How to start a coworking space like…@hubmelbourne

This is the second post in a series I’m writing about coworking spaces and how to start them. See the first piece, on Inspire9, here.

Hub Melbourne is a very different story to Inspire9, which is why it’s so great. Hub Melbourne was formed out of the desire to create a place in Melbourne’s CBD where people from a diverse number of backgrounds could come together to work in the same space. Designed to be a for profit venture from the start, Hub Melbourne looked to transform the way people accessed the city and the way people worked in it. Because it was coming from a global group of other coworking spaces, it also offered a unique ability for it’s members to collaborate with like minded people across the world as well as across the city of Melbourne.

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Hub Melbourne found a great space inside the then beginnings of Donkey Wheel House. The photo above is one I took of the space that is now Hub Melbourne when I first got a tour of the building by my friend and mentor Col Duthie. Seeing the space that day, the sense that DWH was at the beginning of a ten year journey towards creating a true place for the community was palpable. That was in 2008 and now three and a half years later you can really feel the building picking up more momentum towards that vision thanks to the epic efforts made by Brad, Jan, Ehon and the crew at Hub Melbourne, Jared and crew from Kinfolk and Paul and others at DWH itself.

Hub Melbourne has attracted people from all walks of professional life; be it social entrepreneurs, individual contractors/freelancers/consultants, corporates looking for a third space for it’s staff and even silicon valley startups like Yammer and Change.Org. It’s created a vibrant mix of events that occur on most nights now, ran by it’s members and it’s played host to some great larger scale events such as Mindful. Which brings me to my final point on Hub Melbourne. It’s going to be sustainable.

Hub Melbourne

Brad, the founder, has always intended for Hub Melbourne to be a profitable and sustainable venture. It’s successfully charged people for the right to be a part of the place they have created, as they should have. Thus, it will be sustainable.

Many people don’t get this aspect well enough in their efforts to replicate the Hub Melbourne coworking space in other locations. They see the vibrant place Hub Melbourne is right now and, rightfully, pine for the community they’ve generated but don’t quite grok how much investment and effort that has taken from the people involved to get it there. They want to baby without the labor pains, and as such when those pains do come all they do it complain at how much easier it should be. I’ve even heard people blame the Hub for stagnating progress of coworking elsewhere. A beer with Nathan or Brad is all you should need to be convinced of how much sweat, blood and sleepless nights are involved in doing what they have done. Listen to them – they’re the leaders in Australia at this sort of stuff.

Hub Melbourne is just about to move into their new ‘ballroom’ space and really grow their operation in many ways. It’s going to be an exciting time and exciting to watch. We’ve only really seen the beginning of the coworking movement take place these last 3 years and I’m excited to see where Brad and the Hub Community take the concept in the next 3 years. We’re only at the beginning.

Things Hub Melbourne has done well

1:Created a place in the heart of Melbourne that people flock to for a variety of reasons
2:Grown a diverse mix of members and managed to maintain that diversity as they’ve grown
3:Involved all aspects of the community, from corporates to non-profits to individuals
4:Had a grand vision for what coworking could be in Australia. It continues on this path and will be exciting to watch.
5:Will be/is profitable.

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