Do North Coworking Looks to the Future

Do North CoworkingLYNDONVILLE- The Do North coworking space on the second floor of the former Bag Balm factory in Lyndonville recently hit four months since its opening, and according to its head, the space has been a great success.

 "It's been going very well," said Evan Carlson, Do North's Entrepreneur-in-Residence. "We've been growing membership and attracting people from all different careers and types of work."

The coworking space currently has 18 paying members with an average of 4-5 coming in per day. Members pay a fee starting at $100 per month and Do North hopes to have 28 members by the end of the year. "It should be pretty easy to tackle that part if we get the right marketing in place for it," said Carlson, noting that membership has been increasing month over month.

The space's members aren't only from the immediate area, either. "Surprisingly we're getting members that are coming from as far as Boston," Carlson said. "We get quite a few weekend warriors that are coming up and want to spend the afternoon on Friday working," with the rest of the space's membership made up of locals who either work remotely for organizations outside the area or run their own businesses from inside the space.

When asked what draws people to Do North, and to coworking, Carlson pointed to the space's ability to bring people together. "It's more of a sense of community. It's the idea that if you're working at home as a remote worker you might talk to people on a conference call... but you'd find a couple people saying that they get real close and comfortable with their animals and they're not speaking with humans on some days. So, our space gives people an opportunity to actually connect with other people."

And Carlson thinks the benefits of a coworking community extend beyond the space's walls, too.

"I think that's a really important thing to look at for the expansion of the community in general, to try and bring new people in to a place where they can immediately drop in to a group of people that can get them connected into the broader community," he said.

To bring the community together further, Do North has also been holding events and programs for area residents. "We recently had the Northeast Kingdom Young Professionals Network here, which brought 30 or 40 young folks into the space to talk about the future of the Northeast Kingdom," said Carlson.

And the space is planning even more programs for this summer, including seminars, coding and programming camps, and a program called Co-Starters, which Carson describes as a "9-week entrepreneurship course targeted at people with ideas for businesses; giving them an opportunity to really dive deep on an idea and learn if it's a viable product or viable business option."
Looking beyond the summer, Carlson said Do North has recently begun long-term strategic planning. Just this week, a new staff member started at the space to run day-to-day operations. "It does sound really exciting. It sounds like there's some opportunity for influencing the program and building it out," said Jillian Sewake, the space's new operations coordinator.

With day-to-day operations handled, Carson said he'll have more time for programming and events.

"Ultimately," he explained, "the programming that we're trying to put on is ideally for the public, and to try to pull people into the space and get them into the ecosystem even if they don't have a real need to work inside the space 9-5 Monday through Friday. If there's different programs we can put on here that actually get people involved and get them thinking about entrepreneurship and ultimately other learning opportunities then we want to get them in here." 

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