As the coworking space/business incubator Startup City winded down in 2014 various community forums were held around Des Moines to hear what the startup community wanted next for its community.
Geoff Wood—who was coworking in Startup City—attended those meeting looking for a place to continue coworking. He heard a community that wanted low-cost/high density office space, a place for events like lunch and learns or startup weekends and a front door to the startup community, where newcomers can go to find entrepreneurs in town.
He wrote a blog asking if he could get 25 people to sign up, he’d take the risk and start a business.
So when Startup City closed at the end of August, Gravitate opened in downtown Des Moines on Sept. 1, 2014.
“What I didn’t realize then was September 1 was Labor Day,” Wood says. “So furniture companies didn’t deliver so there was like this weird day in between where we had to do some fancy things but we opened and have been growing ever since.”
Gravitate now has four people on the team and close to 100 paying members now. And it just opened its second coworking space in Des Moines on Thursday in the Valley Junction neighborhood.
Gravitate partnered with the non-profit organization the West Des Moines Business Incubator, who leases a building in Valley Junction.
“It’s better than a coffee shop”
Mallory DuPuy has worked from the downtown Gravitate location for nearly a year.
She moved from Florida last year to work for Insurance Social Media and said the community has helped be more involved around Des Moines.
“The community events that they do, I mean I’m on the Gravitate volleyball team,” DuPuy said. “And they have these other events that people host. It’s just been a really nice way professionally to network and be social.”
Derek Hoy works in an office for John Deere but serves on the board of the West Des Moines Incubator.
He called coworking spaces like Gravitate an, “Integral part to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
“It fits a really good niche between people who maybe aren’t grown into a full business but in that starting phase, or just a small enough business that they don’t need a full-blown dedicated space,” Hoy says.
Nate Levis says Gravitate is better than a coffee shop to him because it’s free of distractions.
He’s an independent contractor who can work remotely and said it’s neat how he can reserve conference rooms at Gravitate and has access to printers.
“It’s never busy but it’s busy enough,” Levis explains. “You don’t want it to be crowded but I’ve been impressed with how the downtown one is gone and this new space is nice. It’s going pretty well.”
Editors note: Geoff Wood is a founder of Clay & Milk, who has its office at Gravitate.