Howard Steinberg is a serial entrepreneur.
He started Source Marketing here in 1989. He sold his majority stake 9 years later, then created dLife — a multimedia diabetes education platform.
He rented office space all over town and near the train station. But after stepping down from dLife a year and a half ago to tackle new projects, his work environment changed.
He saw people at coffee and lunches. Yet his home office felt isolating and uninspiring.
Westport is filled with solo entrepreneurs and tiny companies operating out of basements and spare bedrooms. When Howard saw MadisonMott — the cutting-edge branding, advertising, digital and social media agency in Saugatuck — and realized there was 5,000 square feet of vacant space next door, his newest venture was born.
Westport Innovation Hub opens officially on September 1, but members begin working there this week.
Or — to be more precise — they “co-work” there.
The Hub is a place where creative people — entrepreneurs, investors and early stage businesses — can work on their own projects. But at the same time they support each other and share ideas. They may share capital too.
“Ideas will percolate. Things will emerge organically,” Howard says.
The organic percolation takes place in a wide-open, inviting workspace. Westporter David Murray designed yin-and-yang-shaped desks. They’re a far cry from the right-angles seen in offices for the last century — and they’ll go a long way to promote collaboration.
So will the kitchen/coffee bar, with its funky countertop.
Monthly fees range from $600 to $1,500, depending on the type of workstation. High-speed internet, cable, printers, copiers, conference rooms — and of course coffee — are included.
Those rates are competitive with area office suites, Howard says. But the work environment is much friendlier than separate rooms with walls and doors.
Howard says about half the people who have signed up so far had been working out of their homes.
He was one of them.
The other day though, he said “the 5 sweetest words in the world” to his wife: “I’m going to the office.”
(For more information on the Westport Innovation Hub, click here.)