WeWork, the well-heeled shared-workspace company, is aiming to land more Twin Cities tech startups as clients by offering free space in the Capella Tower in downtown Minneapolis.
The New York-based company on Thursday will announce an initiative with Beta.MN, a nonprofit organization that promotes and supports local tech firms, to identify and sort companies to establish a temporary office in some of the workspaces that WeWork offers at its Capella site.
Called Beta/Space, the companies that are selected will get six months of rent-free space and have access to other perks that WeWork provides its clients, such as access to events and discounted rates for business software like QuickBooks and Slack.
“Beta/Space will not only be home for the area’s top entrepreneurs and startups to work, but it will serve as a place where they can grow their companies, connect with each other and build a community, all of which happen to be WeWork’s core offerings,” Megan Dodds, WeWork’s Midwest general manager, said in a statement.
WeWork has some similar promotional assistance efforts in other cities. In Detroit, for instance, it offers space and services to startups involved in autonomous, connected, electric or shared transportation technologies. In other cities, it offers free space to military veterans who are starting companies.
Eight Twin Cities tech companies will be the first to take part in the Beta/Space initiative. They are Cytilife, deltPro, Inkit, HydraFPV, Process Bolt, Starting 11, Thrivors and UR Turn.
In the Twin Cities, WeWork is battling a growing field of competitors and a changing scene. For years, CoCo, the local pioneer in co-working space that is now known as Fueled Collective, held a firm grip as the launchpad for tech startups. CoCo started in St. Paul, expanded to the former trading room of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, then to sites in Uptown, northeast Minneapolis and Chicago. As Fueled Collective, it has morphed into providing a broader range of services for entrepreneurs, including social spaces and activities.
Meanwhile, Spaces, a Dutch-based co-working space provider, has entered the North Loop. Female-only co-working spaces have opened in the North Loop and Bryn Mawr neighborhoods.
A St. Paul skyscraper, now called Osborn370, was remade with co-working and other flexible spaces to attract tech startups.
Life Time recently said it will start offering co-working space near its fitness clubs in downtown, St. Louis Park and Edina. And numerous local developers — as recently as Ryan Co.’s makeover of St. Paul’s O’Gara’s announced Monday — are including co-working space in their plans.
Nels Pederson, managing director of Beta.MN, said the initiative with WeWork will pull some tech founders out of coffee shops. “Early-stage firms in these markets are eager to be around each other and pushing themselves to be successful. Beta/Space will be a key hub to cultivate and deliver the next great Twin Cities startups,” Pederson said in a statement.