By now most of Montreal’s technology community has heard about the Station C coworking space being setup by Patrick Tanguay and Daniel Mireault. Patrick especially has been blogging about it since forever, talking about it at BarCamp and related events, and annoying his girlfriend about it.
Last week, I sat down to interview both of them at Laïka, which gave me a pretty good idea of the disadvantages of working in cafés (not that Laïka is particularly bad or anything). Right after our interview they walked over and signed the lease, which means they’ve passed the point of no return and the project is officially going ahead.
My article on Station C appears in this morning’s Gazette (Page B3):
Their jobs didn’t exist 20 years ago. Their offices consist of a laptop and a cellphone. And they want to work from anywhere but home.
They’re freelance geeks, and they’re wandering the streets looking for a place to work. You can see them lugging their laptops to cafés, buying coffee in return for a table, a power outlet and a few hours of wireless Internet.
But Web developers Patrick Tanguay and Daniel Mireault are getting tired of setting up offices in cafés. It’s loud and uncomfortable, the Internet access can be slow or unreliable, there are no printers or office supplies and no place to meet clients privately.
So two years ago, Tanguay and Mireault started toying with the idea of setting up an office that freelancers and telecommuters could share, even though they’re all working on different projects for different people.
It’s called co-working, and it’s already caught on in Toronto, Vancouver and dozens of other cities in the United States and Europe.
I noticed during our interview that there are two types of people at Laïka: those who come to socialize and those who come with laptops to work or study. Some try to do both, but end up looking at their laptop screens more than their friends.
For those who are interested, other Canadian coworking spaces include:
The Network Hub (Vancouver): An incubator for Internet startups, The Network Hub offers an office for people with big ideas and small budgets. It provides funding and administrative services in exchange for 5 to 10 per cent equity in the company.
WorkSpace (Vancouver): Describing itself as “more like a club than an office,” WorkSpace is the first coworking space in Canada that runs as a business. Membership ranges from $95 to $695 per month. It also accepts drop-ins at $25 per half-day or $35 per day.
Indoor Playground (Toronto): Open since February, Indoor Playground is a non-profit space for working, collaboration and events. Rates from $50 to $300 per month, and there are day rates for individual workers or groups.
Centre for Social Innovation (Toronto): Offers private desks and shared desks for $75 to $350 per month. The centre’s goal is to encourage new ideas that foster social change, and it is home to over 100 community and non-profit organizations.
Queen Street Commons (Charlottetown): A member-owned non-profit space in a century-old three-story Victorian home, operating since the summer of 2005. Membership is $35 per month with a 12-month contract.