When the pandemic struck last year, the typical buzz of activity at Geekdom’s downtown coworking space fell quiet as its members fled to home offices. Now as these entrepreneurs and their staffs begin to return, they’ll find a transformed space.
Geekdom has overhauled its offices with a new layout, COVID-19 precautions, and a host of upscale, Texas-made furniture. The physical changes come as the nearly 10-year-old startup incubator seeks to resume its pre-pandemic development schedule.
“Collaboration and interaction are key to what we do,” Geekdom CEO Charles Woodin said, and the new changes are meant to further encourage it in a safe way.
Among the physical renovations are new conference spaces, a portable privacy booth, rearranged desks, and new lighting.
The organization partnered with Vari, a Coppell, Texas-based furniture maker, to furnish the entire office. Geekdom previously used comparatively cheap IKEA furniture, such as a $38 office chair.
For those members that pay the premium to reserve a desk, they are now offered an electronically adjustable stand-up desk, fitted with Plexiglas partitions. The area for these assigned desks has been moved to a more central location because they were previously isolated on the floor above, Woodin said.
The price for reserving a desk has also been increased by $50 to $300 per month.
Two new plans have also been added, in addition to the standard member plan which continues to be $50 a month. One is a package offer that includes parking and mail, and the other is a virtual membership that the organization hopes will be inviting to startups outside of the San Antonio area.
Many of the organization’s members still use virtual options such as Slack to collaborate between ventures.
Before the pandemic, more than 100 members filled the office space on a typical day. The collaborative atmosphere encouraged members to mentor younger startups and to mingle with one another. Two members even got married.
“The pandemic complicated that collaboration,” Woodin said. Membership dropped from a high of 1,800 to around 1,500, and the number of people coming to the office dropped to 20 or so. Since then, new COVID-19 measures have raised that number back into the 40s.
Geekdom requires members to take a weekly COVID-19 test before they can come into the office for extended periods. The tests are provided for free through Community Labs – a venture of Geekdom co-founder Graham Weston – which used Geekdom as an early pilot program before expanding to schools and other entities in the area.
Looking ahead to the coming year, Woodin says Geekdom is resuming plans that were waylaid during the pandemic.
Chief among them is establishing a road map for new startups to follow that would plot a suggested course through the organization’s scattered workshops and mentoring programs.
In another goal, the organization hopes to help register 100 new limited liability companies through a free legal clinic it is now hosting quarterly. The first clinic was held last Thursday when 25 new LLCs were formed.
This article has been updated to correct the price for reserving a desk at Geekdom.