Imagine working inside a physical nest, made of the sticks and debris you'd find in your back yard.
It might sound a bit nutty, but the entrepreneurs behind Nest Raleigh
, a new coworking space opening in April on Fayetteville Street are true to their concept. In addition to concrete floors, skylight-lit ceilings, exposed brick walls, painted murals and modern new furniture and technology will be a conference room-turned-nest in the center of their newest venture.
Founders Sean Newman Maroni
and Michael Hobgood
, CEO and chief design officer respectively, of the Raleigh education tech startups Betabox and Betaversity
, fell into the opportunity to add real estate entrepreneur to their skill sets late last year. When they considered places for their growing company to expand, they met Bobby Lewis
of Raleigh Development Company and learned of the vacant building he'd recently renovated on Fayetteville Street. They were mostly familiar with its street-level tenant, cocktail bar Common 414.
Lewis had struggled to lease the building despite its location steps from City Plaza and relatively affordable price. What it needed, says Maroni, was a new vision. It needed to look as industrial and architectural as HQ Raleigh and Industrious, while keeping a reasonable price point. Despite the influx of new co-working spaces in the Triangle in 2015, he was convinced there was enough demand in the community for another one—and especially, that he could add to the diversity of options in downtown Raleigh.
Trained as an architect, Hobgood tweaked the building's design to include ceiling skylights and a staircase connecting the two floors in the center of the building (under construction now). The men tore off (most of) the drywall covering brick interior walls, and set plans for an artist to cover them with a mural. They also contacted the North Carolina Museum of Art about creating an art installation similar to the nest-like piece in its restaurant dining room.
Within about 8,500 square feet of space on two floors will be 12 suites of various sizes, room for anywhere from three to 12 desks each with some unique feature (a window or quiet area or art piece). There will be 2,000 square feet for coworking desks and a kitchen and bar, as well as conference rooms, each named after a bird. Instead of "phonebooths" for making calls, there will be "sales rooms" with places to sit down and do a software demo with a computer. The men are open to other ideas as they finalize plans for the space.
The Betabox team will move from HQ Raleigh into the space—they'll continue to manufacture and store their Betaboxes at the Raleigh Arts Collective. Maroni will handle leasing and operations and he's traded an office space in return for community management, marketing and event help from Tim Rosenberg of the design firm Quillor.
According to Maroni, the only real criteria for additional tenants is a love of downtown Raleigh. He's open to people building scalable startups or physical products like Betabox, as well as engineers and designers. He hopes to connect with larger RTP companies that might want to set up a small innovation incubator space in the building for "intrapreneurs."
Prices for private offices will be similar to HQ Raleigh's, averaging at around $300 per desk. Co-working rates are still under consideration, Maroni says. The team might consider a pay-as-you-go option or a membership structure, or some version of the two. More details will be set before a soft launch party
February 20 in the space.
Regardless of the pricing, Maroni says he's not in it to make money. Betabox and Betaversity remain his focus.
"This is more of a contribution to the mission of Raleigh to be a top five entrepreneurial hub, and to increase the diversity of options," he says. "It's a homegrown Raleigh space that can be another tool we have and story to talk about and place to do events downtown."