NJTechWeekly.com had the opportunity to tour Launchpad Creatives, the Woodbridge, N.J., coworking space, last week. The place is alive and thriving, with some tech and nontech users making it their home. True to its name, the coworking location is particularly suited to creative types like web designers, app developers and social media activists, with its abundance of whiteboard and chalkboard space.
While there, we were able to participate in an excellent program covering the ins and outs of Google+ taught by social media trainer Eva Abreu. Abreu took attendees through the setup of a Google+ page, a business page, and showed them how to use circles and Google Hangouts. The evening NJTechWeekly.com visited, developer Craig Caruso of CarusoApps was working there.
Launchpad is the third N.J. coworking space NJTechWeekly has covered. We wrote about Mission Fifty in Hoboken when it opened and Converge NJ at Kean University when it closed. Coworking is important to the tech community. Many members are starting small businesses with one or two people and need a place to go to where they can bounce ideas off others. Yet it is a difficult proposition in the suburbs, where the tech community is spread out over many miles.
Launchpad was established in 2010 by Eric Duchin and Noelle Stary as home base for their businesses. Duchin runs PinPointMyPromotions.com, a promotions firm, and Stary heads 20 Lemons LLC, a boutique marketing company. The space they chose was too large for their own businesses, so they decided to turn it into a coworking space. Coworking was attractive to the two because it took them out of isolation and created a community with whom to share ideas or even just complain about the day, Duchin said.
Visitors walking into the Launchpad site are greeted by a conference area complete with projection equipment, whiteboards and all the paraphernalia to help companies hold small conferences. Facilities available include desk space and even an office that can accommodate one principal and an intern. Take a video tour of the space here.
Even though the coworking space is located on a commercial street in the heart of Woodbridge, there is plenty of free parking behind the building. This is important because suburban coworkers often have to drive to their coworking offices, and lack of parking was a key factor in the recent demise of at least one such space here in N.J.
Launchpad has a particular interest in helping creative companies grow by using interns, a win-win situation for both startup company and intern. Its new internship program, ToGetThere, helps small business owners hire the right interns to aid them in dealing with their workloads, Duchin said. Launchpad finds several interns from the program who meet the job descriptions given, so members can interview them and use their services. Once that person is hired, Launchpad dedicates an office for both business owner and intern to work from, and both parties benefit: the business gets a helping hand and the intern gains real-world experience.
Duchin is proud of Launchpad’s green initiatives. The space has a recycling center in its storage room and recycles just about everything in the space, including plastic bottle caps, which it donates to a program run by Aveda Corp. In addition, the company tends to give back to its community. Launchpad is hosting a “New Jersey Tweet Drive” at its location Dec. 19 from 6PM to 8PM and is asking attendees to bring a new unwrapped toy to donate while they network with likeminded folks. In addition, Launchpad is also developing some programming on its own and is eager for tech or creative clubs to make the space their home for meetings. One Thursday a month, users can work there for free.