Interview With Tyler Ford, Founder At Industry Charlotte

Tyler began his career in the United States Marine Corps. After the marines, he spent thirteen years on the creative side of retail with one of the world's largest apparel companies. Tyler comes from a family of entrepreneurs and when Industry Charlotte opened becoming an entrepreneur felt like a natural fit and has been an exciting process.

Industry Charlotte

Industry Charlotte hosts a diverse clientele of solo entrepreneurs, remote workers and students up to large firms of up to fifteen people. They have everything from open flex desk memberships to one thousand square foot offices. They’re committed to their hashtag #buildsomething, and hope that their members create great things by being a part of the community.

What are the best things about coworking compared to a traditional office space? : There are obvious things that people like about spaces like ours, such as an emphasis on creative decor and layouts as well as opportunities to meet and collaborate with others. However, some things that our people enjoy about coworking are actually very much like what they experience in a traditional workplace. Relationships, regular conversations and sharing of personal lives with others that they spend most of their time with, etc. Our workers may be on their own, but they actually miss what a traditional workplace provides, which is having people in their work and personal lives on a regular basis.

Do you host events for your community?: Yes, we host both small and larger scale events. Small scale events could be regular happy hours or lunches that encourage our membership to get to know one another and develop relationships within the space. Large scale events are meetups that we host and promote as well as a number of outside events that we host as part of being a hub of activity for the local startup, small business, and entrepreneurial scene.

What were the earliest indications that this business could be successful?: The coworking space was filled and we were turning people away, To this day, after seven years, we continue to stay at 100% capacity and there is no shortage of individuals and small firms looking for space. Of course, we needed to also have a certain level of profitability, which has also been a highlight for our business.

What is your favorite coworking space you have been to in a different city? : American Underground in Durham, NC.

What is working best for your marketing right now?: Social Media and word of mouth.

Office Space NYC

What is your biggest differentiator compared to other coworking spaces?: Our space tends to be filled with people looking to get things done, to some degree more so than other coworking spaces that focus more on social connections and community. Probably reflective of the larger number of small to mid-size firms that we have in our space, where most others are focused on open flex memberships and 1-2 person offices. We certainly work to foster a great sense of community and social connection, but our folks are perhaps a bit more "serious" about starting and/or growing their business or organization

What is the toughest decision you've had to make in the last few months?: To commit to event space that will not serve "double-duty" as a workspace, i.e. only generate revenue from events. It has created another separate business to manage and maintain, whereas we previously held events in a space that served as a coworking area during business hours. So far, so good.

If it was possible, what advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?: Grow faster, charge more. Each time we have grown our space by moving to a new location we have outgrown it almost immediately. Hindsight is always 20/20, but it would have been better to take on more space and grow the business more quickly now knowing the demand.

Other than coworking? To spend more time on gaining rich experiences rather than riches. Or at least putting relative riches to work on creating experiences instead of obtaining stuff.

How did you meet your co-founders or business partners?: All of my investors were members in our space, so they are now both personally and professionally invested in our space.

What are some of the best things about your coworking community?: Great sense of ownership of our space...they came about the community, welcoming newcomers and taking care of the place. They have experienced good things in our space and are good evangelists for the idea and our place in particular.

What book are you most likely to give as a gift?: Purple Cow, Seth Godin...I give it as a gift all the time.

Coworking Charlotte

What is your favorite small business in your neighborhood? : Sub One. Tiny little sub shop, owned by the same gentleman and his family for 50 years. Great staff who gets to know you. Just awesome to see an entrepreneur who has created a following and sustained a business for so long. He's there every day and you can't imagine that he ever wants a day off.

What is your favorite app or online tool?: Instagram. Love documenting things with photos and videos and love seeing my friend and family do the same.

What was the best event that you recently attended?: Local festival...loved spending the time with my family.

What business would you love for someone else to start?: There is never iced tea in a stadium...only beer and soft drinks. I know the infrastructure is set up for those types of beverages, but sometimes you just want a sweet tea.

What advice do you have for new business owners?: Get an accountant and tax person. Stay on top of your numbers so that you can worry about more important things that only you can do.

Twitter: @industrycowork

 

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