For the entrepreneur, the telecommuter, and the independent worker, few things can be more stifling to productivity than working at home, where distractions and excuses to procrastinate abound. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand the growing popularity of coworking spaces, where people can go to focus independently or collaborate within a working mindset.
With the Midwest’s growing Silicon Prairie creating more and more independent work, Andy Beecham, Bob Hinrichs, and Matt Westenburg saw the possibility for such a space in Lincoln, Nebraska. Hence, they founded FUSE. Check out our photo essay below to find out how to create a space people actually want to go work in.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then FUSE was born from a need that Andy, Matt, and Bob were separately experiencing. Andy and Bob are both Lincoln natives who left the city then returned years later with software expertise and a desire to raise their families with all the quality of life benefits a community like Lincoln has to offer. They were also both independent/remote workers who wanted space to operate outside their homes. Meanwhile, Matt is a CPA who worked with many Lincoln startups and who had saw firsthand their need for space. And, in a final coincidence, they all started researching coworking spaces around the same time that they met.
Andy, Matt, and Bob all sat down together for the first time in August of 2011 to discuss a mutual interest in coworking. The “Three Amigos of Coworking” clicked as potential co-founders and immediately decided to form a project leading to the creation of a coworking community. They began holding coworking events around Lincoln in coffee shops starting in December 2011, spreading the word via a Facebook page, and locating early adopters to the movement who would eventually become their first members. In September 2012, they found the ideal space, designed it and built it out, and FUSE opened in January 2013.
Since opening its doors, FUSE has attracted what Bob describes as a “hodgepodge” of small businesses, remote workers, independent contractors, and “solopreneurs,” all eager to utilize the space either for focus or collaboration. Andy admits to not having too much experience with startup culture but sees how FUSE has helped many fledgling companies, not just by providing them with a desk and a chair, but by providing them with a community that can deliver additional resources along with a nurturing atmosphere. As result, new companies have formed simply because individuals have had the opportunity to be within each others’ proximities.
FUSE offers four different tiers of memberships with varying prices ranging from a daily rate for occasional drop-ins to monthly rates for a dedicated 4-person office. This way, they can accommodate workers and businesses with a wide breadth of needs. And while there is a natural, welcome turnover – if a small business or startup finds success, they may find their own workspace – FUSE’s popularity has grown to the point where they’ve recently moved into a new 15,000 square foot space, more than twice the size of the original. This will allow them to increase from a membership base of 35 up to over 100.
In designing FUSE, they knew they wanted it to be more than just couches and card tables. The space is configured to represent the kind of premium work environment one finds at a high-end tech or start-up company, with a loft gallery feel.
With the continuous growth of independent workers and the “gig economy,” which some studies project will encompass 40 percent of the work force by 2020, the influx of people to FUSE shows no signs of slowing down. Though, as Bob says, running a coworking space is not a moneymaking scheme, “It’s a project that enhances a community.” He says they want to contribute to Lincoln being a place that overstretched New Yorkers or San Franciscans might see as a reasonable alternative for their careers and families – with good people, a great quality of life, and fantastic places to work.
To learn more about FUSE, visit their website here.