A former factory buliding and Charlotte landmark has undergone major renovation to serve as home for Tabbris, a new coworking space and business incubator in North Carolina. Tabbris celebrated their grand opening last month, and we spoke with founder Jeff Brokaw to learn more about his coworking space and what impact he hopes to have on the local startup community.
Why did you decide to open a coworking space?
My business partner, John, visited Tech Village in Atlanta, and we got to wondering why Charlotte wasn’t on par with the innovative coworking going on there and in other cities. We wanted to fill that gap for that type of coworking—where you create a network and community within the space to better serve members.
Tell us about your space. What amenities do you have and what makes it special?
The space itself is 23,500 square feet. This includes 44 offices, three conference rooms, 75 dedicated seats and around 100 “hot” seats, meaning they’re not assigned to anyone. We have 9,000 square feet of convertible space for events, which remains a cafe/lounge area during the day. We have a full bar stocked with kegs, a snack and non-alcoholic drink bar complete with some locally-roasted coffee. We’ve got crazy fast fiber internet, a recording studio, all types of lounging space, showers, meditation room, lockers, all different kinds of small things to make work more enjoyable.
One of the best things about the space, I think, is its location. Geographically, we’re located in one of the most central parts of the city, but it’s more accessible than being right in the middle of Uptown Charlotte. We’re right off a lightrail line. We’ve got so much around us to do. The coolest quirk of the place, though, is that the building was home to the Lance snack company, an iconic Charlotte-based company. From 1926 to the early 60s, snack crackers were made there, and we did our best to preserve the history and original brickwork of the interior.
What is your favorite thing about operating a coworking space?
I think my favorite thing is meeting new people and hearing their ideas. There are so many cool companies out there that just need an environment to grow their ideas and execute them, and I love hearing from people and getting excited about their journey.
What has been the most surprising or unexpected thing about operating a coworking space?
How rewarding it is. We’ve created this huge local community, and it’s cool to see everything come into fruition. Also, the fact that we’re running something in a community and city we know incredibly well. I’ve lived in Charlotte for a long time and it’s cool to see this project take shape and form within a place I know and love.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to open a coworking space?
Go big or go home. Nothing is too crazy, because that’s what makes you stand out from all the other spaces out there. Not to be corny, but when you believe in your ideas there’s no use in hesitating on them.