The most comprehensive listing of Madison coworking spaces
CoworkList is a new, one-stop spot to find information about all of Madison’s coworking locations.
What it is, simply enough, is a comprehensive online list of coworking spaces in Madison that’s free and accessible to the general public. “I was inspired by friends and acquaintances who moved to town and seeing them try to figure out where to get a desk,” explains Fritz. “I also had my own search for a space and would have killed for a list as succinct and helpful as CoworkList.”
Fritz grew up in Massachusetts and came to UW–Madison for to earn his undergraduate degree in computer science. He’s since worked primarily as an iOS and Unity3D developer making iPhone apps, indie video games, and augmented reality apps both for himself and clients, with his largest project to date being an indie video game called TumbleSeed.
According to Fritz, CoworkList developed from a quick, wiki-like page he made with a tool called Notion. He describes the original page as “dead simple,” something he threw together in a morning but people found immediately useful. That pushed him to turn it into a website so it had a more permanent home.
Though CoworkList right now only covers Madison, Fritz has a rough list of cities he’d like to add, which fall mostly into two camps:
- Cities with a lot of coworking spaces and a lot of people trying to find a coworking space, or
- Smaller cities with fewer coworking spaces, but fewer currently existing resources for people searching.
“Frankly, I’m not sure which archetype would be better to expand into, but I’m considering experimenting with both,” he notes.
Fritz acknowledges CoworkList is still very much a side project right now, but that doesn’t mean he’s not thinking through its growth strategy already.
Coworking spaces featured on CoworkList don’t pay to be listed, and the site currently runs no advertising. As such, it’s not making any money, but that’s not Fritz’s goal — yet.
“Right now, it’s a hand-built list. I have a Google Alert that keeps me relatively up to date, and people who run spaces I missed have reached out about being included. So far this has covered the bases well.
“My only goal right now is for CoworkList to be useful,” Fritz continues. “The goal I have in my head is: help people find spaces, help spaces find people. I’ve definitely thought about ways that CoworkList could become sustainable, though. I think relevant ads and sponsorships are the most aligned with the goals of the site.”
While coworking spaces are often associated with entrepreneurs seeking flexible places to host meetings and conduct work, Fritz doesn’t consider his own project to be a startup.
“Part of what I’m curious about is if it’s possible to build something sustainable that is mostly about aggregating information in a way that is helpful for all parties,” Fritz explains. “I think approaching that task with a startup mentality pushes you into a territory where you’re no longer focused on being as strictly useful as possible.”
Fritz offers a couple examples to prove his point, the first being reviews.
“In general, I dislike the concept of CoworkList ever having reviews. One of my least favorite things in the world is a restaurant suffering from one-star reviews due to ‘poor service’ that wasn’t actually poor at all. And then you see a restaurant with 4.5 stars that you know for a fact is not very good, but the business is good at pushing people to review positively on Facebook, Google, or Yelp.”
A second example is business models, and here Fritz points to another online resource for coworking spaces.
“Coworker.com is pushing their ‘Global Pass’ right now,” Fritz notes. “It’s a pass that will let you work at thousands of spaces across 100-plus countries. If you're a remote worker looking for a space in Madison, and you’re going to coworker.com for guidance on that, and coworker.com is focused on a business model that doesn’t match up with your needs at all, are you really going to have a great experience?
This doesn't mean that coworker.com or their pass is bad, adds Fritz, but he believes their incentives and business model that push them to be as globally exhaustive a resource as possible results in a lukewarm experience for a lot of people trying to find a coworking space. For example, coworker.com currently list eight spaces in Madison; CoworkList has 19.
“But of course the reason that businesses do these things is because they make them more immediately sustainable and profitable,” says Fritz. “Will CoworkList ever get to that point without leaning on those hooks? I don't know! It’s perhaps a quixotic hope that there is a sustainable model for sharing information that is more aligned with both businesses and customers. But here’s to hoping!”
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