Space of the Month: Interview with Felena Hanson from Hera Hub

Jul 4, 2012

Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Open since: 15/08/2011
Size: 5000 sq feet
Desk Seats: 20
Meeting Rooms: 2
Event Capacity: Up to 200 guests

Cobot: How did the idea of opening a coworking space take shape in your mind?

Felena: It really grew out of my need. I worked from home for eight years, and while it’s great for the convenience, and is of course cost effective as a small service based business, it has its downfalls.

It can be distracting and isolating working from home… laundry and dishes nag at me, the dog whines, the doorbell rings… anything to take my attention away from what I NEED to be doing!

I was turned on to the concept of coworking in 2008, when I hosted a networking event at San Diego’s first coworking space, the Hive Haus. It wasn’t until a couple years later when I began to really study the model, visiting coworking spaces in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

It took me approximately 12 months from the time I decided to launch the business to the point where I completed my business plan, secured financing (which came from personal savings and a loan from a close family member) and solidified my first location.

C: What were the main difficulties you had in the beginning? How did you solve these issues?

F: The commercial real estate process was much more complex and challenging than I ever imagined. I had two strikes against me — new business & new concept… no one wanted to take a risk.

After six months of negotiation and two failed lease negotiations (both in the eleventh hour), I’m happy to say that the third time really is a charm! Through the help of my network and my tenacious broker, Misty Moore, from Jones Lang LaSalle, I was finally able to secure close to 5,000 square feet in a very desirable location. It was double the size and twice the risk but I feel confident that the gamble will pay off.

C: Tell us about your space: what’s it like? What’s your philosophy? What kind of people work there?

F: Hera Hub is a natural extension of what I’ve done my entire career — collaboration. It is shared workspace for accomplished, like-minded entrepreneurial women.

It’s more collaborative than an executive suite, more professional than working from Starbucks, more focused than working from home, and more flexible and cost effective than full-time office space.

Hera Hub offers hourly, daily, and monthly work and meeting space for freelancers, independent consultants, entrepreneurs, and authors. Hera Hub, much like a business accelerator, gives women the visibility, resources, and sense of community they need to take their business to the next level.

I truly believe that women interact differently and are instinctively more collaborative in their approach to business. I felt it was important to create a space for female entrepreneurs that is not only beautiful, comfortable, and feminine, yet also very professional.

We have 150 active members at our Sorrento Valley, San Diego Hera Hub office. We pride ourselves on the diversity of our member base including artists, lawyers, financial advisers, developers, non profits…

C: From the management point of view, what were the main difficulties you faced? How did cobot help you?

F: We have a lot of reservations, so cobot helps us organize this. We also use it to manage our memberships.

C: Do you have a day job, or are you exclusively dedicated to your space?

F: I now run the business full-time, setting aside my marketing clients and teaching… it feels good to FOCUS. I’m proud to say Hera Hub is a huge success! We grew to over 80 members (women owned companies) in just 12 weeks… and continue to grow!

C: If you could have an additional functionality in cobot, what would it be? What if you had to get rid of one of the features that are currently offered?

F: (laugh) I send a lot of requests for new features!

We will also start using RADIUS now, to track the usage of the space.

The only function that we really don’t use is the Day Passes, since HeraHub works with a membership plan.

The coworking community is reading: Is there any tip or trick you’d like to share, or some advice for aspiring coworking managers?

1. Determination — anything is possible, at least for those that are dedicated to making it happen
2. Be passionate — nothing is worth doing if you don’t do it well
3. Be sincere — people see through right through you
4. Trust your instinct — your first reaction to something is always right
5. Take everything head on — don’t be confrontational but don’t avoid
6. Follow through — your word is everything

And the most important: Coworking is about the Community, not about the space.


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