But for a little more than $100 a month, Long Beach residents can develop their start-up, network with like-minded people and relax with a game of ping-pong -- all under the same roof.
The number of go-it-alone entrepreneurs and freelancers in California leaving their apartments and cafes and settling into "co-working" spaces is growing, and WE Labs is believed to be the first such space in Long Beach.
WE Labs, which opened its doors Nov. 1, provides a laid back but professional environment that offers the opportunity for entrepreneurs to mingle and network with their own kind. It is a space that brings motivated people together, according to founder Markus Manley.
He said WE Labs combines the social elements of a coffee house and the functional elements of a workspace so that independent entrepreneurs can be productive, and inspire and collaborate with one another.
"WE labs is not just a place for people to come to work," Manley said. "It's where independent business owners come to be a part of a community."
The 5,500-square-foot space at 105 W. Broadway has more than 20 desks, high-speed internet, a members lounge, a kitchen, a conference room, a project studio and many other amenities.
Co-working spaces are shared offices where once-isolated creative professionals can rent desks, use office supplies and drink free coffee alongside others like themselves. The central idea is not just to keep people out of coffee shops and home offices, but also to foster a collaborative environment where ideas can be shared, networking happens daily and members from a wide range of practices and industries can learn from one another, Manley said.
"This is not a place about office space, as much as it is about creating a social network of creators in the city of Long Beach," he said. "People can be sustainable within the city of Long Beach -- the resources, the creative minds, it is all here."
Manley, who moved to Long Beach from Los Angeles nearly 14 years ago, said he got his degree from the school of "hard-knocks." He has had several stints, working as everything from a hacker to a magazine publisher, to a fashion designer to a rave promoter.
Manley said he has always put himself in creative and collaborative situations, and that now he has finally found his calling.
"This is my dream coming true," he said. "I've always been about the collaborative process and surrounding myself with other creatives, and this has allowed me to do just that. I couldn't be happier."
Manley, along with co-founder Robbie Brown, said that the hardest part about starting a business is resourcing. Brown said having a true creative center, somewhere that people can bounce ideas off each other and network is key to survival.
"In Long Beach, until WE Labs, there hasn't been a hub for creativity," Brown said. "Long Beach has no shortage of creative people, and that is amazing, but what was needed was a place where driven individuals can surround each other, inspire each other and help each other."
Thought to have first started in San Francisco in 2005 with Citizen Space, co-working spaces are now widespread in the United States and Europe and are making headway in Asia, courting mostly people in their 20s and 30s working on projects alone or in small teams.
There are now dozens of such places in Los Angeles.
The cost of using WE Labs ranges from $35 for a day pass, to over $600 per month for a dedicated desk. WE Labs also offers everything from hourly, daily and weekly packages.
WE Labs touches all the hallmarks that make co-working an attractive alternative to sitting in a coffee shop with a laptop, the founders said: The space is open, desks equipped with power outlets are meant for sharing, members each get their own locker, and enclosed meeting rooms provide privacy when needed.
In addition there are workshops and seminars that assist in opening a business and obtaining licenses, among other topics.
Brown said the WE Labs concept seems perfectly at home in community-driven Long Beach, where some of the city's best events are the result of collaboration between driven locals.
"This culture is dependent on people working together, collaboration, networking," Brown said.
Manley added that, "Everyone who comes here is doing something creative. This is a brain trust, a collective, an incubator of ideas -- this is a space that allows someone to come in and meet people and turn their idea into action. Everyone is here for the same reasons."
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