Whether a small, medium or large business, offices have played a vital role where and how work gets done. It’s a natural place for teams to collaborate in a more formal environment and provides an opportunity for individuals to exchange ideas, and to some extent, socialize in a more structured situation.
With the advent of technology, increased demands of business and desire for work-life balance, people and offices are now becoming more independent and mobile.
While many entrepreneurs have “home offices”, others will spend time at coffee houses and/or other locations where wi-fi, for example, is available. However, in recent years, co-sharing space has grown in popularity. Why? Many small business owners work independently and have the need to share ideas with others and, co-sharing space allows individuals to do so.
I recently interviewed David Anderson, Co-Founder, Bamboo Detroit, for his thoughts on co-sharing and its benefits for entrepreneurs.
Lee: Please tell us about yourself, Bamboo Detroit and why did you decide to start a business?
Bamboo Detroit got started because we were working independently on our own businesses and wanted a space to collaborate. We knew other entrepreneurs were in need of this space too. I was working full time at Bosche but wanted to start a business, Brian Davis and Mike Ferlito were working in real estate, and Amanda Lewan was working as an independent writer and marketer. We’ve now grown to almost 80 members who located their businesses in Downtown Detroit.
Lee: You have an interesting story on deciding to start Bamboo Detroit while walking downtown one night. Please share it.
Anderson: One night Brian and I were walking around Downtown Detroit discussing ideas and what we could do for Detroit. I had wanted to open a co-working space for a while and asked Brian to join. Then, it just hit us at the right place and time when we passed 1442 Brush Street and realized Mike Ferlito’s family owned the building and had a vacant floor. We agreed to the idea and the co-working space opened up to the public a couple months later. Looking back, we see it as an example of our “Detroit is for Doers” mantra. If you have a business idea, talk to customers and get started. There’s no time like the present.
Lee: What is Bamboo Detroit and what services do you provide?
Anderson: Bamboo Detroit is a community of entrepreneurs and creatives. We provide 24/7 shared office space in a collaborative environment with a mailing address, wi-fi, coffee, workshops and events. We also provide branding services to local businesses in the area.
Lee: Where does the name–Bamboo–come from?
Anderson: When I was in college, I read that the Bamboo plant was one of the fastest growing and strongest plants in the world. When it came to naming the space, Bamboo Detroit was born. The name inspires others to like the plant establish a strong and growing business in the city of Detroit.
Lee: Starting out, what challenges have you had to overcome and where do you see Bamboo in 3-5 years?
Anderson: We did start off with the immediate challenge of upgrading our internet. We never thought this would be in an issue in the Downtown Detroit area, but it was. Major providers wouldn’t give us a quote or contact us back for months. The customer service experience was horrible. We were growing fast and members were working off of hot spots. Not getting a major internet provider to service us almost killed our small business. Eventually, we were able to get fast internet to the building.
Bamboo Detroit is expanding this year to create an entrepreneurial hub that will provide private, dedicated, and open co-working and additional services to entrepreneurs. We are very diverse community, with around 30% of our members female entrepreneurs, 40% non-white, and have become a destination for those traveling into the city. We will be providing more resources and services to all entrepreneurs, and continue to be an open and inclusive place for Detroit.
We are aiming to expand our entrepreneurial hub to other markets around the US, provide co-working communities, marketing and branding services, technology development, and funding options. The co-working space market is very large and still rather new. Our competitors like WeWork are valued at four billion. We believe that co-working is the choice for the modern worker, and our other services can help entrepreneurs get started all over the world. We’re also disrupting this approach by providing new services that better connect and serve our already thriving community – like our agency Bamboo Imagine which helps provide work to creatives inside our space.
Lee: Co-sharing seems to have grown recently. Why?
Anderson: Co-working is ideal for what we call the modern worker. There are over 30 million people in the US who work remotely and can be more productive having the option to co-work. A lot of workers can work at home now that they have access to laptops and other technologies. Co-working is a prime choice for an entrepreneur. When you are starting a business you can’t always afford an office space, so co-working gets you the professional meeting and work space you need and access to resources and support.
Lee: What are the benefits of to those using co-sharing space versus going to a coffee shop, for example?
Anderson: A coffee shop can’t meet all of your professional needs. Often, an entrepreneur will need to have private meetings or larger meeting spaces.
Lee: Finally, what are your thoughts on Rocket Fiber, the high-speed internet service being planned downtown?
Anderson: We can’t wait to sign up for Rocket Fiber. We know that having a 1 gig of internet will help speed up innovation in the Detroit area. Some of our companies are working to disrupt the music industry or provide creatives services, and they’ll be able to upload and download files so much faster. Having fast internet access will attract even more entrepreneurs to move to Detroit and start their business here.
Lee: Where is Bamboo Detroit located? Contact information.
Anderson: We’re located at 1442 brush street on Floor two-just two blocks away from Campus Martius. You can contact us anytime at info@bamboodetroit, and apply online at Bamboodetroit.com/apply. We’re happy to schedule tours and we’re always hosting great community events, so come by anytime.