San Diego-based Hera Hub, which provides women who work for themselves a working space where they can share ideas and meet with others, has signed its first franchise agreement.
The growing trend known as co-working, where people share a professional workspace, is catching on in the United States, Europe and Asia.
As of 2013, more than 110,000 people were working in nearly 2,500 co-working
spaces, according to Deskmag.com. Compared with 2012, there are 83 percent more co-working spaces serving a total of 117 percent more members.
The idea of creating co-working spaces where independent workers can come together and collaborate is also catching on in other parts of San Diego. The San Diego Coworking Alliance on its website has a list of co-working spaces throughout the county, providing various types of support, such as technical support for entrepreneurs and early-
Felena Hanson started Hera Hub three years ago this August after being laid off three times from previous jobs in marketing. The concept of providing female-focused shared office space in a spa-inspired workspace quickly took off.
The Zen-like environment featuring candles, soft music and running water resonated with women while enabling them to be productive.
“The focus is on collaboration and community,” Hanson said. “We are a community first, and we want to build a strong community where women can come and can launch and grow a business and get support from others.”
More than 300 female business owners, employees and students are now members of Hera Hub, and as such they can use the office locations in Sorrento Mesa, Mission Valley and Carlsbad. Members pay monthly dues that range from $69 a month for community access to up to $369 for 80 hours. Hanson said the average member pays $150 to $200 to use the workspace a couple of days a week and host client meetings.
Hera Hub also offers workshops and networking sessions for professional development.
Expansion by Franchise
After three years of building her business, Hanson is franchising the concept, having signed her first franchise agreement in April with Julia Westfall, who plans to open a Hera Hub office in Washington, D.C., in November.
Hanson’s vision is to enable more than 20,000 women to launch and grow their businesses at 200 locations over the next five years.
Westfall said she learned about Hanson
and Hera Hub by reading about her in a New York Times article and was immediately intrigued by the idea.
“I worked with small businesses for a long time and entertained owning my own small business,” said Westfall, who is the director of finance and human resources at a communications company in Washington. “I don’t think a lot of current co-working and executive suite options really provide all the options for women. It’s about building a collaborative working community and making sure the membership has a good mix of skills and business types, so that women can support each other.”
Hera Hub franchisees pay an upfront fee of $32,000 to start a franchise for the first 10 years, which gives them the “business in a box,” including training, marketing and branding, Hanson said.
The cost to buy a second franchise is $35,000 and $39,000 for a third, she said.
Westfall said she expects to invest $100,000, or three months of operating expenses, to get her franchise off the ground and grow the membership.
A Need for Space
According to a survey by MBO Partners, 30 percent of U.S. knowledge-based workers are independent, working as freelancers, consultants and entrepreneurs, and that number is expected to rise 60 percent by 2020.
The San Diego Coworking Alliance coworking spaces include the Ansir Innovation Center on Convoy Street, Co-Merge Workplace in San Diego’s financial district, Cyber Hive in downtown San Diego, 3RDSPACE in University Heights and Coworking Connection.
For more information on the San Diego Coworking Alliance, visit