Monday, May 11, 2009

interview with Drew Tyler, birth of a coworking community

Drew Tyler is a video producer in Salt Lake City who has set out to create a CoWorking community in Salt Lake City, for himself, and for his future coworkers. We approached Drew and he has agreed to correspond with us and track his process of launching his coworking site. Through Drew's story we hope to be able to illuminate the process for others out there seeking to do the same.

Greg: Why did you become interested in starting a CoWorking community? How had you heard of CoWorking?

Drew: I had the idea over a year ago to create some sort of 'digital salon.' I wanted to offer media services and support to the many freelance videographers here along the Wasatch Front. Kind of an umbrella operation for independent media producers. Long story short, I pitched the idea to business types, and they all had the same fear—freelancers on freelancers' budgets could not financially support the concept. I looked over hill and dell to find someone somewhere executing this idea. I found a few here and there. (one great one in Canada Emmedia.) So the germ of the idea of coworking has been with me for quite some time, I just didn't know if it was feasible. Until...


Drew continues: My sister forwarded an article from the SL Tribune about a space that had just opened in Orem, UT. Cowork Utah. Honestly my first reaction was, "oh snap! someone's taken my dream, now what?" It didn't take more than 30 minutes for my wife and others to help me see the benefit of this event. The Cowork Utah website and the newspaper article introduced me to the term 'coworking' and led me to some fantastic coworking resources online, like the google group and the coworking wiki. I was like a kid in a candy store, reading everything I could on the movement, devouring every blog posting I could, exploring all the existing coworking spaces' websites. I examined the models and methods, and explored the concepts sustainability, synergy, collaboration etc. My coworking 'research' almost overshadowed my Graduate Research. =)

In finding the trend and literally the word 'coworking' I found my concept of a 'digital salon' could be sustained. Being in Grad School with no prospects for jobs after graduation I decided to test the idea using social media. I followed the guidelines and suggestions of coworking gurus, like Alex Hillman, Tara Hunt and others. They explained you can't just build a space and expect people to show up. Likewise, you can't create a space to be a successful money-making operation if the community doesn't exist to sustain it. So I went to work spreading the idea of coworking through Twitter and facebook, everywhere I went I would talk about it and listen to feedback. I even put a few ads up on Craigslist to see if the interest existed. After discussing career options with my wife we decided that if we wanted to continue to live in Utah and be near to family, we decided starting a coworking space would give us the means. I found that as people would ask what my plans were after graduation I would tell them I was starting a coworking space. It was like I was subconsciously painting myself into a corner.

I have done much of my research in School on the normative theory of Social Responsibility as it applies to the television news industry. I'm a firm believer in businesses giving back to the community, above and beyond the service or product they offer. My 'digital salon' was going to offer community access to knowledgeable professionals and community resources for digital production. I had even dreamed of requesting that each member of the 'salon' offer monthly services for non-profits as a sort of 'social tax.' The idea of coworking and social responsibility seemed to fit quite nicely, which made the transition from creating my 'salon' to creating a coworking space pretty natural.

G: What do you hope to get from it? Why not just rent space somewhere for yourself?

D: I think for me I hope to have lifestyle business that I can be proud of. Something that will provide the necessities for my family whilst allowing me to provide services to others. My hope is that this space will help all of its members increases their productivity and networking channels, and ultimately allow them to each provide better for their families. I could have chosen to live the life of a freelance videographer/producer with or without a commercial space. However, I believe this area has too many videographers as it is. I also have never liked the idea of living paycheck to paycheck.

  I saw a need in SLC, a niche I could fill, by creating a space where I could assist others in the pursuit of their dreams and I could still do video production as it came along. I have always planned, depending on funding, to create a small video studio in the space geared to creating podcasts for members and non-members alike. It's the best of all worlds, I get to continue to do video work, I get to help others, give back to the community and provide a new solution for working in the recent economic situation.

   I am in a position, where I have the time, ability and means to take on a larger risk than most. I can lock myself into a 3+ year lease for a larger space and provide more security for space members to have a professional creative workspace without the same long-term commitments.

Drew's Bio: He considers himself a jack of all trades digital and master of one—Editing. He has been in video production for nearly 10 years, and recently took a break to obtain a Master's degree in Mass Communications from Brigham Young University. He married his best friend nearly eight years ago and together they have two beautiful kids, one two and a half, and one 2 weeks old. One of his dreams has always been to own and operate his own business. He's done this on a minor scale, co-owning a small production company that turns 2-3 small video projects each year.

additional bits 'bout me: I love to cook gourmet, I love the ocean & disneyland, I love music and creating things. I love to teach others, and I speak fluent Tagalog.

Catch Drew on Twitter.

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  1. Drew, Thanks for sharing your story. Congrats on finishing your masters, having another child, AND opening a coworking space. I haven't been to SLC yet, but would love to stop by one of these days.
    A place to work while I visit is a feature I select for in my travels.

  2. We are now running our September specials, so come try out the loft and see if coworking is for you for only $5 a day or $99 for the entire month including all the beta plus amenities like your own phone number and voicemail, mail services, and remote backup.

    Visit for more information on our salt lake coworking center.


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