A Seattle entrepreneur hopes to disrupt the increasingly crowded co-working field with a swanky concept replicating an executive airport lounge with ergonomically correct furniture, cutting-edge lighting and high-touch service.
Bill Sechter opened Atlas Workbase this month in Seattle in the Lumen condominium building, 500 Mercer St., across the street from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His goal is to provide space for companies ranging from startups to larger, mature companies in facilities across the country.
“Our space will accommodate the CEO of any Fortune 500 company,” said Sechter, a Seattle University graduate whose background is in sales and management. He teamed up with furniture company Steelcase, Philips Lighting, design companies Gensler and Open Square and FedEx Office to create Atlas. FedEx Office offers printing and shipping services at Atlas.
The number of co-working spaces increased 10 percent nationally from 2014 to 2015, according to a study by Instant Group, which tracks the industry. Half of the growth is occurring in just four states, including Washington.
Atlas hopes to stand out by offering a higher-end service. A concierge meets customers when they enter Atlas, where they can create the environments they want by setting the lighting levels and deciding whether to work at sit-and-stand desks or in modular work stations with lumbar support and partial walls, which help cut down on distractions.
Atlas customers can choose quiet workspaces or communal areas, which are sometimes called the “third place.” (Think of a coffee shop or bar.) “We are basically marrying the third place and co-working and elevating them,” Sechter said.
He would not say how much he spent opening Atlas, which is a privately held company with unnamed financial backers, it appears it was no small sum based on the high-end furniture and fixtures in the 20,000-square-foot space.
Sechter said this does not translate into high prices. Users can buy a pass for up to three hours for $15, or a monthly membership for 40 hours of use for $199. Private work station memberships for a full month start at just under $900.