Bjorn Rosinus, Owner and Founder of Endeavor Innovative Workspaces, grew up in Fort Myers and knows the local commercial real estate landscape extremely well. After earning a Political Science degree at Southern Methodist University in 2005, Rosinus had every intention of going to law school. When he returned to Fort Myers that summer, his dad, who worked in real estate and land holdings, convinced him to stick around and to focus on the exploding commercial real estate market.
"Over the next nine years I learned all I could about commercial real estate and eventually built a successful boutique commercial real estate brokerage," Rosinus said. "Around 2014, I started thinking about the idea of a coworking space in Southwest Florida. I followed WeWork (Coworking and Collaborative Workspaces) since their inception and was inspired by what they were doing. They were mostly operating coworking spaces in big cities, but I thought to myself, 'There's no reason the model can't be scaled down to a demographic like Southwest Florida.' As a commercial real estate broker, I would always get calls from people asking for small spaces that weren't willing to sign a long lease. I also knew what the occupancy levels were like around town. I put all this together and wrapped my head around what this space would look like in Southwest Florida."
The property that Rosinus eventually settled on for his coworking space is actually one of his first commercial real estate development projects. It wasn't, however, his first choice. "About two and a half years ago I was ready to sign a lease for a different location," he said. "It was a smaller more manageable spot, also in Fort Myers, but with the option to grow and acquire more space if needed. It was more retail than the industrial building we're in now. I got a phone call from the tenant in the building we're in now asking to meet with me right away. The local news had been reporting on this particular tenant and how the company was going through a massive downsizing. I had a feeling what was coming. Sure enough, they had to break the lease because of the downsizing. Having to find a new tenant to lease out a 15,000 square foot space left me in a tough position. After thoughts and prayers and talking with wife, we decided to take the plunge and took over the space."
As they were getting the building ready to open, they didn't do any extensive advertising or media blitzes. Instead, they focused on price and offering private offices at month to month rates that blew away the competition. Their focus is on getting people through the door. Once people see what Rosinus and his team have accomplished, they're more likely to become members. Rosinus admits to utilizing some unconventional means of advertising like Craigslist and more conventional means like social media and Google, but now most of their new business comes from word of mouth.
For Rosinus, it's always been about more than just providing office space. He explained, "I want to create a community of like-minded business owners that provides more value-added resources, events and opportunities for them to grow their businesses. I'm really trying to change the way that the office environment is done in smaller demographics outside of major metropolitan areas. I'm also constantly trying to think of new ideas and fun things to do. I want to be a leader in the coworking space in Southwest Florida and eventually take this model to other cities." They're certainly on their way to doing that. Endeavor Innovative Workspaces has grown every month they've been in business expect for Sept 2017 when Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the Southwest Coast of Florida. Eight months after they opened their doors, they hit breakeven, a feat very few new businesses can claim, especially coworking spaces.
To accomplish their objectives of creating a community and providing value-added resources and opportunities, Endeavor hosts four to five events on a monthly basis. They have a think tank after-hours event with a smaller group of members. This event has no boundaries and encourages 'anything goes' type conversations. Founders and owners are free to rant, rave, share failures, share successes, give and get feedback from their space mates. They host a monthly catered lunch and learn where different guest speakers share their insight and expertise. Once a month, they do 'Waffle Wednesdays' and make fresh waffles and provide a toppings bar. They host a monthly members-only happy hour geared more towards networking. They also host a group of crypto-currency and technical entrepreneurs.
Rosinus has some great advice for entrepreneurs. "I believe in taking the leap, but I would caution people to be sure they know what they're getting into and to do their homework. It's one thing to start a business but it's another to identify a solution to a problem and then to start a business to solve that problem. It's also important to stick with it and to know there are going to be ups and downs. You'll learn a lot every time you're down. Just don't make the same mistake twice." Rosinus recommends a book, that was given to him by the head of the entrepreneurship program at Florida Gulf Coast University, called All In Startup by Diana Kander. He also recommends Your Best Year Ever by Michael S. Hyatt. For those interested in learning more about coworking, he recommends a podcast called Everything Coworking.
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