CONNECT's office and coworking space in UTC. Photo courtesy of CONNECT.

CONNECT's office and coworking space in UTC. Photo courtesy of CONNECT.

CONNECT, a local nonprofit focused on growing startups, is entering the coworking world with new shared workspace in San Diego.

The organization has desk space available for four to five new startups, and already houses three: Chalk Digital, Benefunder, and Agribody Technologies.

“At the end of the day we want to provide any resources we can for startups,” said Claire Bula, a spokesperson for CONNECT, in an email. “If space can be one of them, even if it’s only a few, we want to do that.”

Bula said startups that choose to work at CONNECT do not have to be going through the nonprofit’s accelerator program, Springboard. Anyone can apply.

CONNECT is entering quite a crowded real estate market when it comes to coworking spaces. San Diego already has over 50 shared office spaces — many of which have only recently opened.

Office space vs. community

In a 2016 interview, the CEO and president of CONNECT Greg McKee said he thought the coworking market was “overheating.” McKee’s main point, however, was that organizations can’t just offer desk space — they have to offer community and services as well.

“Innovation has never been about physical office space — it’s about ideas, technology, and connections to people,” McKee said.

CONNECT certainly focuses on those areas, and their workspace comes loaded with perks. Coworking tenants will have invitations to member showcases and events, member breakfasts, public policy briefings, and access to CONNECT’s Talent Match program, among other benefits. That’s on top of the usual coworking perks, like access to printers, Wi-Fi, conference rooms, and a dedicated desk space.

CONNECT is charging $485 per month and offering month-to-month agreements.

Meeting coworking needs in UTC

Although coworking spaces are booming in San Diego, Bula said there seems to be a shortage of these spaces in the University Town Centre area.

“We had inquiries from a few companies as to whether we would be willing to let them cowork with us because there aren’t enough coworking spaces in UTC and they didn’t want to move downtown,” Bula said. “We did allow a few companies to work at CONNECT to beta test the idea, and it went really well. So we thought we would open it up as an option to other companies.”