By GREGORY ZELLER //
Consider it ridesharing on the road to professional development.
That’s the angle founder Graham Beck is taking at Bridgeworks, the Long Beach co-working community that’s advancing nicely in Beck’s self-appointed mission to create a local business-incubation system – and then replicate it elsewhere.
As co-working spaces go, Bridgeworks is a busy one: networking events, marketing help, printing services, plenty to eat and drink and a host of other business-building benefits especially useful to early-stage enterprises.
Things take a sharper turn when you factor in location, starting with the 2016 startup’s primary Long Beach locale – an intentional seasonal lure for established urban professionals looking to get out of Dodge for a day or longer.
This month, Bridgeworks added 7,500 square feet of space across the street from its original Long Beach Boulevard facility – high-end executive suites for attorneys and insurance companies in need of temporary digs, and a big step toward the “campus-type situation” Graham referenced when Bridgeworks first expanded in 2017.
Meanwhile, the innovator – son of Planet Payment founder Phillip Beck – is advancing on a second front: With his DropDesk software solution as the common denominator, Beck is rolling out a “workspace platform” that takes the fight directly into neighborhoods where transient workspaces are hard to find.
The secret weapon is Beck’s strategy of utilizing existing, underused spaces – empty conference rooms, vacant offices, restaurants with extra seating in the back. The secret sauce is DropDesk, which offers remote, account-driven access to a searchable menu of available workspaces, plus access to a universe of Bridgeworks-style business-building advantages.
“As we know, especially on Long Island, there’s a lack of places where people can congregate and build a business community,” Beck told Innovate LI. “Our goal is to build a flexible network of locations where community members can drop in and enjoy all the benefits of what our network has to offer.
“We resolve workspace logistics for all kinds of companies,” he added. “It’s like an Uber for work.”
At Bridgeworks’ “hub locations” – it now totals more than 24,000 square feet across its Long Beach grounds – the amenities run thick: high-speed WiFi connections, fresh coffee, stocked kitchen and plenty of like minds to share entrepreneurial war stories, among others.
The idea is to bring that all-for-one style to the remote “Drop Zones,” delivering entrepreneurial essentials to “the freelancer who just can’t pay $300 a month,” Beck noted.
“We’re finding new ways to link our full-time spaces with our transient spaces to give more members more accessibility,” he added. “We want to help kickstart this whole community and let them work with likeminded professionals.”
DropDesk already lists available co-working spaces on Long Island, in New York City and in Austin, Texas, and Beck is looking to hit the gas. Restaurants “that want to maximize their opportunity” – whether they’re struggling or want to complement existing busy times – are proving especially eager, with on-site food discounts becoming a common perk for DropDesk members, Beck noted.
In addition to expanding available locations, Beck next plans to beef up those logistical support services, providing new bells and whistles that will help Drop Zone property owners market their spaces to transient professionals, and help the professionals both find those spaces and enjoy the full slate of Bridgeworks business-building tools.
New SEO services, a “chat box” feature connecting business professionals on various levels and other networking solutions are coming, according to the entrepreneur, whose master plan is to “resolve all of these different pain points that revolve around work.”
“As everything moves into a mobile, digital world, we’re primarily involved in how we can make the entrepreneur’s life a little bit easier,” Beck said. “We’re creating a marketplace of services accessible anywhere, rather than having to commute into the city for the same experience.”
And of course, the new logistical services will continue to add to the experience at Bridgeworks, which is now about 60 percent occupied and filling up fast, according to its founder.
“The whole goal for Bridgeworks is to create this Long Beach campus,” Beck said. “We’re looking at new ways to enhance the area and draw more young professionals to Long Beach.
“And we’ve been seeing a large increase (in the summer),” he added. “We had about seven new members sign up for the summer season just this week.”