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    Saturday, March 6, 2010

    Indy Hall, Coworking Space in Philadelphia, PA

    Just one block from Christ Church and situated in the upscale neighborhood of Old City, Philadelphia, amidst outdoor cafes and coffee shops, I squeeze my large New Englander we-get-more-snow-than-you (except for D.C. this winter) SUV into a parallel parking space between a Bentley and a beater 1970s hulking Chevy. Philly is interesting in that way; from block-to-block, neighborhoods change fast. Just this morning, Far McKon, Maggie and I engaged a stranger in a conversation of whether the Satellite Coffee Shop is in West Philly or South West Philly—the locals decided upon the latter by 50 ft.

    I’m dropping in on the Indy Hall crowd this afternoon right after departing the Hive 76 hacker space. On the second floor of a loft space, I exit the elevator to a large sign painted on the wall, “Independents Hall”. However, this is not the Independence Hall where our Nation was planned just a few blocks away, but this one is where startup companies are being planned, developed, and grown into companies.

    On a Saturday afternoon, Indy Hall’s conference room hosts a cluster of about eight men sitting at desks arranged in a coworking circle. Their mission: to get Google to bring Google Fiber to Philly. Fast at work talking and typing on their computers, Alex @alexknowshtml, co-founder of Indy Hall, took time out to give me a tour.

    Indy Hall’s furniture consists of modern IKEA individual desks, but all desks are arranged in clusters where developers can work side-by-side with their coworkers and with other entrepreneurs who choose a group working environment over renting an office in solitude. When asked about the arrangement of the desk and the permanence of a few of the work stations, Alex said, “Every 4-6 months, we move everything around just to keep things new. Sitting in the same place breeds complacency; when you’re running a start-up company, mixing it up keeps ideas new".

    The idea of a modular set of individual desks was clever. Just when you get used to the same coder or social media mogul sitting next to you every day, you may have a biologist or a hardware architect next to you tomorrow. According to the philosophy of Indy Hall, taking down walled barriers and moving around spreads ideas, intrigue and innovation.

    I asked questions about usual organizational management: about $275-400/month for full-timers, less for part-timers, and there is a $25/day drop-in membership for out-of-towners or people who just want to drift through when they feel like it. Between the murals on the walls, the hang-out area with couches, glass tanks containing a rat and a turtle (respectively), video game consoles, and large pillows to sit on the floor, this was a fantastic co-working space in which the organizers have given obvious attention to the flow of ideas and co-working camaraderie in a dynamic business environment in which old ideas of managing companies and intellectual property are becoming stagnant. This coworking space keeps it fresh.


    Alex Hillman said...

    Hey Tiffany,

    So glad you stopped by! Just a few notes:

    Semantically, coworking doesn't have a hyphen. It's silly, I know, but lingo is important! We still fight to get journalists and editors to leave out that pesky hyphen. :)

    Also, e're Independents Hall, not Independence Hall. You know, like a hall of independents, although our membership isn't 100% independents anymore!

    You nailed our "shake things up model", but we don't change every month...just every 4-6. Every month would probably be too much.

    And our memberships start at $275, not closer to $400.

    Thanks again for the visit, the writeup, and I look forward to hearing about your venture when it opens!

    Tiffany Strauchs Rad said...


    Thanks for the comments. I made the requisite changes. I loved the Independents vs Independence and recognize that was a typo that had to be corrected. What's funny is that when I was trying to navigate there using Google maps and their voice recognition software, it kept trying to route me to the "dence" hall. It refused Independents. Google or a mispronunciation? ; )