Feb 14, 2013

New coworking space bolsters Madison’s tech scene

Excerpted from The Isthmus
by Marc Eisen

The tech world is so different from other industries. Can you think of another field where successful companies would rent space in their offices to freelancers working on their own projects?

This is not business as usual.

But that open-minded approach is central to the burgeoning coworking movement that’s spreading from information technology hotspots in Chicago, San Francisco, Cambridge and New York to much smaller IT markets like Madison. Its emergence here is another sign that the Madison tech scene is powering up.

In downtown Madison, Bendyworks, the 12-person web and app design outfit, rents another five desks to outside info tech workers. The online music storage company Murfie operates Horizon Coworking in shared offices. Hardin Design and Development welcomed outside IT workers for several years before moving to new quarters in the Verex Building in 2011.

“We hung out with those guys and played foosball with them,” Hardin exec Scott Resnick, who is also a city alderman, fondly recalls. “It created good energy. We were all in the startup game together. We did a lot of brainstorming.”

And that’s the key — the frisson of intellectual stimulation from chance encounters. Techies may have the reputation of being geeky loners, but the best aren’t. Web developers and software designers are unusually collaborative. Maybe it’s because many use open-source software as their tools to write code. Or perhaps because they’re used to working in development teams. Whatever the reason, they are often social creatures at work.

Alex Hillman, who runs the celebrated IndyHall coworking space in Philadelphia, put it this way in an email: “Our #1 resource isn’t our square footage, it’s the relationships and connections between our members…. Our entire reason for existing isn’t because people need an office, it’s because they need each other. The need for office ebbs and flows, but the need for camaraderie and support and friendship doesn’t.”

Read the full article.