Coworking Important to New Jersey’s Tech Ecosystem

As publishes Laurie Petersen’s article about the official opening of Indiegrove in Jersey City, we want to acknowledge the major contribution coworking makes to tech entrepreneurship in New Jersey.

When first launched nearly two years ago, one N.J. coworking space was about to close its doors. During these two years, one other that we know about changed its name and moved to a new location, and another kept its name and moved to larger quarters. Many coworking spaces have blossomed, some additional spaces have popped up, and more are on the way, we hear.

We know that Anthony Frasier co-organizer of Brick City Meetup is working very hard on his vision to bring tech coworking to Newark and has asked for help from his community to bring this about.

Carlos Abad, who co-organized the Madison Tech Meetup said that several members of his group have expressed interest in joining a coworking space in the Madison area. As he put it, “this is a great environment for entrepreneurs and would be valuable to our community overall.” In our travels around the state we’ve also heard rumblings from Red Bank, from people interested in establishing coworking there.

While coworking doesn’t have to be a tech-only way of transitioning a business out of a home office, it’s well-suited for tech entrepreneurs who can rub elbows with fellow founders and developers and trade ideas. It’s a good way to get a tech community going. We know of several founders who found each other through coworking and others who found business partners to collaborate with there.

A recent example is Christine Curatolo, founder of Jumblzar, who has been a Mission 50 (Hoboken) member since December 2012 and Sara Himmelbaum, the founder of Mommies 247, a social networking organization for mothers, which she originally established in Hoboken.

The two women, working in a collaborative environment, found that there were some synergies in their businesses that could be useful to both. They went on to organize NJTechGals, a meetup group for women founders or those who’d like to be founders. Curatolo also discovered her technical cofounder Marcel Fahle, while working at the space.

And we can’t forget the contributions that coworking spaces make to the tech ecosystem. They are often the venue that hosts meetups, hackathons and learning opportunities. Cowerks, in Asbury Park, hosts the Jersey Shore Tech Meetup, the Jersey Shore Entrepreneurs and Investors Workshop, the NJ WordPress meetup and the Jersey Shore Facebook Developers Meetup.

In April Marathon Data Systems hosted a Come-Back-A-Thon there. On June 22nd Cowerks is hosting Hacking Asbury a 24 hour Hackathon where people can bring their laptops and work on anything they want. There will be talks, open office hours from specialists, and a multitude of other opportunities to get creative juices flowing.

Coworking is alive and well at JuiceTank in Somerset and at Tigerlabs in Princeton. Companies that call these spaces home benefit from a wide range of activities that surround them. We’ve seen Juicetank bring in experts to help their community members with task such as learning how to use Evernote to establishing a WordPress blog.

Tigerlabs companies benefit from a rich array of entrepreneurial activity around them. In fact, almost all of the active coworking spaces work hard at providing enrichment for the benefit of their members.

We don’t want to think that we’ve covered the range and possibilities of coworking in NJ in this editorial. We know, for example, that developer Craig Caruso sometimes works out of the (Co)Working Space in Woodbridge and that there are other entrepreneurs all over the state taking advantage of other facilities.

However, we’d like to encourage tech entrepreneurs particularly to come out from their basements or garages, stop working in a vacuum, and give coworking a try—even if it’s only a day a week.

The more tech entrepreneurs that settle in proximity to each other, the more collaboration gets done, and the more of a startup tech ecosystem we will develop here in New Jersey.

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