DC Region Coworking Panel

The Eastern Foundry Coworking Panel was the first event of its kind for the incubator/accelerator and was held live on Eastern Foundry’s Facebook feed on February 1. The roundtable, with 700 views on Facebook and Periscope combined, was hosted by Wingate Hughes’ co-founding principal Gavin Bowie and featured expert advice from thought leaders in the office design, coworking and business fields. The event also showcased a virtual tour of Eastern Foundry’s new Rosslyn location, designed by Wingate Hughes.

The panelists included: Andrew Chang,  co-founder and managing partner of Eastern Foundry, Andy O’Brien, senior vice president, JLL Washington, DC, Mike LaRosa, founder and publisher of Coworkaholic Omnimedia, and Amina Elgouacem, founder, president, and CEO of NEOSTEK, Inc.

Gavin Bowie asked each panelist a series of questions covering topics like the benefits of coworking, how to brand your space, finding your coworking style and operating more effectively in a shared environment.

Chang gave insight on what Eastern Foundry offers in addition to traditional coworking benefits. He said, “Coworking spaces around the country cater to entrepreneurs. We cater directly to government contracting companies whether they’re a startup, midsize, or large company … It’s a unique model and at the end of the day we have one end goal which is help companies sell their product and services to the federal government.”

Elgouacem is a member of Eastern Foundry and manages Neostek’s diverse technology platform that provides expertise in the design, development, and deployment of mission-critical systems at the Departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security, and the Library of Congress. She shared how important it is to have a coworking space that matches your community needs. She added, “We see Eastern Foundry as a program and platform for small businesses to grow. Eastern Foundry gave Neostek that push and exposure to the GSA to teach us what we need to do in government contracting.”

LaRosa agreed and elaborated on key advice entrepreneurs should consider when looking for the right coworking space. Recounting his search for the Coworkaholics.com coworking office he said,“The main thing to keep in mind when thinking about a coworking space is people want to be safe and be productive. So, for me, an open space works fine. Other people do better in closed offices.” He continued, “I think the best way to make a coworking space work for you is to find the location or the space that has a nice blend. You have your areas for collaboration, your areas for focus, and most importantly you’ve got your phone booth or quiet space where you’re not disrupting others.” Bowie added how relevant this balance is for Wingate Hughes when working with coworking clients to create ideal shared spaces.

O’Brien, in addition to his work in representing the interests of tenants, is also the co-founder of HiRise, an online transactional marketplace for owners and occupiers that powers business growth using a deconstructed approach to the traditional leasing process. He discussed the initial steps business owners should take when first looking in the coworking market. “Look at the industry you are targeting,” said O’Brien. “If it’s a government contract, and you’re trying to do work for the government, I would go to a place like Eastern Foundry. That’s the first step.” O’Brien thinks the commercial real estate industry as a whole is now marketing better to varying coworking needs, especially with websites like highrise.com and the variety of coworking spaces now available.

After the panel discussion, Bowie took questions from the Facebook Live viewers. One audience member asked, “How do I know if I’m ready for coworking?” LaRosa responded, “If you own your own business, you are ready for coworking. Even if you don’t own your own business, but you’re hustling, you are ready for coworking. It’s a global phenomenon and is happening everywhere like Indonesia, Bali, and South Africa. It’s never too early to start.”

You can watch the full LIVE discussion on Periscope or on Eastern Foundry’s Facebook page located here. Feel welcome to provide feedback in the comments!