For communities throughout the country that want to better support entrepreneurs and drive new business growth, establishing a coworking space is often an early step to attracting and uniting entrepreneurs. CoWorking Knoxville founder Frank Ramey saw an opportunity in his community to help create a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem. We spoke with Frank to learn how his coworking space supports more collaboration among local startups and small businesses.

Why did you decide to open a coworking space?

We wanted to help build a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Knoxville. While we’ve got some great organizations to help support our entrepreneurs, Knoxville didn’t really have a space for them to get stuff done and collaborate.

Tell us about your space. What kinds of amenities does it have? What makes it unique?

CoWorking Knoxville is a part of Bearden Technology Suites, a 4,000 square foot office building. We offer free amenities to members such as coffee and water and conference room time. We also add a unique twist by maintaining (and growing) a physical library of business-focused books that members can check out and read anytime. Right now we’re up to about 100 books.

What is your favorite thing about operating a coworking space? 

Honestly, it’s getting to connect with other entrepreneurs in our area. I also love that as I get to know more about our local business ecosystem, I can better connect those entrepreneurs with people and organizations that can help them grow!

What’s your favorite story about one of your members?

One of our members accidentally got locked out of the building during an especially cold day (he left his phone on his desk that had his Proximity app on it). Since we have an outside tablet with the Proximity Wave page on it, I got a text from the system that said, “Hello, Frank. Can you open the door for me? Locked out and waiting up front for you.”

What has been the most surprising or unexpected thing about operating a coworking space?

It’s actually created some business for the digital marketing service I run out of the coworking space. As members get to know me and what I do, they’ve been referring me to their own client base. I truly was not expecting that to happen!

What advice would you offer to someone wanting to open a coworking space?

It’s not about the desk. If you focus on your space as a tenant/landlord relationship, you’re not going far. Think of all the ways you can support your members outside of just being a cool place to work from. We do that by helping members connect to business networks/people plus offering educational programming.

Learn more about Coworking Knoxville on Facebook.

Coworking Knoxville is open to entrepreneurs and small businesses seeking more collaboration in a professional community