LIHUE — Coworking spaces are entrepreneur incubators, said Peter Simon, principal of Kuleana.work during last week’s Lihue Business Association meeting.
The idea behind the two new coworking spots in Lihue, Kuleana.work and The 808 Workplace, is to help foster independent businesses and professionals. But they’re for anyone who is seeking a workspace, including a conference room, without the high cost of having a brick and mortar, said Susan Irie, owner of The 808 Workplace.
Having a place that offers space to work on a day-by-day or month-by-month basis at an affordable rate allows many new business owners a head start on their entrepreneurial ideas.
While it’s largely young entrepreneurs flocking to Irie’s new business, she said she’s had a variety of people sign up to work in her new space, which is located next door to her other business, Kilohana Lighting.
Everyone from attorneys seeking meeting rooms to accountants looking for a cozy nook is walking through the doors, as well as digital media and marketing professionals, and freelance artists. Irie said she calls it a “collaborative workspace” where people from many different backgrounds have the added opportunity of mingling and networking within the open spaces.
Kuleana.work also offers a space for people from all industries to rub shoulders. That said, when the concept of Kuleana.work was first discussed, Simon said the initial thought was to bring in only the “digital worker.” But he said he realized that there was a need for others to have a shared workspace to go that wasn’t a coffee shop — a place that can be difficult to focus.
“Our target is a person who has an idea and wants to work it out,” he said. “We wanted to help them in any way we could and bring that out to the community.”
Working at home also has its challenges and distractions, which is another reason coworking has been received with open arms, said Irie.
“That atmosphere (at home) is stimulating for many people trying to do work,” she said.
Kauai is actually a little late to the coworking party. The idea developed about 14 years ago in San Francisco, and there are currently some 36,000 coworking spaces in the world, said Pat Griffin, LBA president.
One challenge Simon said he’s had is that there are still plenty of people on Kauai who don’t know what coworking is.
“They have this look in their eyes like, ‘What is this space?’” he said.
After Simon explains to them the concept of his business, which is located next door to Ha Coffee Bar on Rice Street, he said, “Their eyes light up.”
Each of the businesses offers technological capabilities with open working spaces, as well as conference rooms. The 808 Workplace also has individual offices for rent. And though it’s already some 1,500 square feet now, Irie said she has plans to expand her coworking space and add additional features, such as a podcasting studio.
“Technology changes a lot so we’re trying to keep on top of whatever’s needed,” she said.
Visit kuleana.work or the808.work for more information.