02 Sep DSX Labs & Finding Tech Community Space in Boca Raton
We Need An Office
Over the past 12 weeks I co-lead a group of tech community members in Boca Raton to develop a new tech shared space called DSX Labs, located inside The Greenhouse building at 5301 North Federal Highway in Boca Raton, Florida. We moved into our space in July and next week, September will be our 2 month anniversary. We will be having an opening event on October 15th, 2014.
My Understanding Of Spaces
A tech space movement has been going on for several years around the country, including here in Florida, but Boca Raton has had it’s challenges and most recently it’s successes in these kinds of spaces. There are really several classifications of these kinds of tech spaces between co-working, incubator or accelerator. The first most basic tech space is called co-working, which is a bunch of people who pay for a desk, couch or working at a tables typically. This is not the same thing as executive suites, mostly because executives suites usually have all the people in offices, while co-working is meant to be collaborative and it costs a lot less than an office. The second space, an incubator, in our area, tends to be associated with a non-profit or university. The basics are the companies pay for office space and they tend to get some help from the incubator on direction, pitches, etc. The accelerator, which came from Y-combinator and eventually Tech Stars is a specific curriculum combined with space, and often the owners put up some capital, so they are actually investors as well as mentors.
The Next Question Is Why?
A lot of us, working independently, have tried to work at home, Starbucks or the libraries. We need to be more professional with clients that are developing serious web and mobile applications for instance There is a limit to how many times you can meet with clients at Starbucks and Panera Bread. I have been working out of the house for the past 6 months. Just imagine when my 4 year came running into a conference call and yelled “I have to go Potty!” There is a tech community in South Florida, and specifically in Boca Raton, worth interacting with. These are the guys you want to be around and you meet up with, hopefully learn from and hopefully get some business or job with. We had some fun at Caffeine Spaces last year, which was the real deal for tech community and shared space, but even within that space we had some issues with getting conference room time, finding space to be professional within. It was great at the time though. I am sure there are a dozen other reasons why we need an office. Probably the top one is getting stuff done for me.
So, I had set out about 5 months ago to look over a bunch of office spaces within Boca Raton. Some were down the street, some were over at the beach, some were on route 1. But like the three little piggies, some were too big, some were too expensive and some were just right. It is not an easy proposition to find space for technology companies in Boca Raton, though by my estimate there are something like 300+ IT related corporations within the city/town and probably about 50 or so techie or web related start-ups. And there has to be another 2,000 work at home techies in this area as well. I say techie loosely because I am considering SEO, online marketing and other web related firms as somewhat techie for these purposes. The question is how many work from home…
We can complain all we want about the fact that half the Boca Raton commercial real estate is empty, mainly because building owners want to rent spaces at no less than 5k square feet and no less than $20 a square foot to 40,000 square foot tenants. And why not? That is some serious rent. The fact that most of the smaller spaces are either very expensive or dark and dank is another issue. Expensive to a start-up is more than $500 a month rent. And Boca Raton was not built for that. Unlike Delray Beach, West Palm and the City of Miami, Boca Raton does not have an big old downtown with run down buildings we can easily cut up and move into. Boca Raton is really a suburban sprawl, evolving into a city still. If you would consider Mizner Park a city… well you get the point.
Tech Ground Zero
So, it happened that one of the buildings I stepped into had already been creating a tech hub for the past 2 years called The Greenhouse. The Greenhouse, run by the Mark Wigder Companies, refurbed The Greenhouse and increased the building occupancy with many tech companies. We did a deal and shortly after both DSX Labs and The Bric were located in the building.
So what is DSX Labs? It is not exactly a traditional tech shared co-working space, nor is it an incubator or accelerator the way they define those types of spaces. For those of us who are consulting or driving business to technologists, especially high-end social networks and membership sites and mobile apps, this is a space to come and learn and cooperate with us. We do welcome tech community members to visit us and for any other shared technology space in Boca Raton we welcome them to reciprocate, meaning if we have an event or space, you can come and use our space, as long as we can come and use yours. We will have some limited space for paid tech start-ups to get an office, limited space for shared tech people, and satellite offices of tech related companies. Though we have to select you to be in our space. We are still working on the website for DSXLabs.com. It will not be available for at least a few more days. Hopefully we will get in the space and let everybody know where we are and what we can do for you.