Grind: A Workspace for Free Range Humans


Grind is a great name for a workspace for an industry where everyone lives on caffeine. But note: Grind doesn’t refer to itself as a co-working space. They prefer ‘collaborative space.’ In fact, the writing’s literally on the wall: ‘work liquid.’ The physical space itself, located at 419 Park Avenue South, lends itself to collaboration, and was designed to be just that: an airy, open collaborative platform with huge floor to ceiling windows, light everywhere and all the coffee you can drink, thanks to Intelligentsia Coffee, who happens to be one of their strategic partners. Although we’re not sure if the space’s name is a reference to the coffee, or to the fact that many of the members are on their second or third startups, and are well aware of that starting a company is no picnic.

The space itself came about through the collaborative efforts of Benjamin Dyett, friends Stuart and Karina Warshaw and Co:Collective, along with strategic partners Behance (which was acquired by Adobe), CoolHunting, BreakfastNY and, of course, Intelligentsia. And membership is curated.

“Our members are people who’ve run businesses before, so they’re self-funded or in business,” Dyett continued. “It’s not about a bunch of young tech startups. We have those here, too, but Grind is a very diverse community. It works so well because there is a broad range of experience in the room on any given day, and if people need expertise they don’t have, it’s here. First and foremost, we’re about collaboration. People understand that and do share expertise with the person sitting in the next seat. We try to create a frictionless environment.”

Dyette spent most of his life as real estate lawyer, working out of coffee shops, borrowed offices and from home, when need be. “When I had a big project, I’d rent a service office space. I was working in one of those spaces, and it wasn’t very nice.” Neither was the guy who was running it. “He pissed me off one day, so I went back to my little windowless office and knocked out my business plan (for Grind): When you’re pissed off enough, you’ll do anything.”

It worked.

“Our target is to have 80-100 members here every day. We do hit those numbers pretty much. Mondays and Fridays may be a bit lighter. Tuesday and Wednesdays are heavier.”

And they’re growing. Come June 1st, they’re opening a 15,000 square foot space on 39th and
Broadway, and a 10,000 square foot space in Chicago, right in the heart of the Loop.

“We hope to open in LA in the fall and the new spaces will be a bit different. They’ll have more spaces to go and have private conversations. We have phone booths for that now, but new spaces will have more of them, and breakout rooms where up to four people can go and have a private conversation. It’ll be the same price, but the new spaces are also going to be more dramatic,” Dyett noted.

Monthly rates are currently $500, which some consider a bit on the high side. They also offer daily rates ($30/day and you can come whenever) It’s a pay one price program that includes everything – except conference room time, which is a nominal fee. Monthly members also get lockers and can use Grind as their mailing address.

Although it’s not filled with all tech startups, the space itself is definitely high tech, with a sophisticated digital system for helping members find fellow members whose skills they might need and a gallery of LCD displays where members can showcase their work.

They also organize one event each month. “It’s called ‘rethink,’” Dyett said. “We find industry disruptors who have interesting tales to tell and let them present.” The event is open to the public, too, and past disruptors/presenters include Sarah Horowitz (founder of the freelancers union), Fred Wilson, Cindy Gallop, and Reddit founder and disruptor extraordinaire Alexis Ohanian.

Every co-working space seems to have its success stories, and Dyett feels that one of Grind’s success stories is Grind itself. “Grind is about two or three people getting together and helping each other succeed That’s the success.”

Well, that and a few others, including behance, which Adobe purchased for $150 million. Other ‘Grinds’ have included Klout’s New York team, who worked there before moving into their own space, as did comp.ly, before they got their Series B. They left kicking and screaming, according to Dyett. “Tom shows every now and then, just to say hello.”

TEDxHarlem got its start at Grind.

“One guy started here by himself,” Dyett began. “He was a sort of a producer and he had the rights to start TEDxHarlem. He met another guy here, and they built a team around the concept. TEDxHarlem was held in March of 2012. The team that worked so well together, they morphed into a marketing agency, and they’re here to this day.

“A lot of that happens organically,” he continued. “We have a number of VC’s who work out of the space. Through the collaborative process, they’ve met and funded some of the companies here – we do introductions, too. It’s all part of the collaborative fabric.

Grind seems to have established itself as a one-stop destination where members go not only to get work done, but also to find coworkers, clients, and of course, caffeine. The coffee is definitely there and plentiful, but you stay for the Grinds.

About the author: Bonnie Halper

Bonnie Halper curates the StartupOneStop.com newsletter, which focuses on startups and entrepreneurs, and is currently being read in 50+ countries around the world.

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