As we’ve written about previously, coworking spaces are a great option for startups. Networking abilities, events, and perks, all makes these offices ideal. And, perhaps above all, it’s a very agile option for the startup that wants to remain lean and flexible through the early stages of growth.
Finding one is now easier than ever. Using tools such as PivotDesk, Deskpass, and Croissant, short-term, coworking locations can be located in the click of a button – check them out to easily identify an empty desk or several in your city. This holds true in cities across the country. Since we know coworking is a global phenomenon, we thought it would be interesting to find the best coworking spaces in major entrepreneurial cities. This week, we head to Chicago.
The Windy City is famed for its hotdogs, cold winters, and its innovative spirit. Venture Capital in Chicago is on the up and up. According to World Business Chicago, $553.8M of VC dollars were invested in Chicago in Q4 2015, up from $440.2M in Q4 2014. We did some research and identified the 5 most exciting coworking spaces in the city. If you’re in Chicago or hiring a remote employee, we recommend you check out these offices. They might be just what you’re looking for.
The biggest name in the Chicago coworking scene is 1871. Featuring companies such as Kahoots and Occasion, this hub is the most prominent in the Midwest. It is growing and released its 3rd expansion in April.
Interestingly, the name 1871 is derived from the year of the great Chicago fire, after which the city came together to rebuild greater and bigger than ever before.
One of the most compelling aspects of 1871 is its emphasis on teaching and learning. There are many educational opportunities, such as learning how to code. There is an EdTech incubator, meant to change the way we think about teaching. There is a focus on women in STEM. 1871 has the resources to focus on company and personal development and tries its best to improve its members.
Location: Merchandise Mart.
Pricing: Shared desk for $350/month.
Space is your first step out your home office, focusing on small teams and independent contractors. This is a good option if you are looking for an experienced, helping-hand in growing your business. They offer a virtual office and day pass options as a stepping stone between home and a professional office. They host special guests, workshops, and classes meant to drive innovative conversation. You can also book a conference room. Better than your living room, huh?
A benefit of Space is its options for collaboration. You can access private, semi-private, and open spaces, meaning you can have as much or as little contact with your community as you want. This can put you in touch with like-minded entrepreneurs. And don’t forget the free beer!
Location: River North.
Pricing: $199/month for an open seating membership, $399/month for a dedicated desk.
The Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE) is the University of Chicago’s latest venture into the entrepreneurial space, featuring companies like Fizz, Mighty, and AccessArc. Its connection with the university means it gains access to university funding and resources, which can be crucial for early stage businesses.
Members can apply for the Chicago Innovation Fund, which invests in many small businesses and is run out of the CIE. Additionally, through the incubator, the CIE takes no equity, but reserves the right to invest in the next round of funding.
Location: Hyde Park.
Assemble focuses on fast growing startups. The space features companies, such as Paris312 and Caviar’s Chicago operation. The month-to-month lease ensures that your office space can grow as quickly as your company does. There is also no long-term commitment. The free conference rooms are a nice perk too!
Assemble also sells itself on offering basic amenities and deals with certain Chicago institutions. They have partnered with Divvy Bikes and ZipCar to provide special deals for their members, so you can get to work easier. They even provide free bike storage.
Location: West Loop, Gold Coast/Old Town
Pricing: $350/month for a coworking desk.
Blue 1647 is geared towards affordability, professional development, and a sense of community, as demonstrated by their membership. This includes the 21st Century Youth Project, the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival, and Code Chicago. They also offer a youth coding boot camp.
Blue 1647 hosts over 100 classes and workshops each year and is not restricted to their members. They also offer an E.L.I.T.E (entrepreneur, leadership, intelligence, technology, and empowerment) monthly series with industry experts. You can also rent out their space to host an event!
Location: Lower West Side
Pricing: $250/month for the membership plus package.