NextSpace, a network of coworking spaces in Northern and Southern California, has raised $825,000 in new funding.
Co-founder and CEO Jeremy Neuner said the first NextSpace location opened back in 2008, in Santa Cruz (where Neuner is a former economic manager and his co-founder Ryan Coonerty is a former mayor). It has now expanded to six locations, including two in San Francisco. The plan is to add two or three more this year — judging from the NextSpace website, the next location will be in Berkeley.
In the four-plus years since NextSpace launched, it seems like the coworking concept has really taken off, at least judging from the new spaces that I keep walking past in San Francisco. Neuner acknowledged that many different spaces are offering many different flavors of coworking (“the great thing about the early stage of any sort of new industry is it’s defined by however we want to define it”), but he said NextSpace has a couple of big differentiators. First, there’s an emphasis on community, specifically in helping members connect — both within a given location and also across the larger NextSpace network — in ways that help their businesses.
“We really, really work hard to make membership in the community our main product, as opposed to, ‘Hey, I want to rent a desk from you,'” Neuner said. “The space is necessary but not sufficient.”
In fact, he said one of his main goals for 2013 is to take that idea a step further and allow people to join the community without having to rent a desk — or, as he described it, “with little or no impact or use of the actual space.” He said this as “an interesting problem to solve,” so it sounds like the details are still being figured out.
The second difference: Neuner said NextSpace has always been focused on coworking, as opposed to being a company in another business that started renting out desks to fill extra office space and calling it a coworking community.
Neuner said the company has now raised a total of $ 1.7 million from assorted angel investors, friends, and family. NextSpace is also announcing that David Gensler, executive director of global design firm Gensler, has joined its board.