thoughts on a new coffee bar and venue in downtown roseburg, oregon

Monday, April 28, 2008

Crowd-sourcing a music festival

This is another one of those 'it was just a matter of time' things...

We've gone over how to crowdsource places and scenes, but not events. Well, here's a real world example in Scotland...

The Tennent's Mutual is a music festival with a quarter of a million $ budget (this can obviously be scaled smaller or larger depending on your market)... that its founders will allow music lovers to "shape, create and dictate gig provision - from selecting artists and debating locations to calling the shots on ticket prices."
Sponsored by Tennent's Lager, the 'crowdmanaging' opportunity is free, and its advisors include the likes of the Rolling Stones' Andrew Loog Oldham, so there goes the myth that this is only for college students.

Another one of the advisors, Stewart Henderson from Chemikal Underground, comments on the rengen-like impact, "This is a total watershed time that we're living in at the moment. It will change things completely--irreversibly. What Tennent's has done is they've effectively set themselves up as patrons. It's a positive thing as it allows things to happen that may not have otherwise."

Profits from this event will fund the next one. One can just see a viral loop network forming soon...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Attract more creatives with 'anchored coworking'

Creatives, free agents, entrepreneurs and mobile knowledge workers may be driving the economy, but they aren't going to be driving to work. They prefer avoiding isolation at home, but there are only so many coffeehouses, and even fewer coworking sites.

One growing source of spontaneous workplaces are anchored coworking sites - coworking sites provided by established companies who not only have extra space, but enjoy reserving it for untethered creatives. PSFK: Trends and Inspiration profiles several such examples in their recent article, A Deeper Look at Coworking.

What're the benefits of anchored coworking sites?
- For once, it doesn't take much additional investment or planning because the anchoring firm has already done so for itself (ie general lease, network printer, internet, phones, etc.)
- Second, the anchor company is often open to collaborating with its itinerant tenants, and thus will choose those with like-minded interests - a win-win proposition.
- Third, it's a heckuva lot faster, easier and much less risky with a more ubiquitous supply when you're talking about companies with extra desks vs starting completely from scratch.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

coffee house as office

Third place coffeehouses as economic development

I first profiled Tryst back in 2003 as a popular coffeehouse third place in Adams Morgan, Washington DC. But five years later, ten years after it first opened, it's not only become a neighborhood institution, but it really should be seen as a contemporary model for job creation.

Here's the big picture:

1. A majority of big businesses come from small businesses, and small businesses are started by entrepreneurs... from their homes.
2. Many (not all) entrepreneurs who tried working exclusively from home will tell you one thing - it sucks. No human interaction, no place for meetings, no escape from spending most of your life stuck at home.
3. Coworking sites are ideal, but are often too pricey for the budding entrepreneur.
4. Thus, enter coffeehouses with free wifi and staff trained not to bug you too often if you've decided to park there for most of the workday. The good news is they're packed with entrepreneurs all day. The bad news is that they're not very profitable until they leave.

In the meantime cities are investing tons of capital in contrived business incubators that often fail. Why not redirect that capital into economic development tax breaks for coffeehouses that provide evidence of effectively acting as free workplaces for entrepreneurs?

On the one hand, Tryst makes no money before 6 pm. On the other hand one can't get a seat during the day. It seems to be an economic travesty not to have enough workplaces for the neighborhood entrepreneurs. Proactive cities will overcome this, but it obviously hasn't happened in Adams Morgan yet.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Simultaneous development of district

Crowdsource a tool to support local indie retail districts

What makes 'organically-grown' retail and entertainment districts (natural cultural districts) so cool? A lot of it has to do with the presence of local, independent businesses, you know, the shabby chic coffeehouses, restaurants with live music and neighborhood events, unique shops with cafes...

Many of you are also now familiar with crowdsourced placemaking, especially one specific business, one building, and one district at a time. But what if you wanted to make a difference to invigorate all of the local indie businesses in the natural cultural district within your own neighborhood, and you wanted to do it now?

Let's crowdsource a tool and system to do just that, shall we?

Let's start with a sponsor and an existing prototype a few triple-bottom-line businesses co-developed, such as a 'TV guide' and directory web portal and crowdsourcing tool for all the events, experiences, scenes and third places in your retail district that exist... and don't exist.

The effort to date is resulting in a vision to make it vastly affordable for all main streets, mass customizable, highly googleable, with Amazon-like user reviews/ratings of all the businesses and events, the ability to suggest missing events on the 'TV Guide', and the opportunity to crowdsource the missing venues that the local creative patrons collectively feel are sorely needed... In Adams Morgan, Washington DC, a willing candidate for this program, it's a bakery; another great coffeehouse because the present one's too crowded; a larger performance theatre; more legitimate places to buy clothes...

The incentive to join this crowdsourcing effort, in line with the Think Local First campaign (which I guess fittingly doesn't have a national website) and perhaps the National Main Street Center, is not only the chance to customize a program to help revitalize your neighborhood commercial center, but every contributor gets a tenth off the eventual cost, the top ones win a third to half of the eventual cost, some even free.

Email to participate via the email link in the right column.