WeWork brings its offline communities online with FullStart, a content site for entrepreneurs
Co-working spaces are nothing new, and neither is the notion of building an immersive entrepreneurial community. But, at the same time, new ideas for reinvigorating this community have stagnated recently. Any city with a thriving startup community has a good list of spaces to work from. If they're really innovative, they offer classes, pooled services, events and happy-hour events to better foster the community.
New York-based WeWork manages communal workspaces in 14 buildings across NYC, San Francisco and LA, with a total of 6000 members. The company operates on the thesis that WeWork members do better work as a result of being in the community. True to its tagline "the physical social network," WeWork's members share information, best practices, how-tos, tips and recommendations. Sometimes they become each others clients.
Today WeWork has launched a Web publication called FullStart, which is "dedicated to helping startups and small businesses." The idea is to take WeWork's community magic and port it to the Web, so that small businesses around the country can learn from and contribute to WeWork's community without being physically present in the co-working space. This is how a real estate company tries its hand at scale.
FullStart's homepage features numerous posts about entrepreneurs and their doings, like tips on specific functions such as social media or PR as well as editorials from well-known entrepreneurs. Harrison Weber, who recently left The Next Web, has been appointed editorial director for the publication. Weber will be writing his own content and leading a team of contributors.
Since its founding in 2009, WeWork has focused on building community. Members have access to work spaces with Internet, coffee, and beer, as well as sponsored community events, like happy hours and networking shindigs. The company took this even further with the recent summer camp getaway for members.
FullStart is a natural progression of what WeWork has been doing with its physical co-working spaces. Matt Shampine, co-founder of WeWork's Labs division and general manager of FullStart, says that by adding an editorial component, WeWork's offerings become more widespread and far-reaching. In addition, it adds a more instructional approach to its programming. It doesn't hurt member recruitment as WeWork expands to new cities, either.
A move like this highlights how WeWork is different from other community-oriented entrepreneur networks like General Assembly. While GA works to foster a sense of entrepreneur-based camaraderie, much like WeWork, it does so through classes and workshops. WeWork instead is focusing primarily on the actual community aspect -- that is, workspaces, events, and now editorial.
It is a space for active discourse among entrepreneurs that isn't mediated by a formalized classroom environment.
As Shampine puts it, WeWork's goal is to help entrepreneurs be more successful. In this vein, FullStart's content is meant for people with an interest in every aspect of starting and growing companies. This gives FullStart more freedom as to the kinds of pieces Weber can pick and the kind of topics he thinks are appropriate to its audience. At the same time, this kind of content helps solidify the kind of community WeWork has been building.