|Chris Schultz, left, and Barre Tanguis are scouting downtown locations for a Lafayette office of Launch Pad, their New Orleans-based business co-op.|
The latest trend in urban workspace lands in downtown Lafayette
Driving back to New Orleans from the SXSW Interactive Conference in Austin, Chris Schultz and Barre Tanguis decided to stop in Lafayette for some research. They were exploring the idea of opening up another branch of their business, Launch Pad, a Crescent City-based office co-op designed for laptop professionals in need of a step up away from the coffee shop. While the business partners were scoping out Lafayette buildings, Schultz sent out a message on Twitter, asking followers what they thought of the idea of Launch Pad expanding to Lafayette. “Literally, within minutes,” Tanguis recalls, “while we’re walking around looking at some spaces, we got several messages back saying, ‘Absolutely.’”
Local tweets brought suggestions on buildings to look at.
“We’ve been using [Twitter] kind of for our market research,” Schultz says. “Essentially, it is market research. These people who are from Lafayette who we have relationships with online will hopefully become our members and join Launch Pad.” Last month, Schultz, in town as a panelist at the local Fiber Fête convention, announced at the event that Launch Pad would be coming to Lafayette. Last Friday, he and Tanguis were back in Lafayette narrowing their search for locations. The business has settled on the downtown area and is now in the process of negotiating the best deal between two or three possible buildings. “We’ll be downtown,” Schultz says, “Maybe even on Jefferson Street.”
Along with a third partner, Will Donaldson, Schultz and Tanguis opened Launch Pad last June in New Orleans. The business is one of several similar-minded work spaces cropping up in urban centers across the country. Members can rent an open desk, or a closed-door office, on a month-by-month basis, for set fees ranging from about $250 to $750 a month. The fee includes phone and Internet service, as well as shared amenities such as fax machines, conference rooms, a kitchen and even showers.
“There’s a big gap,” Schultz says, “between where a lot of people start a business, which is either in your bedroom or a coffee shop, and when you get your business to a size where you can sign a commercial lease.” Launch Pad comes on the heels of two other similar operations specifically designed for musicians and visual artists — the Tipitina’s Music Co-op and The Alamo — opening in Lafayette. Launch Pad’s concept caters more toward aspiring entrepreneurs, tech startups and traveling corporate refugees.
In New Orleans, Launch Pad is located in a high-ceiling building with exposed brick walls in the heart of the Warehouse District on Magazine Street called the I.P. (Intellectual Property). The I.P. was developed in part by New Orleans nonprofits hoping to create a hub for entrepreneurial, technology-centered companies. This June, Launch Pad is expanding to take up another floor in the I.P.
Launch Pad Nola, as it’s known, now rents workspace to 45 different companies and a total of 65 people.
At its Lafayette branch, the company plans to rent out 10 closed-door offices, 12 “permanent” or designated desks and 12 “co-working” desks, the most basic membership which provides Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. access. Lafayette will represent Launch Pad’s first expansion outside New Orleans. The company is also looking to possibly set up shop in Baton Rouge and Austin.
“There’s definitely a technology bent to a lot of the companies in Launch Pad,” Schultz says. “What got us interested in Lafayette in particular is the [LUS] fiber network. We think the timing is right and that Lafayette is really well positioned in the digital media space to create jobs.” Once the new office is established, the co-op hopes to run direct fiber connectivity between its Lafayette and New Orleans branches. The high-speed inter-connectivity would allow members in the two cities to connect through video conferencing, and instantly share large media files.
“We’re going to have to turn some screws to make it work,” Schultz says. “But I think it’s something that’s important to us both symbolically but also because we really believe that’s going to enhance what Launch Pad provides for our members; it’s what the clientele is going to want.” It’s these types of fringe benefits that Launch Pad prides itself on. In New Orleans, the office hosts several regular IT industry meet-ups, a weekly Web TV show spotlights the activities of different members, and members are constantly working together on projects and sending each other referrals. A recent market research study commissioned by Launch Pad showed that more than 70 percent of its members have seen their businesses grow since joining the community office.
“It’s almost like a work collective,” Schultz says. “[Members] are all their own companies, and they don’t work for Launch Pad, but we help to source deals for them and help them to grow their businesses. And there’s a real community that develops. That kind of collaborative spirit really, really enhances the experience and kind of accelerates the development of people’s businesses.”
Geoff Daily, who has been working with LUS Fiber as a consultant and was one of the co-organizers of the recent Fiber Fête event, says he met Schultz through the Net Squared New Orleans group and has been encouraging him to bring Launch Pad to Lafayette.
“I know there’s a built-in demand among the tech community in Lafayette for something like Launch Pad,” Daily says. “And I think it can definitely be helpful if it can become a kind of focal point for a lot of young guys to come together who may not be to the point where they actually have a full-fledged startup. In can give them a rallying point, and in particular give them a rallying point that can help build relationships between the creative technical professionals of Lafayette with the creative, technical professionals of New Orleans, which I think will be a real special thing.”
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 16, 2014:
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
Chris Williams knows how to pilfer from the public coffers, this time with a back-pay lawsuit filed three years ago against the Lafayette Housing Authority, which netted the former city-parish councilman a cool five figures.
McAllister's office vowed that he intended to stay in office — for now. As for questions about whether he would stand for re-election in November, those were dodged.
The Green Army's Lafayette brigade has announced it will pay a visit Friday morning to Sen. Page Cortez to urge him to vote against Sen. Robert Adley's SB 553, which the group is calling the "Big Oil Bailout Bill of 2014."