Daniels Ikajevs and Simee Adhikari, a married couple and Co-Founders of The Ring, are building a coworking space unlike anything you've ever seen. In fact, when it's all said and done, The Ring will be one of the first coworking spaces in the entire world to obtain the WELL Certification for health and well-being in buildings. The idea of coworking is not a novel one, but their wellness-centered approach to designing a space that includes circadian rhythm lights, eco friendly building materials, and green living walls that supply fresh oxygen is certainly unique.
Ikajevs, who's been in commercial real estate since 2003, walked us through the journey from idea to action. "A couple years ago, I became really interested in coworking and the idea of building an ecosystem that gives entrepreneurs the ability to feed off one another in the workspace," he said. "I signed up for the Business Incubation Management (BIM) Certificate Program, offered by the International Business Innovation Association, to become certified to run incubators and coworking spaces. I flew to Seattle to take the courses and also took some courses online. It was about a four month program. When I finished, I did extensive research and eventually decided to focus on coworking spaces. We started as a three person team that included my wife and our project manager Janelle Branch. We traveled across the US and Europe to look at the latest and greatest trends in coworking spaces. We picked up some really cool ideas, but we wanted something unique."
"We decided to start with our objective," Ikajevs continued. "We wanted to create the world's healthiest workspace. How do you integrate available smart office and wellness technologies into a single work environment? We conducted an extensive research of the newest solutions in the health and wellness industry and merged it with the latest innovations in office technologies. This can be seen in our material selection, lighting, furniture and space design." They decided on an 18,000 square foot space located inside the One Clearwater Tower, a building owned by Ikajevs. Seeing the potential of The Ring and the power it has to transform the local economic and business environment, the Clearwater City Council awarded Ikajevs with a $600,000 grant towards the build-out of the space. Ikajevs is personally financing the remaining $1.2 million in construction and build-out costs.
Ikajevs and his team looked at everything including, space flow, effect of natural light, building materials, sound insulation, air quality, furniture, and were consistently conscious of how their design decisions would impact the health and wellness of their members. They'll even have fully customizable rooms. Ikajevs explained, "Our 'Senses' meeting room will allow members to fully customize the space. They can set the mood and tone of the meeting by changing light colors, sounds and even smells of the room. Certain colors have an impact on how we react to things. For example, you can add blues and reds to make everyone more alert. Throughout the space, we'll have circadian rhythm lights that mimic the natural pattern of the sun. Members will be able to enjoy 20 minute power naps in sleeping pods, an exclusive amenity that can be found in the high-tech Google and Apple headquarters. We'll feature standup desks and top-end ergonomic furniture designed to improve health and posture. We'll even have green walls covered with oxygen producing plants."
Once opened in mid-summer 2018, The Ring will include 5 conference rooms, 45 private offices, break rooms and offers clients four levels of membership to choose from depending on their needs and the size of their company. The third level is one that is truly unique to The Ring. It's called the 'Fight Club' level and is limited to only sixteen assigned desk spaces along with the access to The Ring's Main Event. This will give members an opportunity to pitch their ideas, similar to Shark Tank, to a group of local venture capitalists at least once a year. The Main Event will take place in a room designed to look like a boxing ring.
The Ring will offer all the modern amenities you'd expect in a coworking space including free printing, coffee, tea, daily organic fruits, seminars and yoga classes, but Ikajevs believes that one of the main advantages of coworking spaces is flexibility. "There's been a shift of mindset in terms of what kind and how much space companies need," he said. "It's very difficult to give an accurate prediction of where you're going to be in the next five to ten years as a business. It's also equally difficult to predict how much space you'll need. We are offering month to month or up to one year long memberships. Companies can add more space or downsize very easily. There's a lot of flexibility."
Ikajevs has some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. "You have to really believe in your ideas," he said. "Know yourself and your ability to execute. Success is never a straight line. There are many ups and downs. It's also important to look at the longevity of your business plan. Will your business idea remain relevant in the next 20 years? If not, you are just thinking too small." According to Ikajevs, coworking and collaborative workspaces is one of those trends that will continue to gain in popularity. Once The Ring opens its doors and builds demand on a local level, they hope to eventually bring their version of coworking to other cities across the United States and beyond.