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New Entrepreneurial “Incubator” Space Coming to 14th and Florida

By Ben Lasky*

Accompanying images can be viewed in the current issue PDF

A new co-working space called WorkDistrict is opening on 14th Street in January, in what co-founders Patrick Menasco and Paul Ballas believe will be much different from similar enterprises in the area.

According to their press release, what sets the company apart is a low overhead, which will make it far cheaper than other co-working spaces, and thus far more appealing to a wide variety of businesses: “For less than the cost of two lattes a day, our members get collaborative work space, a street address, internet access and office support.

WorkDistrict will be occupying the entire second floor of this building at 2217 14th Street, NW, just below Florida Avenue. The space, formerly occupied by the DC transportation department’s Urban Forestry Administration, will be large enough to accommodate work spaces for 85 entrepreneurs.

According to Menasco, another way WorkDistrict is different from other enterprises is that it is the only co-working space in the country to use crowdfunding; the raising of small amounts of capital by many individuals through web-based investments. The company is working with Crowdfund Capital Advisors in order to help in these efforts.

Congress legalized crowdfunding in its 2012 JOBS Act, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is expected to implement regulations about crowdfunding during 2013. (For an extended report about this measure signed into law on April 5, 2012, visit http://tinyurl.com/as5gsgm for a comprehensive Forbes magazine report.

Other co-working enterprises, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, do raise funds through website donations, but not operating capital. However, with the SEC’s regulations expected to be issued in the coming year, Menasco believes this is a perfect time for WorkDistrict to open its doors.

“Someone who has a small business can announce that they need $5,000 or $20,000 for the capital, and they can [raise] it through these platforms. . . . It would be very much like a Kickstarter or Indiegogo, except you can actually invest in the product, and if the product does well, you can reap the reward for it,” Menasco told The InTowner.

Both co-founders believe 14th Street is the perfect location for WorkDistrict. “Right now the real estate on 14th Street is getting very, very expensive, and we were lucky enough to get space in a building right on 14th Street that allows us to provide this space in an economical manner.”

But the business partners desire to be located where they are is not only about real estate, but the types of members who will potentially work in the space. “It is the young, vibrant part of the city, and it’s where the people we are trying to attract are living,” Menasco said. For more information, visit www.workdistrict.com.

*Ben Lasky, a contributing writer for The InTowner, studied  communications and journalism at The American University.

Copyright (c) 2012 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Ben Lasky. All rights reserved.