In this day and age, with the ubiquity of WiFi, tablets, smartphones, and laptops, we live in a highly connected and increasingly mobile world. Though many people make daily commutes to the office, the truth is that many can still do their jobs while working remotely, be it from home, from the road, or from the local library or coffee shop. Of course, having a quiet place to be productive (answer email) is welcome and, if that space is shared by those in similar professions, it can be a great opportunity to network and make connections.
The problem is, for those who work far from company headquarters, or in a startup or small business, finding cool, local office space can be tricky. It is for this reason that Campbell McKellar and team created Loosecubes, a community marketplace for workspace that connects people who have great workspace with those who need it.
Loosecubes aims to bring the many online connections we cultivate on a daily basis into the real world, during business hours, by enabling wayfaring professionals to find awesome shared workspace. Founded in 2010, Loosecubes offers, at least superficially, a similar service to Liquidspace. But Loosecubes takes a more social, or person-to-person approach to finding shared office space. As McKellar says, “it’s about so much more than finding a desk”, it’s about finding available office space offered by people with interests (and professions) that are similar to your own.
The startup is broadly launching a public redesign today, though it will remain in public beta, to build off the traction it received at SxSW this year with its Instant Jelly app, which allowed conference-goers to create spontaneous co-working events with people of similar professions.
So, in order to create a more personalized marketplace for shared office space, Loosecubes is launching some cool new functionality today that includes “Recommended Spaces”, in which the startup will tap into your social graph (via Facebook Connect) to recommend office space based on your friends, location, and line of work.
Loosecubes also enables “Hosts”, or those with office space to rent and share, to post office space for free and to invite coworkers or friends to come share the office space. Hosts can specify which type of professionals they’d like to host, like entrepreneurs, developers, investors, etc., as well as including pictures of the office space, location, and so on. (Beware of hosting bloggers, though, they will drink all your coffee and slow your WiFi to a crawl.)
And for those looking for space rather than looking to host, Loosecubes provides search functionality, in which users can look for coworking space by city, address, or zip. Once users find space they’re interested in, they can message the host and work out the terms of their new professional coworking relationship. Users can specify on their profiles, or in messages to their hosts, whether they’re looking for office space for the day or for a month, Loosecubes doesn’t limit these requests by duration — it’s up to the respective parties to decide.
In terms of pricing, Loosecubes members who are invited to cowork receive special deals on a space when they’re invited, in order to incentivize you office-space-hunters to join the Loosecubes network. What’s more, the Airbnb for office space lets users pay online for office space. The startup charges a 10 percent transaction fee, because even though they’re backed by Accel and Battery Ventures for $1.23 million, they need to make money somehow. For the first 60 days, however, Loosecubes will be waiving that 10 percent transaction, so if you want to avoid the surcharges, sign up now.
Host offices decide how much to charge, but Loosecubes encourages those hosting office space to include printing, scanning, faxing, phone, etc. in the price so that you’re not met with additional charges. But, in the end, Loosecubes just provides the marketplace, the sellers decide the terms. Once Loosecubes comes out of public beta, it will likely begin charging for listings, but until then it’s free to list and use.
Airbnb, Hotel Tonight, Hurricane Party, BatchBlue, and SnapGoods are among the startups already offering office space on Loosecubes. Other office space of not includes Rickshaw Bags headquarters, Red Paper Clip, Platform4 in Denmark, and Society M in Glasgow.
All in all, Loosecubes’ new design looks fantastic, and search is much improved, though I’m still waiting for mobile apps. The New York City-based startup is getting some good buzz right now, so check ’em out and let us know if you’ll be joining in or opting out.