After being ousted from their original location at the Dr. Rowan Building last month, Long Beach's first co-working office WE Labs has launched a short IndieGoGo campaign (that ends Monday at 11:59PM!) in the hopes that their next residence will be the 8th floor at the Pacific Southwest Building at Broadway and Long Beach Blvd.
Started in September of last year, founder Markus Manley and his previous investor wanted to create something new in Long Beach: mainly an open, communal space where people could rent desk spaces, offices and cubicles either by the day, week or month.
Though modeled after similar co-working and collaboratve work spaces in San Francisco, New York and L.A., WE Labs grew into a uniquely Long Beach space full of not just freelance professionals avoiding a day at the coffeeshop, but also artists, creatives and other young small businesses owners who were using the space as a silkscreening facility, a recording studio and an event space for everything from poetry nights to hackathons.
Manley says that within the second month of opening its doors, WE Labs lost an investor and his work became overwhelming. And soon enough, the high-volume request for larger spaces and private offices made the Rowan space unbefitting for WE Labs.
In addition, Manley pointed out, not being able to provide service to members that needed to work while the organization was hosting its many open events and workshops only added to the overall frustration.
The proposed WE Labs space
"All of these were signs that a differently structured space was needed in order to meet our members demands," Manley told the Post.
After attempting negotiations with the landlord, WE Labs was ultimately unable to reach an agreement and so the organization took the penalty-free opt-out of Rowan they were offered. They had to leave immediately. And so in one day, WE Labs moved all of its members out of their signature Pine Ave. spot and into a temporary warehouse workspace at MADHaus off of Pacific and 6th St.
"Like most new concept small businesses, a true startup is all about learning what works and doesn’t work and actually surviving past the learning stage," Manley said. "In many ways the concept of WE Labs is what has helped us make it this far. We've gotten a lot of advice, help, and support from the community of members that we’ve already built within WE Labs and are implementing many new things."
One of those new things is the hope of filling the 8th floor of the Pacific Southwest Building, which has ample space for private offices, collaborative work desks and events. Manley hopes the new space will be a better incubator for small businesses and so far, the group has raised around $7000 through its Indiegogo campaign--a far cry from the $50,000 goal, but an amount they will get to keep through the website's crowdfunding structure.
"WE Labs is a viable business if configured correctly," Manley said. "[We want to] support the demand for private office space as well as the lower-cost communal workspace desk. Our IndieGoGo campaign is directed at funding the startup capital required to move into a ready-to-go space that we’ve already identified and is very close to our original location."
The campaign was launched last week with a short, five-day span in order to facilitate a quick move into the new space. It is in its final hours today and there are generous reward packages like a free year of membership and more.
To donate to WE Labs' IndieGoGo campaign, click here. For more information about WE Labs and to see more photos of the new space, find them on Facebook. Full disclosure: Long Beach Post rented office space for several months at the original WE Labs on Pine Ave.