After searching for a co-working space that suited her and not finding one that was an ideal fit, Lucy Chen, a Sydney-based user experience designer, did what any good entrepreneur would and started her own. WhatSpace is a warehouse that Chen has fitted out to host startups, IT and creative professionals, as well as events such as exhibitions.
WhatSpace, located in Marrickville, entered a soft launch earlier this year. Chen says she was eager for a co-working space where "there's more room to think" and that has the right balance between work and recreation.
"I worked a lot from home from cafes, from people's houses, tried to work in parks as other co-working spaces and I just found that none of them had the right setup the right situation for the work I was doing," Chen says. "I was talking to a lot of people about it and there was a similar type of response. What people wanted was a place to work that had all facilities they wanted in a convenient location where there are other things to do aside from sit at your desk and slave away at your computer."
Chen looked around for the right space for a new co-working facility. "I looked in all types of places. Surry Hills, Newtown; in the inner-west primarily," she says. "There was a massive lack of good spaces in the inner-west, and a lot of creative types are spreading out from the city now. It just made sense to have a place to work that's close to home and not in the middle of the city where it's hustle-bustle and you can't find parking and a whole bunch of other issues."
She has several people working out of the building now, and doesn't want WhatSpace to become too crowded. "I think you can fit about 20 people easily. I think I'll probably pick a number around 15 or so for now and see how it goes… I've built in a lot of opportunities for people to tell me what they want out of this space; it's not just about I have a vision I want to make it reality, it's about what other people's needs are.
"So if I find people want to keep it sparse, I'll do that. If people want more energy from more people then we'll do that as well. I think I want to keep it about 15 to 20 for the moment and then have that potential to grow if it feels right."
Tenants are charged $100 a week for use of WhatSpace, including internet and access to facilities. WhatSpace is holding an open house launch party on 17 March and is located on the top floor at 53 Sydenham Road, Marrickville, Sydney.
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