Koi leverages its coworking space for special events

By Bob Rozycki

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You have a project that needs to be completed ASAP.

But there are too many distractions at work.

The phone. Email. Micromanaging boss. Staffers at your door.

The same voices with the same ideas.

Argh.

You tried working at home, but you ended up playing with the dog.

You need a shared workspace that doesn’t look like your own office.

And maybe you’d like some feedback from a complete stranger or two.

A couple of creative types and longtime buddies by the names of Ryan Doran and Jon Manierre were working out of a home office in Valhalla.

Their business, a one-stop creative shop known as Turkois that provides video, audio, print, promotional, copywriting, event marketing, social marketing, graphic design, app development, as well as brand and identity design, was growing. Turkois began as a cooperative freelance operation between Doran and Manierre and was officially formed as a limited liability company in 2012. Manierre and Doran both share the helm as managing creative partners.

The two were creating videos for OXO’s Good Grips line of cookware and GreenPan for Sur la Table, building websites for Colliers International that focused on hedge fund and private equity fund real estate marketplaces and working for several other clients including Staples and Xerox.

Doran and Manierre were on a quest for professional workspace.

They were determined to find that space in White Plains with its easy accessibility to trains, buses and highways.

“We didn’t want to be on Central Avenue above a dentist’s office. And we didn’t want to work in New York City,” Doran said.

The search for an office began in earnest about two years ago. Walking tours with real estate brokers didn’t lead to what they wanted.

“Between being shown spaces around town we were just eyeballing what was available on the (Mamaroneck) avenue and we introduced ourselves to Paul (Dillane) and his business partner Brian Mahon,” Doran said. Dillane and Mahon are owners of street-level restaurants Hudson Grille and Lily’s on Mamaroneck Avenue that had storage space on the second floor.

The two were willing to hear Doran and Manierre’s concept and liked what they had to say.

“We found ourselves growing quickly, and instead of focusing on and moving into a traditional office space, we decided that it was more beneficial to create something that served companies like ours as well as our own,” Doran said.

So the second floor of 169 Mamaroneck Ave. would lead to the creation of coworking space Koi, a three-letter derivative of Turkois. The office opened in August and the two partners bill it as “A hybrid creative coworking space.”

While Koi has competition in the shared-office sector in Westchester and Fairfield counties – CoWork Westchester in New Rochelle, Serendipity Labs in Rye and Stamford, Ground Floor Coworking LLC in New Rochelle and the daddy of them all, Stark Office Suites – because of its open floor plan, Koi can leverage the space for use for after-hours events.

One recent event was hosted by Heineken for 40 of its employees for a training session.

“By keeping the space flexible, we’re able to be fairly nimble and shape it to the needs of an event while still maintaining the core needs of the coworking space during our general 9-to-5,” Doran said.

“We’ve had Westchester Tech Meetup here, we’ll be holding AIGA Brand Central events as well as some WCA (Westchester County Association) events and are hearing from different networking and business groups with interest fairly consistently,” Doran said.

“We’re open to being creative and talking about how the space can work for different needs. I would say yes, our location and approach to availing the space for different uses keeps us in the eye of many different demographics, while maintaining a distinct character unto ourselves.”

Koi offers different tiers of usage, with Doran likening it to a gym membership. A monthly membership gets an individual 5-day per week access, high-speed WiFi, intern and consultant network, small-business mentoring, priority space and priority event access, conference room, printer, use of a kitchenette, and 10 percent off meals at partner restaurants.

While the space is an open floor plan, “we have general ‘house rules’ that encourage people to allow others to get their work done. Essentially it comes down to being a rational person and respecting each other and each other’s workspace.”

More than an airy feeling and an anti-cubicle vibe, Doran said the openness of the space also allows members to talk to one another, learn from one another and have a positive impact on each other.

“Whether that’s directly in partnering or hiring for a project or just incorporating a new approach in your own business. Having outside perspectives can help you find ways to improve yourself and your work – that can be on a micro scale, like a tip on how to manage emails, or macro scale and your new big idea.”

 

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About the author

Bob Rozycki
Senior Editor - Westchester County Business Journal, Fairfield County Business Journal, HV Biz, WAG

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