Co-working spaces in Pittsburgh: cheap digs and collaboration
With a startup or freelance work, it’s often hard to find a place to work beyond the home. There’s your local coffee shop, where power outlets are strategically hidden, and the Internet connection is weak. You can rent office space, but the lease and furnishings alone can drain you. The solution? Co-working spaces. Cropping up all over the country, Pittsburgh boasts a healthy array of spaces catered to all sorts of industries.
“Co-working spaces provide a lower barrier of entry," as The Beauty Shoppe co-founder Rabih Helou says. Rent at these spaces can cost you less than a cup of coffee a day and provide you with space, resources, and a power outlet of your choosing. A twist on the conventional office space, co-working spaces provide open places to work without the commitment to a lease. And there's the benefit of working with others like you. Who knows what great things will come of it?
Here’s a guide to the many co-working spaces in Pittsburgh, as well as what each space has to offer.
The Hardware Store
744 E. Warrington Ave., Allentown 15210
$150 per desk/month (includes access to production suites)
The Hardware Store is Pittsburgh’s newest co-working space. Opened in July, the space is geared towards media production with tenants ranging from stop-motion animators to audio production companies recording voice overs.
Located in Allentown, The Hardware store was started by Josh Lucas, founder of local start up Crowdasarus
. Lucas partnered with the Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation and local developers RE360 to create the space which has a media production suite, green screen, and podcasting studio available to tenants.
Lucas hopes the space will create partnerships between media production and start ups in Pittsburgh. “We want to have a mix of tech startups, nonprofits, and freelance folks because we think that that conversation needs to happen so that everyone can move their projects forward. A start up needs good media and media producers need jobs. If you smoosh them altogether in a room, that’s going to benefit everyone.”
Formal leases of The Hardware Store began August 1st. The space has room for 35 desks (tenants). For lease inquiries, contact Crowdasaurus
1936 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh 15219
Prices vary depending on tenant needs
StartUptown was co-working before people even called it co-working. Founder Dale McNutt almost stumbled into the idea--since 2006, the space has been rented out by multiple startups using the space together. The rambling, renovated home is over 100-years old, and a cool change of pace from standard office space with its airy loft above and fabulous artwork by Dale's wife, Jeanne. StartUpTown caters to businesses in all sizes and stages as well as creative types looking for a desk. They currently host a growing startup with 20 employees.
StartUptown is in the middle of Pittsburgh between Oakland and Downtown in the Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone (PCKIZ). The PCKIZ provides grants for start ups, as well as tax credits and paid internships for the surrounding colleges, making it an appealing location to co-work. StartUpTown’s initiative is not only to attract tenants, but also invigorate the local community of Uptown. The space has hosted a wide variety of tenants from all forms of industry.
945 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh 15222
starts at $150 with additional add-ons possible
The folks at Bruno Works have been renting desks in their space informally for several years, only officially adopting the title of co-working space earlier this year.
The space, which occupies two floors in the heart of downtown, hosts a variety of tenants, from private tutors and lawyers, to video game console designers and production studios. The diversity breeds “cross pollination between businesses,” says Project Manager Sara Blumenstein.
The co-working space provides 24/7 access to the building, a phone room, kitchens on each floor, free coffee and wifi, mailboxes, an art supplies room, and photography area for businesses to use. “I should also add that we have comfy chairs; that’s a big selling point,” jokes Blumenstein. Tenants can rent desks or private rooms, and conference rooms are available at an hourly rate.
192 Bakery Square Boulevard, Pittsburgh, 15206
plans start at $175, classes start at $45
Tech Shop is not your standard co-working space. Opened in March, the shop offers a variety of tools for creating and customizing products. The space is a catch-all for tech users, from hobbyists to small business owners.
“It’s like a gym membership, in the sense that we have all the equipment, stuff that you would never have at your home or in the garage. Instead of owning that equipment, you can become a member but instead of coming in and working out, you come in and make just about anything,” explains Senior Account Manager Les Gies. The impressive Tech Shop has tools for metal working, wood cutting, 3D printing, laser cutting, sewing, spraying, and water jet cutting.
Instead of desks at Tech Shop, users buy a membership which allows for use of the facility, and computer software (Adobe, Autodesk), as well as machines that the member must be certified to operate. Only after a basics class can a member use certain hardware. Classes are taught frequently at all different times. Non-members are welcome to stop by for a tour anytime during business hours. We highly recommend. It's way cool.
122 Meyran Ave., Pittsburgh, 15213
open spaces $100/month, private offices $500/month
Revv is a co-working space built for the evolving startup. “I just wanted to build a place where my own company could work,” says Mark Musolino, one of the founders of the space. An alumni of Alpha Lab, Musolino recognized the vulnerability of a growing company, and the need for stability at crucial stages.
In addition to the standard offerings of co-working spaces (conference rooms, lounge, kitchen), Revv also includes “added value” services such as photography, legal, design, tax and accounting, and sales and marketing. The space fosters company growth in addition to hosting it.
When a desk within the space proves too small for your growing start-up, Revv can grow with you. The co-working space owners have multiple properties across Oakland and can move businesses into different spaces to accommodate different types of companies. Revv’s location in Oakland makes it an ideal space for health/technology start-ups, they say, and in fact more than a third of the companies occupying the space pertain to those industries.
The Beauty Shoppe
6101 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh 15206
Basic Membership starts at $50
The Beauty Shoppe was the first spot to deem itself a co-working space in Pittsburgh. Three years ago “it started out as an experiment," says co-founder Rabih Helou. "Let’s open up the doors and see what happens."
The Beauty Shoppe serves a variety of different tenants. The space has housed DJs, ministers, and small organizations. Some tenants joined The Beauty Shoppe as a means to plug into Pittsburgh after relocating. The space offers internet, printer/scanner/copiers, conference rooms, mailboxes, lockers, and space to hold events. And we can't forget coffee from Zeke’s, the space’s neighbor.
It's not just for working but also for collaborating. “Unexpected collisions are simply more interesting when you have a diverse group of people” explains Helou.
4327 Butler St., Lawrenceville 15201
a “key” is $90 a month
Once located on Penn Ave., Catapult recently made the switch to a larger space in Lawrenceville. The space emphasizes community within co-working. Each week, tenants hold a group meeting to share progress on projects. The collaboration is what draws many of the members to the space, explains team member Elliot Williams. Unlike many of the other co-working spaces in Pittsburgh, the majority of the tenants at Catapult are female.
Catapult provides several other services in addition to the space. On the first Friday of each month, they host Show ‘n’ Tell, where four presenters are invited to speak about their initiatives in Pittsburgh. Catapult also offers a creative agency from a team of freelancers working in the space.
A twist on the co-working spaces, business incubators provide space and education for new businesses. Instead of tenants, the spaces take applicants and provide start-up funding to get your business off the ground.
2325 East Carson St., Pittsburgh 15203
AlphaLab is not just a business incubator, but also a business accelerator. Start-ups in AlphaLab have 20 weeks to take their product from idea to market. Each company occupying the South Side space has a $25,000 investment, as well as mentoring and education. Alpha Lab provides the companies with resources to grow. According to Director of Communications & Community Development Terri Glueck, AlphaLab looks for applicants with “a technology that can launch in a short amount of time, small amount of capital, with lots of business assistance.”
AlphaLab is launching a new space for hardware startups--AlphaLab Gear, in December. The experience will be similar to the original Alpha Lab, but with an extended growth period of 6 months. AlphaLab Gear is targeted towards companies building a physical product. Interested? Applications are open until September 3rd.
6024 Broad St., Pittsburgh 15203
Thrill Mill originated as a start-up competition. Through an event and fundraising CEO Bobby Zappala and friends would give the winning team all of the proceeds. “We were receiving over 100 applications and there were a number of really promising ideas and more importantly energetic young entrepreneurs that were looking for some more guidance. For them it was much more about structure and support than money at least in the stage that they were,” says Zappala.
Thrill Mill received a large grant from an anonymous donor, and the space was born. The space houses 13 startups and provides programming and mentoring in addition to space. Tenants are given a year rent-free in the space. “There’s inherently a sense of community. Everybody who comes in knows that they were selected to be a part of this thing” explains Zappala. Thrill Mill is constantly evolving, and hoping to take another class of teams in the future.
Location: 111 N. Whitfield St., 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Thinktiv is a venture investment firm with a commercial accelerator and if you're a fit as an early stage innovator, space is free of charge. The eight-year old company specializes in creating capital efficient technology but works with promising companies in a variety of market segments. And they run an early stage advisor program that engages one to two startups at a time in a two to three month cycle to refine ideas for fundraising or put the business in market.
Thinktiv's 2,500 square feet is currently home to 9 startups from the idea stage to fundraising. There is no time limit for use of the space provided the business is evolving, growing and building. In addition to a workspace, Thinktiv provides end-to-end acceleration services including product strategy, user experience, branding and customer acquisition strategy to help innovators win markets. According to co-founder, Paul Burke, they "work with client partners to identify and create the most valuable assets a company can acquire that will accelerate its path towards product-market fit, or market-share."
Emma Diehl is a recent college graduate living in Pittsburgh and seeking full time employment. She writes for IheartPGH and her personal site.