your beans all while being easily adjustable and quiet & is also available for purchase. 

The Eureka Atom Espresso Grinder works to uniformly grind your beans all while being easily adjustable and quiet & is also available for purchase. 

This model of espresso machine was hand made in Milan, Italy and comes equipped with a double boiler, electronic temperature controls, and adjustable feet so you can make it fit just right on your counter! Learn a little bit more about the Rocket Espresso R58 here

We've also found that the Eureka Atom Grinder works great for our space since it is ultra quiet thanks to a metal case dedicated to quieting the motor. It is perfect for being able to make a cappuccino to enjoy in the morning without waking up a sleeping partner or disturbing the neighbors. 

So whether you are looking for a place to enjoy a great cup of coffee and to get some work done or an at home brewing system for all of your caffeine needs, we here at the Pioneer Collective & Seattle Coffee Gear have you covered. To learn more about the machines and gear Seattle Coffee Gear carries, check out their Youtube channel! They have a ton of great content teaching you the ins and outs of at home brewing.

 

Stay Safe. Stay Caffeinated.

Pioneer Square: A Commuter's Paradise!

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Photo Credit: Timothy Aguero Photography

With over 1,000 people moving to Seattle each week, our city is growing fast! And like two inches of skin showing at the bottom of a middle schooler’s jeans, traffic is one of the signs that we’ve outgrown some of our systems.

Thankfully transit, ride shares, parking services -- and their user-friend apps -- are make getting around a whole lot easier. Environmentally friendlier options like car and bike shares are popping up everywhere. And lucky for us, Pioneer Square is right in the middle of it, making our neighborhood a commuters paradise!

By (Your Own) Car:
Street parking in Pioneer Square is metered, limited to 2hrs, and hard to come by during the work week. Our favorite place to park is the Century Field North Lot on Occidental, which is around $15 on non-event days. Or you can use this handy Downtown Parking map to find out which lots have space, and to see the lowest rates.

Members have been talking up Parking Whiz, a new app that gets you a reserved spot at a discounted rate -- sometimes even in secure hotel parking lots with valet service.

For the Pioneer Square Art Walk on first Thursdays, the Pioneer Square Alliance offers free parking in certain lots, as long as you get your parking stub validated in one of the excellent local galleries.

Coming to the Square on the weekends? If it’s not a game day, you’re in luck!  It’s mostly free street parking after 6pm on Saturdays and un-metered parking on Sundays.

By Car-Share:
With all the car share options available in Pioneer Square, your ride is mere minutes away. When you rack up a good rider rating, Uber will offer you flat rates between one route -- like work-and-home. Another big favorite, Lyft, doesn’t offer flat rates, but does have a rideshare option that can cut your costs in half.

Reach Now cars are easy to grab in the downtown core. Just sign-up on the app, check to see where your nearest car is, tap to gain entry and go! Done driving? Park at any legal street parking spot. No need to feed the meter -- Reach Now cars get a free pass! You can even take them to the airport and leave them at Wally Park, with a free airport shuttle.

By Bike:
Our bike room, showers, day lockers, and towel service make biking to work a breeze. Use Google Maps and click the bike icon to get a route that maximizes dedicated bike lanes through downtown.

Don’t have a bike or need to run errands faster than on foot once you’re downtown? Try one of the great bike rental services. Spin, Ofo, and Lime Bikes all offer on-demand rentals. You can try a ride for free, and most rent for $1-2 per hour. The app shows you where the bikes are located, and you can drop them off wherever your end your ride.  Lime bike even has some electric options -- handy for those Seattle hills!

By Transit:
Commuting by bus or train to Pioneer Square is a breeze! Several buses stop a few blocks away at 5th and Jackson -- where you can also find the LINK Light Rail station. The closest LINK station to tPC is the International District/Chinatown station, not the Pioneer Square station.  

Live on Capitol Hill? The Seattle Street Car is your go-to choice -- getting you from the hill to the square in just 18 minutes! Maybe you’ll even hop the Poetry on Busses street car, and be greeted with poems about the life-giving nature of water, collected at Pioneer Square’s very own 4Culture.

Not familiar with public transit? The Trip Planner from King CountyMetro makes planning your route a breeze. And apps like One Bus Away makes good use of GPS data to let you know your bus arrival in real time.

By Boat:
Live in West Seattle or one of the islands? Travel by ferry is one of the area’s most iconic ways to commute. Or you can hop on the West Seattle Water Taxi, which combines with a shuttle on the West Seattle side to get you where you need to go.

With all these options, it’s no wonder that only 10% of tPC members surveyed drive to work! Way to grow, Seattle!

 

tPC Member Spotlight - G. Willow Wilson

TPC member G. Willow Wilson is the author of books with and without pictures. From her memoir of life in Egypt, Butterfly Mosque, to her award winning graphic novels like Cairo and Air, Willow is known for introducing readers to stories and experiences that don’t often make the American spotlight. Right now she’s shaking-up the comic book scene with Ms. Marvel -- a series featuring a 16-year-old Muslim shapeshifter and superhero, Kamal Khan.

What's on tap at tPC this month

COFFEE

Elm Nine Swans

One of the things we love about our partnership with our neighbor Elm Coffee is that buying wholesale from Elm allows us to shop locally -- twice! Of course it lets us support a Pioneer Square neighbor. But Elm also ensures they understand their coffee from bean to cup. They travel and research extensively to make sure they know how their (our!) coffee is grown, harvested, and dried -- choosing environmentally friendly options from independent "local" growers every step of the way. 

TPC's house coffee is Elm's 9 Swans - a rotating varietal that changes with each harvest, but always hovers in the darkest-of-blondes category. Right now, 9 Swans is Mireya Trujillo. Mireya, her husband Jairo, and her cousin Yamison are all Colombian producers. Mireya’s coffee has deep grape/raisin, orange, and caramel flavors. Round and sweet, it is excellent both straight and with milk. 

BEER

Georgetown Bodizafa IPA

Georgetown brings quality and attention to detail to every beer they brew.  Whether it's their standards like Manny's Pale and Roger's Pilsner, or their unique, boundary pushing seasonals, I'm always pleased by anything that comes out of their brewery.  One of my favorite parts of the month is picking up our new keg and trying the new rotating beers in the tasting room.  This month we have one of their most popular beers on tap at tPC, the Bodizafa IPA

Here's a description directly from the source:

FOR BEER LOVERS

This IPA gets its light silky texture from rolled oats. The flavor and aroma both express mandarin and citrus all around. Over five pounds of hops per barrel makes this IPA truly Bodhilicious. Gold medal winner in the American Style IPA category at the Great American Beer Festival in 2016!

FOR BEER GEEKS

  • Malts - 2 Row Pale, Munich
  • Hops - Chinook, Citra, Mosaic, Columbus
  • Yeast - English Ale
  • OG - 1.059
  • TG - 1.008
  • ABV - 6.9%
  • IBU - 80
  • Best By - 90 days from packaging
  • Other - Oats

tPC Small Business Spotlight: Certain Standard

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In our last Small Business Spotlight, we featured menswear retailer, Division Road.  This time around, we explore the process of bringing a physical product to market with Certain Standard, a  Seattle based company that "believes in a higher standard of goods to equip you for a life less ordinary."  Certain Standard launched this year with a beautiful line of incredibly well-made umbrellas and will be releasing other quality products in the near future.  We caught up with Jason Sullivan, one of three founders, to learn more about the team, the company, and the launch process.

What’s the background of the founding team?

The best way to create something fresh is to come at it with fresh perspective. Well, we have that in spades given that none of us have a fashion pedigree.

Jason (Sullivan) spent 15+ years working at some of the world’s most successful advertising agencies on some of the world’s most famous brands. Most recently, he was Managing Director of Publicis Seattle, one of the industry’s most respected creative agencies.

Price (Eberts) started his career with a business intelligence startup before moving into more traditional management, brand, and technology consulting for big, blue-chip clients. Before Certain Standard, he was the COO of Conenza, a social networking technology company.

Clara (Mulligan) is a creative’s creative who is one of the most talented designers in the world. No joke. She’s owner her own branding firm, tinkered with her own fashion line, and has led the design discipline at some of the best agencies in the industry. She currently lives in London but still considers Seattle home.

 

What’s the mission behind Certain Standard

We don’t really get hung up on mission in the traditional sense, as much as we subscribe to a shared vision to raise the standard of the things we make and the way we behave as a brand. We make beautifully designed and incredibly well-made things that make people feel something. That’s why we’re maniacal on the design details. That’s why we’re sincere about the impact we make, and can make, on the world.

 

I can count the number of times I’ve opened an umbrella.  I’m also probably too old to wear wet clothes to work.  Can you convince Seattle locals to adopt the umbrella? 

We certainly think so. Who’s to say that umbrellas and Gore-Tex can’t coexist? We own ski jackets and rain coats. We also use umbrellas. For us, it’s all about style and making sure you don’t have to compromise it because of a little weather. You want to wear that leather jacket, but it’s raining. Try an umbrella. Don’t feel like wearing a jacket at all. Try an umbrella. Not sure if it’s going to rain and don’t want to carry a jacket? Try an umbrella. Hiking in the Ho rainforest? Even we say go with the rain coat.

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What is the giving program and how was it conceived?

Our giving program is simple. Simple, but focused. We wanted to support a couple organizations who are helping make the world a little brighter. The company you keep speaks volumes and we believe in putting that company out there. Not only that, we wanted to involve consumers by letting them choose which of our two partners their specific purchase supports. Our giving partners are Nest (buildanest.org) and Global Nomads Group (gng.org), two organizations that play in totally different arenas, yet share the goal of making our world a little brighter… better. Check them out when you get a chance.

 

There is something pleasing about watching a company do one thing and do it really well.  What does the future hold for CS?  Keep refining the umbrella offering, or add more products to the mix?

We’re an accessories brand. We’re starting with umbrellas but already have more products in the development pipeline. We’re thinking blankets as the next launch, but we’ll see. The art comes in finding the balance between diverse and fragmented.

 

Especially in Seattle, we hear mostly about people bringing digital products or services (e.g. coworking, restaurants) to market.  What are the unique challenges of bringing a physical consumer product from idea to the shelves?

In general, making physical stuff is hard. It just takes time. Time to find the partners. Time to source the materials. Time to make the parts that are used to make the actual product. Time to prototype. Time to change or even start over. Time to get it all over the world.

 

Our process was far more difficult and took far longer because we were creating something from scratch. We didn’t want an off-the-shelf solution. We wanted to create a new, better designed umbrella using materials and looks that were new to the industry – natural cork handles, powder coated shafts, proprietary tips, custom colors, etc. These things weren’t new to the world, but they were to the industry and that took some time to do and do right without compromise.

 

What’s your retail strategy?  Is the plan to follow in the footsteps of Warby Parker et al to use it as a showroom and marketing strategy, or do you expect to drive significant revenue at retail?

As much as we’d love to replicate the success of Warby Parker or Bonobos, those products are a bit different than ours in that fit is crucial part of the purchase. That said, we do subscribe to the showroom vs. traditional retail environment… at least for our branded store. We want it to be a place for people to interact with the brand vs. come to shop. Hang out talk a bit; and if you happen to buy something, then great.

 

As for strategy, we’ll continue to sell direct via our online storefront, and will be in other retailers soon – boutiques, department stores, and even some cool other nontraditional spots. In the end, it’s about the right retailers that fit our brand.

 Delivery truck

Delivery truck

 

When can we visit you at the retail showroom?  (3801 Stone Way N, Suite E)

 

Back to the whole things take time topic…, man, does it take forever to get into a new space. We hope to be in the new space and open in early June.

 

It’s easier than ever to serve highly tailored ads and find your target customer segment.  It also seems that there are a lot of well-made products launching every day.  For most of my existence online, I’d never clicked on a PPC ad.  Now I order products from podcast sponsors and buy $50 towels from Instagram.  With the proliferation of Shopify and small, quality consumer goods manufacturers, how do you separate yourself from the noise and compete for your piece of the disposable income pie?

 

Brand and Design.

Our backgrounds are in the brand marketing world, so we put a lot of stock into developing our own. What do we stand for? How do we behave? What’s our promise? It’s easy to copy a good product. It’s really hard to copy a good brand.

 

The other differentiator is design. It’s at the core of what we do. In fact, we’re as much a design company as we are an accessories company. We’re maniacal about the details that matter because great design is emotional. Our umbrellas should do more than keep you dry.

 

What has been the most rewarding part of launching this company?

Humility. Hands down. The amount of new stuff you learn, the process of moving from idea to application, and the pressure of controlling your own destiny, are all incredibly humbling.

 

What is the biggest mistake you made that you would never do again?

Assuming that you can make a great product in less than a year.

 

When you’re not working, your ideal day consists of ______?

To be honest, the good life is a lot of hanging out in the neighborhoods where we live. Going to shows and checking out new restaurants, walking dogs, and chasing kids. We’re all big into travelling, so maybe the ideal day is picking our way through an awesome new city on the other side of the world.

 

 

Coworking Simplified - Perfecting the tPC Member Experience

Since we opened the Pioneer Collective in 2015, we have attempted to learn from our customers, and refine our experience to meet demand.  We had zero experience running a shared workspace, but Audrey did an amazing job of forecasting back when the space was just a plan based on gut instincts and market research, but even she was surprised by some of the revenue streams that emerged, and some of our ideas that flopped.

the Pioneer Collective Conference

Initially, we borrowed from the LEAN startup methodology, test, listen, measure, adjust, repeat.  Essentially, if enough people requested a feature, product offering, or amenity, we would add it to the menu*.  We ended up adding an HD television display to our conference room (though we still dream of one day having a gadget free think-room), free La Croix to the beverage fridge, and 5 & 10 day membership options.  This strategy served us well in the early days, because it allowed us to find an audience (and revenue) while we searched for our audience.

After serious reflection, analysis, and debate, we've decided it's time to adjust our strategy to optimize our services and better serve our customers.  Starting in 2018, we will be moonlighting our Punchcard, Community 5, Community 10 and Team Pool memberships.  It's always tough to shut down a product that customers value, but ultimately we believe it's the best decision, both for our viability as a small business, our coworking members, and our awesome team of staff and community leads.

Coworking Streamlined:  Our New Membership Options

Starting in 2018, we've combined the best features of all our membership tiers into two, easy to understand offerings:

Community Membership - $225 per month

  • 8-6 M-F unlimited access to communal spaces
  • 500/500 Mbps High-speed fiber internet (Wireless)
  • 100 B&W prints per month
  • Fax/copy/scan
  • 3 hours conference room rental per month
  • Weekday access to showers, gym, bike storage
  • Full access to lounge area and kitchen
  • Phone booths and free long distance calls
  • Complimentary gourmet coffee & tea, beer and wine
  • 2 guest passes per month
  • Member social events and networking opportunities

Resident Membership - $475 per month

  • 24 hour / 7 day per week space access
  • Dedicated desk, Herman Miller office chair, task lamp
  • Drawer set, storage locker
  • 500/500 Mbps hard-line Ethernet data port & WiFi
  • 150 color prints per month, 300 B&W
  • Fax/copy/scan
  • 5 hours conference room rental per month
  • 24/7 private showers, bike storage, gym
  • Full access to lounge area and kitchen
  • Phone booths and free long distance calls
  • Complimentary gourmet coffee & tea, beer and wine
  • 3 guest passes per month
  • Member social events and networking opportunities
  • 25% discounted event space rental
  • Discounted rates for 6-month or 12-month prepay

The Rationale Behind the Change

As a small business operator, you are at a consistent disadvantage to your larger competitors when it comes to customer intelligence, data and technology.  Even if it is technologically feasible to collect data from all of your customers, your sample sizes are small and it's expensive and labor intensive to put those insights into action.  

When we started building out custom management software, rather than trying to beat our competitors at their own game, we decided to question assumptions we had long held and challenge the conventional wisdom in the industry.  

Early on, many prospective tPC customers asked for a flexible communal membership that allowed them to access the space 5 or 10 days per month.  Our 24/7 communal membership was priced rather high at around $325, so it made sense to introduce cheaper options to capture this part-time demand.  It worked in the short term, but it ultimately introduced a layer of complexity that became hard to manage once the program scaled, namely, how to keep track of and quantify use-days (e.g. if a member stops in for a 20 minute meeting, does that count as a day?  Do unused days rollover? etc.)

We started by trying to replicate what most white-label coworking SaaS apps did: allow users to check in when they use the space.  There are a few ways of doing this, including but not limited to RFID, WiFi authentication, iPad checkin, manual check-in, but what we found was that no matter what we implemented, these users were the least loyal, and the most likely to churn.  We'd essentially positioned the use of the space as a commodity and encouraged our customers to value time based on hours in the space, rather than how productive they were while they were here.  We were setting ourselves up to spend money and hours to engineer a solution for a customer segment that barely produced a positive ROI.

Questioning assumptions

I thought back to my time as a customer of coworking spaces in 2011.  People would often ask me, "why on earth would you spend hundreds of dollars a month on a desk when you can work from your kitchen table for free?"  I would always respond with some version of the following: "I spent a year working from my apartment and coffee shops, and the incremental work I can get done (or revenue I can generate) in the focused time I spend at my workspace, is worth thousands of dollars a month.  The value in my case is unquestionable."  In other words, we can all divide our time into $10 per hour work, $100 per hour work and $10,000 per hour work (those key hours of deep work each month which are responsible for a disproportionate amount of productivity, whether that is closing on a new contract, knocking out a writing assignments or meeting a contact that opens up an entirely new line of business).  We wanted to tap into that $10,000 per hour time and shift the focus back to output and away from hours.  In order to do that, we decided to eliminate all part-time memberships.  We also committed to lowering the price of our communal memberships to a level where two or three hours of focused output would justify the entire monthly cost for 90% of our customers.  And those for whom the math didn't add up probably weren't ideal coworking users to begin with, and would be better off at the kitchen table until they had more consistent cash flow. 

Members on the new Community Access plan can continue to use the space as little or as much as they need throughout the month, but they don't have to waste time counting days, and after they produce that single piece of high value deep work, the rest is gravy.  

We are aware that there is the potential for unintended consequences and blowback when implementing change.  While most part-time members were low LTV and high churn, some of our most loyal early adopters, joined at this tier.  We've already had to deny requests from past members looking to re-up on the old plans.  It's always tough to turn away revenue, but we're committed to seeing this experiment through.  Naturally, we grandfathered in any existing memberships and will continue to support them as long at tPC exists.  Moving forward though, we think the two membership tiers are the best product offering we can possibly put forward, and we're confident that they represent the best value in the Seattle coworking market. 

Time will tell, but so far revenue and loyalty are both up, and our software engineer and front desk staff are loving the elegance of the two-tier system.  We'll provide further updates at year-end.


Chris

 

*Requests to which we've never acquiesced include members bringing their own furniture, storing items in communal areas, or picking music.  It may sound dogmatic and/or pretentious, but we strongly believe that the physical space we inhabit contributes significantly to our well-being and productivity.  If a hundred people store boxes and personal items around the space and the music randomly oscillates between Charlie Parker and Kenny Chesney, it becomes very difficult to maintain a peaceful and inspiring environment.

December Membership Spotlight: Laura & Laura of Flying Crow Creative

 Photo by Lindsey Miller of lindseymillerphoto.com

Photo by Lindsey Miller of lindseymillerphoto.com

Laura and Laura are the founders of Flying Crow Creative, a branding and creative agency based in Seattle.  Laura Figueroa Ware (LW) is Principal and Head of Strategy & Content while Laura Urban Perry (LUP) is Head of Design & User Experience.  We caught up with the Lauras this month to discuss a variety of topics, including the state of marketing, design, and the city of Seattle.

LUP, you taught Web Design at Cornish and LW, you taught Business Storytelling and Brand Development at Georgetown.  Is that something you would like to do again?  

LW: Yes! I loved discussing marketing with professionals who were already practicing but wanted to expand their knowledge. I was terrified to teach, but I wanted to push myself to do something I’d never done before.

LUP:  I really enjoyed teaching at Cornish but it was a lot of work to do along side a freelance
design business. I’d think about it constantly. How to express the concepts behind
wayfinding and what elements make for compelling user experiences. But the number
one thing students wanted to learn was how to make things move.
I don’t think I’d teach again in a college setting.

Are there any skills you developed in those roles that have helped you with your day-to-day work or client interactions?

LW: I never realized how challenging it is to prepare curriculum. The experience gave me a whole new respect for teachers. In developing the coursework, I was able to think more in-depth about the theory behind marketing and storytelling and why certain things resonate with people. I love theory.

LUP:  People still love to see things move. Showing rather than telling always wins. Asking
questions to get to the real reason for their opinion, be it a student or a client, helps me
better explain why a solution works.

 

The tPC audience trends heavily toward entrepreneurs and freelancers, but also a number of remote workers who work for larger companies.  What are two things, positive and negative, most people don't realize until they've started their own business?

LW: If people thought too much about starting a business, no one would ever start one. For me the positives far outweigh the negatives. It can be tough not to have a steady salary to count on, or not having a staff to delegate to. But owning a business makes you grow in so many ways, such as managing business finances. My quality of life has improved because I control my schedule. And I feel much more comfortable following my instincts because at the end of the day, I answer to myself.

LUP:  One negative is how wonderful being paid while you’re not working is. Paid vacations
and sick days are a lovely thing. When you’re working for yourself, you’ve got to make
sure your HR person (you) works with your finance person (you) to set aside funds for
time off guilt-free to recharge. 

The big positive is being intentional about the work that you do, the product you create.
Your business is an expression of your life. It took me out of autopilot mode of a secure
job in tech into a more intentional creative mix of being actively engaged in my kids'
lives and designing my business. And I don’t miss unnecessary meetings, the office
politics and gossip.

On your website it says you know branding, graphic design, content strategy, web design and development, and communications planning.  How often does a client come to you looking for just a single service (e.g. migrating an old website to a responsive framework) and how often are you providing fully integrated strategy and creative services?  Do you prefer one approach to the other?

LW: More often than not, clients are looking for a single service. But that service (or tactic) may not be the answer to their problem. At Flying Crow, we like to spend time getting to know our clients and their business challenges, so that we can make the best recommendation for them about their brand and marketing efforts. For example, a business reached out to me last year to develop a marketing plan for them. But after learning more about their situation, I recommended brand perception research instead. It was a good move that gave them quite a bit of insight into what their clients are thinking.

LUP:  The integrated strategy is much preferred. Our added value is really understanding the full breadth of brand and marketing strategy as it is woven through every facet of a business. Helping our clients articulate and implement memorable creative throughout their business is really rewarding. We sometimes start with one project but often our questions lead our clients to consider a more comprehensive solution.

How has your trade changed since you began your career and what lessons and skills are just as important today as they were when you started out?

LW: The most significant changes have been rooted in technology. I remember working for an ad agency and having to Fed-Ex commercials to TV stations. Technology has forced marketers to be agile and to constantly be thinking about what’s next on the horizon. For example, social media has completely changed the way people interact with brands. In the past, the extent of our interaction was buying and using a product. Now people expect that brands will communicate with them, including addressing grievances in real-time. What does not change is the need to be a critical thinker and a problem solver. Good marketers are both analytical and creative, and they know when to let one supersede the other.

LUP:  I know the old ways. So if the internet broke, I could still design. The importance of a strong concept and meaning always wins over a polished generic idea. I love the craft of arranging information and ideas in ways that makes it clear. A good layout, white space and visual hierarchy are really important in web and UX work. And I still take time for excellent typography that people don’t see unless it’s not done.

 

As a small creative agency, I imagine you are constantly trying to balance the pressures of business development with the real deadlines and pressures of client work.  How do you juggle finding new business, servicing current clients and finding time to appreciate success and the little wins along the way?

 

LW: It is always good to have business in the pipeline, but my first priority is always our existing clients. They are already invested in Flying Crow as a partner, and I don’t want to let them down. It is important for business owners to make time for networking and business development, though. For better or worse, I evaluate wins and losses every day. It’s good to pat yourself and your team on the back when something goes well. You have to take the time to acknowledge a job well done rather than just jump the next thing that needs your attention. People need to know they’re appreciated.

LUP:  Client work always comes first. It gets the best part of my day. We get most of our work through referral so taking time to tend our network is important. Making personal connections is our best sales tool. Does going out for cocktails count as celebrating the successes along the way?

 


FILL IN THE BLANK!

 

A perfect weekend starts with _______ and ends with __________?

LW:  A perfect weekend starts with happy hour and ends with dinner and a movie or good book.
LUP:   A perfect weekend starts with a glass of wine on our rooftop deck with friends or a paddle in our kayak to our island cabin and ends with a nice home cooked meal with family.

 

_____ is totally underrated.

LW:  Sleep is totally underrated.
LUP:  Being totally disconnected from tech for a while is totally underrated.

 

_____is totally overrated.

LW:  Orange is the New Black is totally overrated.
LUP:  Snapchat is totally overrated.
orange-is-the-new-black-netflix.jpg

 

If I could eat any meal in the world, it would be _______ prepared by ______.

LW:  If I could eat any meal in the world, it would be Beef Stroganoff prepared by Albert Einstein.
LUP:  If I could eat any meal in the world, it would be Halibut prepared by David Beckham.
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If I got a surprise day off  tomorrow, I would _____.

LW:  If I got a surprise day off tomorrow, I would go shoe shopping
LUP:  If I got a surprise day off  tomorrow, I would pretend I was a guest at a downtown hotel, use their rooftop pool and then have lunch and write and sketch in the bar.

 


1:1 WITH LAURA URBAN PERRY

 

 Photo by Lindsey Miller of lindseymillerphoto.com

Photo by Lindsey Miller of lindseymillerphoto.com

It says on your bio that travel always resets your compass and fills you with new creative energy.  I feel the same way.  What is the most memorable trip you've taken and is there anywhere you find yourself returning to for inspiration?

LUP:  I won the parent lottery when I was a kid. My dad was a pilot for Pan Am. Do I have to pick one?

New Zealand fishing with my dad and brothers when I was a teenager.

Or...

Japan teaching art directors how to use Photoshop, Indesign when I was creative director for Adobe

Or...

Going to Spain and France with my husband and kids. We started in Madrid, then from Santiago de Compestela in the northwest corner to San Sebastian up to Paris to stay with a very dear friend and then to an island off the coast of France where her family had a summer place. We were there during the World Cup. In Spain when they were winning and then in France when they were in the semifinals. The whole city was crammed into the metro and the Champs Elysee chanting “Allez les Bleu.”

Though I haven’t returned in a long while, Japan is always inspiring. Everywhere you look things are artfully arranged and there’s plenty of the unexpected and odd to keep me laughing.

You were a creative director at Adobe.  Is there anything you miss about working for a large organization, for instance extensive financial and human resources?

LUP:  Budget for travel to conferences and being able to work with the design luminaries. I miss the team I pulled together, though we’ve stayed close over the years.

What tool, software or hardware, digital or analog, is most vital to your craft? (other than your computer)

LUP:  A printer. I know dead trees. I still like to print things and remove them from the distraction of the screen, get back from them and look at systems as a whole or a logo design from across the room.

And now the camera on my phone…for photographing inspiration.


1:1 WITH LAURA WARE

 

LW.png

What is the biggest mistake you see small companies and startups make when it comes to branding?

LW:  Understandably, they don’t have the resources to invest in marketing, so many of them don’t have a strategy. Then they realize they need a logo or website, so they ask their cousin Bill who worked at a print shop in 1987 to design one for them.

They want to sell a product or a service, but they don’t really know what they stand for, which is what branding is all about.


I see a lot of freelance and independent service providers ignoring marketing.  Designers, architects, and photographers seem to get it, but how should solo attorneys, engineers, and contractors approach branding and positioning?  

Many businesses, large and small, think marketing is a nice-to-have that you can build up to when you have excess cash, and that you can dispense with when times are lean. Marketing is, and should be, a key part of a business’ strategy. Through marketing, businesses learn about their audience, and formulate strategies for how to engage them. I would advise the professionals you mention to develop a business plan with growth goals clearly stated, determine how they need to shape and market their business to achieve those goals, and define what makes them different than others that offer the same services. These businesses likely obtain many clients through referral. But referrers have to understand who you are and what you do.

 

You grew up in Texas at attended UT.  What do you miss the most about the Lone Star State?  If you had to leave the PNW tomorrow, what would you miss the most about this region?

LW:  There is an unexplainable pride that comes with being a Texan. It’s in your blood. I miss my family and friends quite a bit. I also miss good Tex-Mex, BBQ and frozen margaritas. If I had to leave Seattle, I would greatly miss the friends and family I have here. I’d miss the incredible beauty of the area. And I’d miss having four seasons, which allows me to have a much broader wardrobe.