Never Work Alone

Sometimes working downtown can feel like an episode right out of Silicon Valley. What do you do if you don’t fit that life? According to a study done by MIT, the average age of entrepreneurs is 42 years old. So often we’re swept away with the image of Mark Zuckerberg building Facebook out of his dorm room that we forget that a lot of people don’t fit that stereotype.

Offices for Grown Ups

One of my favorite things about coworking spaces in North Austin is that it tends to be more of a “get things done” mentality. Duo Works is a welcoming space for all different kinds of people at different stages of their company. Several are bootstrapped companies and are serious about getting work done. When you have a family life and are just looking for an established space, driving downtown can be a process and not nearly as efficient. Therefore, you’ll find a variety of people of experienced people working on their 2nd career and had tried their hand at in the corporate world.

I was able to get a good amount of deep work in while visiting for the day as everyone is respectful of your space. Although it’s less of a social scene as other spaces like Downtown, a lot of collaboration between groups still happen. They consider themselves more of a coop versus a coworking space because of this.

Duo Work’s slogan is “Never work alone,” resonating to entrepreneurs who have worked remotely for several years. Jessica Merrill-Miller, one of Duo Works’ cofounders explains how she didn’t realize she needed the community until then. It’s a place to help you be better in your business without the formal program or stress.

Mom and Pop Run Like a Corporate Business 

While talking with Jessica I was impressed to learn about all the work that it took to set up Duo Works. It’s in the original building of Tech Ranch, which is still in existence and operational. Duo Works specializes only in coworking and leasing office space.

The idea started when Jessica was speaking at a SXSW event for her HR staffing company, Workology. She met her cofounder Linda, who had gone through the Tech Ranch program and officed out of the location previously. Soon after, Jessica was packing up her things and moved from Oklahoma to start up Duo Works. Her whole family pitched in to clean and paint the space. It really does have a mom and pop feel in how it was set up but they run it like a corporate business.

When they launched Duo Works, they were able to retain a lot of the members who continue to drive the growth in the community. When they transitioned to Duo Works, both Linda and Jessica have been very open and transparent with their community which I believe is why the space continues to prosper.


Who Should Go?

Duo works caters to people who are serious about getting things done and being efficient about it. For those who want to drive, there is plenty of parking. The interesting part about Duo Works’ location is that they’re situated in an area where it’s short driving distance that you can also commute by biking. Typically, you only get this option Downtown so it’s a perk for those who still like the close commutes but need the comforts of the suburbs. Jessica explains how there isn’t beer on tap as it isn’t something people care for. They set up the space as the best option to suit the community.

Another great differentiator of Duo Works is that they have great training and meeting spaces. Generally, you’ll find open spaces or glass walled conference rooms. Duo Works’ conference and meeting rooms are more traditional and private and are perfect for company events.


My Coworking Journey and the Opening of MELD

Written by Kay Dee and originally published in Austin Startups.

My dream has always been to work from home as a graphic designer, but little did I know, it’s not as great as it sounds. It certainly has its perks but what many people don’t realize is the extent to which you are constantlyalone.

When I worked from home, it was hard to differentiate home from work. It all blended together. It killed my productivity, creativity and I was always distracted by dishes, laundry, naps, cats, etc.

Then, I heard about coworking, but I wasn’t sure why I would pay for a desk when the one at home is just fine. Still, I knew I wasn’t completely satisfied. I decided to try it for a month anyway just to say that I tried. After a few days, I absolutely loved it (more on that later)! Once I was plugged into the space not only did my productivity skyrocket, I kept coming up with ideas of how and what I would do if I had my own cowork. I imagined a comfortable yet professional setting, a dash of creativity, an array of sit-to-stand desks, bouncy chairs, free premium coffee (& beer) and super-fast reliableinternet. I was dreaming about how I could organize events for entrepreneurs, masterminds for freelancers, and… well, my ideas just never stopped. 🙂

So, why did I open MELD Coworking?

Community. Location. Benefits. Amenities. Comfort. All of that! But, why would I strive to create my own space, personally? Because I love being around people. It brings me joy to provide tools and services to other entrepreneurs to flourish together, to create relationships through collaboration. The concept of coworking is just amazing — connecting people who work from home, providing office amenities necessary to thrive, and facilitating support from professional resources.

How & why in Central Austin?

With Austin booming, there’s not a lot of available options. Luckily, I found a few properties that sounded promising. As it happened, the very first property I visited is now MELD! At the time, it looked nothing like it does now. I mean, nothing. The house that is now the home to MELD was built residentially in the 1920s, and it was literally falling apart because it was poorly maintained. Despite its outward appearance, I just knew it had amazing potential for the space I dreamed of! It took 1 year and 4 months of renovation and remodeling to officially open as the coworking space you see today. It wasn’t always easy but that’s another story…

Selfishly, I wanted to co-work in Central Austin and to enjoy the convenience of walking to restaurants, bars, and retail shops. Being focused on community not only within our walls but in the neighborhood too, I talked with many local folks and discovered they were highly supportive of the concept too. It all came together. How amazing would it be to work from a place like home, take a lunch break with friends and casually stroll to check out the new eatery next door? Bonus: it has parking too? Done!

What does MELD look like now?

MELD is so Austin! It keeps as much of the original layout as possible and features a variety of rooms and nooks to work from. Some areas are bright with numerous windows, some are more dimly lit, in some you can listen to music and chit chat, other areas are completely quiet (with a hint of white noise) to allow for concentration. We use some rooms for events that are organized at least once a week, others for business meetings, and a few private booths for phone calls. You can choose whatever spot suits you for the day, then change it up the very next day!

The future of MELD

We’re continuing to grow our fantastic community with the plan to feature an expanding variety of entrepreneurs and freelancers who can collaborate, work, and grow together. Example: Are you a coding genius but need a little design help for your new website? Odds are there’s someone across the room from you who would be more than willing to help you out. And vice versa. The people around us offer fresh, outside opinions, ideas and assistance that we might not find in our company’s office, as well as have the potential to turn into future clients or partners. There is also the power of positive reviews. The people around us are aware of our work ethic, quality of work we produce, and could potentially need a service of ours. The close-knit relationships that are bound to form will likely lead to some of our best reviews, references and word-of-mouth marketing.

There is a constant opportunity for learning and growth in MELD, as well as the opportunity to be a part of a new community. It’s an overall sense of connection that just can’t be replicated inside of a home office. Plus, working alone can be drab, so a little bit of community goes a long way in enjoying your career.

I like to think of it like this: you can make coffee at home, enjoy coffee at a local coffee shop, or enjoy a coffee with friends at the local coffee shop. Well, MELD is the working equivalent of coffee with friends!