Work in progress
Tired of working at home in your underwear? Reno Collective offers a collaborative workspace for freelancers
A few weeks ago on a Wednesday afternoon, Ed Adkins and Colin Loretz found themselves drinking beer and eating pizza in their new offices on 250 Bell St. The building is a hub for grassroots movements and homespun Reno businesses. Most notably, it houses the Cathexes architecture firm—the firm responsible for Victorian Square, the Fifth Street Starbucks and West Street Market. Mike Maloney from Amendment 21 brought Adkins and Loretz the lunch as a housewarming gift for their new place, and the two entrepreneurs couldn’t be happier.
That day, Adkins and Loretz ambled through the corridors of their new space, pointing out where things would go and which rooms would be what. Loretz is tall with unforgettable red hair. Adkins has a lanky gait and sports a “stache” that rivals many. He picks up where Loretz ends, finishing his sentences and summarizing both their ideas. Their close-knit relationship is something that’s needed as they share a clear vision for their new business of creating a thriving creative culture in Reno. This is where Reno Collective, their newest venture, begins.Social work
About two years ago, Adkins and Loretz both had day jobs working in the website and marketing industries. Every Friday, the two met at Se7en Teahouse to work on side-projects and personal freelance efforts. The café environment, however, wore them down. They had no way of knowing if they’d have a booth, no way of controlling the noise. But at a home office, there was that lingering desire to get out of the house.
“After a while, the novelty of being able to work in your underwear wears off,” says Adkins. “You miss the social aspect. You miss the collaboration. You miss the energy that gets created when a bunch of smart, creative people are bouncing ideas off each other and helping each other.”
Wouldn’t it be a great, they thought, to start a place where you could share a space but not necessarily lose your entrepreneurial independence? The idea, as Loretz told Adkins one eventful Friday, had already been practiced in big cities all across the United States and beyond. New York, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle—even Mumbai—had all established “coworking facilities.” They took their idea to a friend, Susan Clark, and she introduced them to the Cathexes building.
Adkins and Loretz sponsored Reno-TahoeWordCamp this past spring, and roughly 100 people came to learn more about the web publishing program WordPress. That was equal, if not bigger, than Las Vegas’ camp.
“We have a lot of talented people, but we didn’t know about them,” says Loretz, who’s the chief architect for his business Lively Labs. “The Reno WordCamp that we did last year was kind of the first thing that said we have a tech community in Reno. Reno is not known for having a tech community.”
Another of their ventures is Ignite Reno. In Ignite Reno, locals present five-minute slideshows about something they are passionate and knowledgeable about. Ignite has achieved great success in Seattle and Portland. Adkins and Lorentz thought, Reno has innovative people. Why not start an Ignite Reno, too? The same idea was applied to Reno Collective. Why not here? Why not now?
Reno Collective could be a hallelujah moment for Reno freelancers and work-at-homers. If you need a quiet, solitary space, this may not be the place. Reno Collective is, in simple terms, a co-working community with creative collaboration. Self-employed freelancers have taken a toll on their social lives by working alone at home, and sometimes, a café just doesn’t cut it. Reno Collective is a place to come and work at an appropriate desk, share the coffee maker and the copy machine, and hopefully, share some ideas.
It’s been about a year since the two seriously began planning for Reno Collective. After failed loan attempts, a number of trips to other co-working facilities and meetings, and writing emails and business plans, they finally got keys to their new space. Although the work was difficult, it could have been much harder. One of the beauties of the co-working community is the open sourcing of ideas. Adkins and Loretz were privy to other facilities’ business plans, finances, contracts, etc. The cooperative spirit has allowed a big reduction in everyone’s overhead.
“When we started Lively Labs, we could go get an office, and it would probably cost us $1,500 to $2,000, and then we have the overhead of having to have our own internet, having to have all the different things we need to run a company,” says Loretz. “Instead, if we open it all at Reno Collective, everybody’s sharing, everybody is benefiting from that. And now, instead of opening the office for $2,000 a month, small companies can open for $200 to $300 a month.”
The Reno Collective recently opened its doors to the community. Members can sign month-long or year-long contracts, starting at $150 a month. The starter package includes a first-come, first-served desk, unlimited coffee, paper printing and wireless internet. For $300 a month, members also get a mailing address and a reserved desk. There are conference rooms for those who need it. Drop-ins are $10 a day.
Already, businesses have caught on. A local strategic planning and website development company has signed on to rotate its entire staff through the Reno Collective offices. Local photographer David Calvert told Loretz the new place is “going to add to the community,” and he is quickly becoming a regular.
After looking at large and small places—some too small and needing renovation, others much too big and too pricey—they found the Cathexes building was just right, with its downtown location and urban vibe.
“It’s hard for a client to come in here and say, I want a bunch of tan stucco arches,” says Cathexes founder and owner Don Clark. “You kind of want to hold their heads up and just have them look around a little.”
In the back end of the building, there’s a gym and basketball court. The wall behind the reception desk is purely green wine bottles stacked against the wall—all bottles Cathexes tenants have drunk.
“We’re freelancers because we don’t accept that we have to spend eight hours a day or more, five days a week in an uninspiring, restrictive space,” says Adkins. “So this building is the antithesis of that.”
Above all, Reno Collective seeks to foster an environment where people can congregate while working on their own projects but meet each other if they want to start something bigger.
“There’s something about Reno, and there’s something about downtown,” says Adkins. “I feel that in five years we’re going to be better at being Portland or Austin than Portland or Austin. We’re quirky, and we got a lot going on. We’re filled with opportunity. We’ve been ready to explode for a long time.”