By Tina Irgang
When you think of co-working spaces, you probably have in mind an incubator where startups can work together to get off the ground — or a hip, millennial-oriented space where freelancers congregate.
But Daymond John, the serial entrepreneur who is best known as one of the investors on ABC’s Shark Tank, had a different idea. In the heart of Manhattan, John has created blueprint + co., a co-working space that caters specifically to established companies.
Blueprint, which launched officially on Feb. 6, has already signed up several familiar brands, such as The Honest Company — which produces non-toxic baby care and other household products — and plus-size clothing retailer Ashley Stewart.
In the case of Ashley Stewart, “they have employees in Secaucus, NJ, but they want some of their millennial talent to be here, because you can’t often get millennials to get out to the suburbs,” says John.
Another tenant, Canadian e-commerce company Shopify, will keep its desk space at blueprint available as a service for top clients when they spend time in New York.
Altogether, blueprint houses about 150 desks, some 65 percent of which were spoken for by mid-February.
John himself occupies one of those desks, although he will not be able to work there full-time due to a full schedule of travel, he says.
What’s in it for the companies?
One of John’s goals in establishing blueprint was to create a place for established brands to launch collaborations. With The Honest Company, Ashley Stewart and another tenant, mattress retailer Leesa, all targeting a mainly female audience, there is potential for an exchange of ideas, he says.
Another advantage: “Companies don’t always want to open a huge office with a five-year lease” when they’re looking to establish a presence in New York, John notes. Blueprint asks its tenants for a commitment of at least three months. Based on each company’s needs, three different levels of membership are available.
Blueprint members have access to one-on-one meetings with John himself, his fellow Sharks and other entrepreneurs, such as marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk. “We’re having conversations about globalization and how the world is getting smaller with technology,” says John. “What platforms do we need to meet on? How are we converting social media over to our base? What are the financial instruments out in our market?”
For tenants looking to connect with vendors or professional-services providers, such as lawyers or PR professionals, blueprint can make introductions and negotiate a favorable rate.
A national brand in the making
“The goal is to expand this all around the country,” says John. “Because of the high levels of executives, the best cities are Boston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and Miami, and then we would probably expand to Middle America.”
However, in the more immediate future, there is potential for blueprint to grow within its current space at 214 W. 39th Street. “We have access to the entire building, so there will be some companies saying, ‘I love the idea, but I need 20 desks and two dedicated showrooms,’” says John. “We can build that out on the other floors.”
However much blueprint grows, John wants to stay true to the founding vision: “It’s a space for connected people.”
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