The next great startup ecosystem is the co-working ecosystem.

By Silver Kalmus, co-founder at Silverticket

Build, measure, learn… The lean startup movement has changed the way entrepreneurs implement their day-to-day work. It doesn’t take money to make money anymore! Startup owners, entrepreneurs and executives know with certainty that the fastest way to achieve their goals is not only through external capital and investment – it could be also through knowledge and wisdom.

Co-working spaces are perfect spots where knowledge, wisdom and even capital is brought together to enhance entrepreneurship and accelerate talented people’s work. You can either build your product in the isolation or you can work alongside bright-minded and motivated people who can give you shortcuts and even instant feedback that you can measure and count on immediately.

When I first entered the famed Merchandise Mart in Chicago city centre and stepped into the world largest co-working space 1871, the very first entrepreneur I met was Troy Henikoff, the managing director of Techstars in Chicago. Troy walked me through the 120,000-square-feet facility that provides startups with programmes, access to mentors, educational resources, potential investors and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs that help them on their path to building successful businesses. 1871 is not just a co-working space; it’s the flagship of a new startup era of growth and success.

Founded in 2012, 1871 was created to support the Chicago digital startup community. Since that time, more than 400 early-stage, high growth digital startups have found their home in the facility. Why does 1871 get dozens of applicants every day? It’s about the like-minded community and the cluster that could connect you with almost anyone with no time. Yes, we have Linkedin for connecting people; incubators for mentoring; hackathons for innovation; business schools for business knowledge; universities for research; AngelList for reaching out angels and VCs; TechCrunch for keeping us ahead with the latest trends and so forth. Believe it or not, 1871 has all that.

Some would ask: “why we need physical co-working hubs in our digital society“ – startup teams can find mentors online, you can share your investor deck with your potential angel investors and you can solve programming errors in developer online groups. Since running a startup is not a sprint, but rather an ongoing marathon, it is essential and time-effective when you can shorten the business life cycle as much as possible. Everybody can launch a company these days and learn online but if you want to accelerate the path to success — find the closest co-working hub. Co-working spaces can add the highest value when the whole startup co-working ecosystem could shorten the business life cycle. 1871 is probably the best example in the world that does that for businesses.

Undoubtedly, 1871 is the brightest but definitely not the only brilliant solution. Yes, above the all, we have the golden Bay Area with the ever expanding innovation hubs. But let’s face the truth, and look at the macro trends – the majority of the market cap has been built in Silicon Valley area over the last 15 years; many believe that in the next 15 years growth will be built outside of Silicon Valley. The mid-west is only one example. We have actually already seen the same shift happened with the emergence of tech ecosystems in LA, India, Israel, Estonia.

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