By GREGORY ZELLER //
For Long Beach-based co-working facilitator Bridgeworks LLC, the most logical place for its first expansion facility was, naturally, Long Beach.
The idea is more about expanding the brand’s scope, according to founder Graham Beck, and less about expanding its physical footprint – though it’s partly about that, too, with the company purposely selecting a neighboring venue to create “a campus-type situation,” Beck noted.
But the biggest reason Bridgeworks has renovated and occupied another large Harrison Street space is to offer shared professional spaces to a new range of clientele, different from the roughly 90 clients who’ve passed through Bridgeworks’ doors since the 2015 startup actually opened in August 2016 – mostly, early-stage enterprises making their first forays into the commercial world.
That first space is “pretty much sold out,” Beck noted, filled almost exclusively by startups that pay by the month to use the facility’s shared professional amenities, including 6,000 square feet of workspace tables, glass-enclosed conference rooms and WiFi connectivity. The founder noted a “pretty diverse” clientele, including such early-stagers as Skudin Surf – dedicated to teaching the masses to safely hang 10 – and biometrics-focused startup Ipsidy.
Diverse, yes, and certainly exciting – but not the primary target audience for the second facility, which according to Beck is tuned more to established professionals with slightly different needs.
“We’re expanding the co-working context and tailoring it with an executive-suite location,” Beck told Innovate LI. “We’ve noticed that although our initial co-working office-space concept fits a majority of needs, there are a few different industries where it didn’t – for instance, professionals who might need a more private setting.”
Those can be hard to find in the first Bridgeworks space, an 8,000-square-foot hub where glass walls and open floor plans promote cohabitation and collaboration – not necessarily the right tonic for an attorney conducting a sensitive negotiation or a therapist meeting with a patient.
Enter Bridgeworks’ second 8,000-square-foot effort, which features private executive suites, a reception/waiting area and “premium conference rooms,” according to Beck, stocked with whiteboards and other topflight corporate tech.
“It’s a little more tailored to business professionals who need a place to work, rather than younger millennials or more collaborative business types,” he added.
The second space also offers what Beck called “the single-person instant office,” a smaller private space with a desk, a chair and a great chance to get away from it all.
“It allows clients or members to have their own dedicated working space at a much lower price point,” Beck said. “We don’t have the single-person office at the first facility.”
Those subtle but important differences are all part of the plan, which is “to evolve this into a single 16,000-square-foot facility across two venues,” Beck noted.
“Any type of business should be able to fit into one of these facilities,” he said.
Situating the second space across the street from the first also ties directly into Bridgeworks’ master plan.
The company initially launched in a rehabilitated building across from the headquarters of Planet Payment – the international payment- and currency-processing service provider founded by Beck’s father, Philip – and the new facility occupies the ground floor of the Planet Payment building.
So if Planet Payment – where Phillip, now retired, remains a shareholder – were to ever relocate, Bridgeworks would have another ready 8,000 square feet to add to its collection, according to Beck.
The Bridgeworks founder stressed there’s no indication that Planet Payment is pulling up its tents. But with the new space, which officially opened its doors this week, already attracting attention – “Our first customers include some VCs and a kind of finance-accounting practice,” Beck noted – Bridgeworks is definitely thinking big.
Future expansions may take the brand to entirely new locales – “It would be great to have a place in Brooklyn or Manhattan,” the founder mused, “so members can reverse commute or work near the beach in the summer” – but first, Bridgeworks is focused on maximizing its brand in its own backyard.
“We want to create a real Long Beach business campus, and expand it as much as possible, maybe 30,000-plus square feet,” Beck said. “Then, we’ll try to go everywhere we can. Strategic places, where we can offer our members the greatest benefits.
“We’re thinking very big picture,” he added. “This is just the next step.”