Focus on NJ Coworking: At JuiceTank, a Bold, Unique Space Plus Mentorship Helps Members Grow Their Businesses


 

Photo: The entry to coworking space JuiceTank. Photo Credit: John Critelli

The entry to coworking space JuiceTank. | John Critelli

[This is the third in a series of profiles of New Jersey coworking spaces.]

JuiceTank’s 22,000-square-foot coworking facility in Somerset gives members a high-energy  work environment, complete with colorful murals and a bright, cheerful atmosphere.

“When you walk through our space you should already be inspired,” said Charlie Patel, one of JuiceTank’s founders.

The facility acts as a coworking space, a business incubator, and a venture organization that builds its own businesses.

But the founders’ main goal is to help the members under their roof. That’s why Charlie Patel and his cousin, cofounder Mukesh Patel, use their decades of combined business experience to advise members.

“We’re serial entrepreneurs, but during our careers we’ve had amazing mentors,” Charlie Patel said. “We love entrepreneurship—that’s who we are—but we also love mentorship. And the idea behind this place was ‘how do we promote entrepreneurship in New Jersey?'”

Photo: Workspaces at JuiceTank Photo Credit: John Critelli

Workspaces at JuiceTank | John Critelli

Members agree that JuiceTank has grown their businesses. “JuiceTank was a huge help” with finding staff members, said Michael Calamusa, a partner at Aardvark Brigade, which provides strategies, creative work and more to clients. “They brought individuals in, they pre-screened them based on qualifications that we were looking for, and then we were left with this really nicely refined and filtered group of participants to interview.”

The leadership’s helpful nature is also shared by the members themselves. “I can go to anybody sitting here and ask them for some help,” said Joe Monaco, a management consultant who works in JuiceTank’s common area. Monaco, who owns the forklift-safety training business LIFTOR, said that he knew everybody’s names at the friendly facility.

JuiceTank’s members also help each other by providing referrals. “If I’m looking for a sales person for my company, JuiceTank has so many people I can get referrals [from],” said Venu Tirumalai, an entrepreneur who owns software-development company SuperLogix. Tirumalai, whose business largely works with Microsoft products, also said that he valued the fact that he could discuss such products with other members. That’s because roughly 40% of JuiceTank’s coworking members work in the tech industry.

In fact, helping members find such a like-minded community was one of Charlie Patel’s main goals. He chose not to advertise JuiceTank, relying instead on hosting tech-related events to attract members with common interests.

Photo: Juicetank hosted a Lean Startup Machine workshop this year. Photo Credit: John Critelli

Juicetank hosted a Lean Startup Machine workshop this year. | John Critelli

One such event is the NJ Entrepreneurs and Technology Startups Meetup, which is organized by Charlie Patel and often occurs at JuiceTank. The facility also hosts the All Things Marketing Meetup, which Charlie Patel organizes with entrepreneur Zion Kim. Other events at the space have included educational workshops, lectures, networking events, Startup Weekend  New Jersey  and Lean Startup Machine New Jersey.

JuiceTank was certainly a fitting place to host Lean Startup Machine and Startup Weekend, as the facility is home to startups like ZEENOV, a communications platform provider; Health Options Worldwide, a data-driven disease-prevention company; and CareSpeak, a mobile wellness platform company

And the Patels know how to guide such companies toward success. Mukesh spent years counseling and advising startups as a practicing business attorney. He is also a principal investor and the managing director at NextBridge Group, an investment and advisory firm. Among his other accomplishments, Charlie has spent time as a consultant and project manager, working for prestigious organizations like JPMorgan and GE Capital.

But starting a coworking space was a new experience for both cousins, so they set out to gather ideas before opening JuiceTank. They visited over 20 facilities in New Jersey; New York; Silicon Valley; Austin, Texas; and other areas for inspiration.

They eventually decided to locate JuiceTank in an office building at 220 Davidson Avenue, in Somerset. The building was chosen partly for its proximity to Rutgers University, which is roughly a 10-minute drive away. This makes it easy to partner with the university for events like September’s Lean Startup Machine program, which was partially sponsored by Rutgers.

When you enter JuiceTank, you walk past the reception desk into a large hallway lined with canvas art designed by Charlie Patel himself. This art features uplifting quotes by Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Ralph Waldo Emerson and other visionaries.

Photo: Meeting space at Juicetank Photo Credit: John Critelli

Meeting space at Juicetank | John Critelli

The hallway is also lined with several offices and meeting rooms before opening up into an expansive communal area that is bordered by more meeting rooms, a kitchen, and an eye-catching 64-foot mural created by professional graffiti artists. Beyond this area, you will find quiet work stations, more private offices, and a recreation area where members can play pool or ping pong.

Photo: Even the kitchen at Juicetank has a mural. Photo Credit: John Critelli

Even the kitchen at Juicetank has a mural. | John Critelli

JuiceTank’s variety of workspaces allow members’ businesses to grow while remaining at the facility. “The idea here is that if you are just starting today, you can start in the coworking space and graduate up,” said Charlie Patel. “Even if you are a 20-person team, we have a space for you.”

The ability to “graduate” has been helpful for Clay Webster, vice president of engineering at the content and advertising platform Vivoom.

“I started coming here every once in a while, just doing day passes,” he said. “But I really wanted to get my own office.” Webster needed space to accommodate his computer equipment, and he now works in an office at the end of the entrance hallway.

The Patels also help companies grow with JuiceTank’s business incubator service, giving special attention, advice, and financial support to a select few startups. Entrepreneurs are invited to pitch their ideas, with a view to receiving smart capital, collaboration and connections from the Patels. “We get a very healthy stream of startup pitches,” said Charlie Patel.

Finally, the Patels run their own businesses out of JuiceTank to supplement their revenues. “We just started a design and development studio right here, inside of JuiceTank,” Charlie Patel said. “Mukesh is working on an education-based startup himself,” he added. “And, of course, with this infrastructure that we’ve built, and the great contacts and community members that we’ve been lucky enough to come face-to-face with, we’re able to connect the dots.”

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