Chicago-based Lightbank, the VC firm started by Groupon investors Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, is launching a new co-working space at 600 W. Chicago Avenue today, called The Warehouse.
The Warehouse will be located within Lightbank’s office space and offers anyone who is starting a company the ability to rent one desk or more for around $300 per month. The agreement is month to month, and allows for a designated desk with access to a phone, high-speed WiFi, printers, copiers, fax machines, conference rooms, and more. Coworkers in The Warehouse will also be able to access some of the perks that Lightbank employees get, such as shuttles to public transportation in Chicago and discounted gym memberships.
Co-workers will also have access to partners and employees at Lightbank, who will host on-site office hours, events with noted speakers and happy hours in The Warehouse. We’re told that the The Warehouse will be open to more than 100 members, and the application process begins Nov. 21. Companies outside of Chicagoland can apply to work in The Warehouse, and selected startups will receive three months free rent for relocating.
Keywell tells us that the vision for the space is to bring together startups, designers, programmers, and give back to the Chicago tech ecosystem. Part of this is giving technical talent an environment to work in that is productive and gives a feeling of a community. While these startups and founders will work alongside the Lightbank portfolio and investment team, it’s less about Lightbank and more about creating a community, and provide another place to foster innovation and new ideas within the city of Chicagohe adds.
There are a few other coworking spaces in the area, including 1871, but Lightbank believes there’s room for many more. For basis of comparison, 1871 offers plans of $250 per month and $400 per month for its coworking space.
Lightbank isn’t the first VC to offer co-working space–many VCs have been doing this informally for years with founders and entrepreneurs in their networks. While it does create a sense of community, and is a way for VCs to give back to founders (especially if they offer the space for free); it’s also a way for VCs to expand their network of founders (and potential deals).
Disclosure: Lightbank is an investor in my husband’s startup, which is in stealth.