How Co-working Has Created its Own Space in the Business World

What exactly is a Hygge? In this episode, we connect with Garrett Tichy, founder of the trendy new co-working space that is popping up all over the city. Find out how to pronounce the name, and have all of your other co-working questions answered here in this podcast.

Joe: Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Whatever time you’re tuning in, thanks for joining us today, the B2U podcast presented by cbrbiz.com. Our goal is to bring business resources directly to you. I’m your host, Joe, and today I have the pleasure of having Garrett Tichy, owner of Hygge Coworking in the studio today and we’re going to talk about how the name Hygge came to life and everything that’s going on and growing in the coworking scene. So thanks for joining us, Garrett.

Garrett: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Joe: So, before I get to all the other coworking questions, where in the world did the name Hygge come from?

Garrett: Sure. So finding the name is actually one of the least exciting things that we have going for us. Back when we were trying to figure out what to call, our brand, to call our space, we were simply Google searching words that didn’t translate to English directly. So Hygge is, spelled one way, it means one thing, it’s only Danish, and basically means a kind of a mental state of well-being and comfort within space and, and for what we wanted to create, it just fit the mold. It felt really good, so yeah. Not super exciting but now, thinking two and a half years back, three years back, to see Hygge become an actual trendy thing that we kind of came before and have rode that trend, into kind of supported our success, it’s really exciting.

Joe: Yeah, it’s definitely one of those like where did Uber come from and things of that nature.

Garrett: Yeah.

Joe: And then you see Hygge and I’m sure people mispronounce it all the time.

Garrett: A hundred percent of the time.

Joe: What’s the worst that you had?

Garrett: We’re pretty, we pretty regularly see Hijri, Hagy, Hyg, kind of across the board. It’s super interesting. It’s actually for something that nobody can pronounce, it’s worked really well in our favor and, is a great way to break the ice. When most people walk in the space and they’re new and you say, “Welcome to Hygge,” they go, “Oh,” like “that’s how you say it,” like “Finally, somebody say it like I wasn’t gonna be the first one to say it.”

Joe: Right.

Garrett: And it breaks the ice real nice. It’s a really welcoming way to get people engaged.

Joe: Most definitely. So, guess we’ll dive into the coworking questions. So how did you know or realize that there was a need for more coworking here in Charlotte?

Garrett: Sure. So, when we, it was probably four and a half years ago, I quit my job to start a marketing agency, called Ready at 7 and we lasted about two weeks working out of my house and…my partner and I at the time quickly realized this was not gonna work. Neither of us were productive and it was not, very quickly not healthy for us to just be around each other just like that, just two people sitting at a kitchen table trying to get work done. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t productive. So, we ended up in a coworking space called @809, which is, or was located at West Hill Street which is now Hygge.

We were there for about a year as members of the space and over the course of that year started to kind of really appreciate the personal and professional benefits that came along with it. I made friends and I was relatively new to Charlotte. You know, I’ve been in Charlotte for years but did a bad job of being social, and from a business standpoint, it was actually… I would say it supported the growth of my marketing company exponentially. We landed clients because of 809, we built incredible business resources because of that space. So, at some point decided, “What happens if we just did this ourselves and did it better?” and the people that ran 809 were passionate and…but incredibly busy and couldn’t give it 100%. This was kind of a side thing, the coworking for them. So, we decided, “Well, we’ll just give it a shot.” We opened Hygge literally next door, right on the other side of the wall and gave it a run and the bar was low enough that, that we could give it a try and if we were successful, we could go from there.

We were successful three months in. We ended up going back to, to 809 and asking to purchase them, and they agreed and we knocked down the wall and became one giant singular community. And from there it was, it was gangbusters. People were quick to get behind what we were doing.

Joe: That’s definitely cool. My personal story with coworking is I had my mom call me, I wanna say maybe like six, seven years ago and she’s like, “There’s this totally cool idea. I wanna open up a building and have people come pay to work there,” and I told her it would never work and now I’m interviewing you.

Garrett: If somebody said to me…if I could go back and tell my now, then-self like, “Hey, you’re gonna have three locations, you’re gonna be working on bigger things beyond three locations and coworking is going to be your only job you have,” I would’ve laughed, laughed myself right out of existence like that is…it’s crazy to think that. Well, at least it seems crazy but then you think about Charlotte as a city that’s… it’s growing, it’s one of the fastest growing cities. People are moving here just in droves. They are coming to Charlotte and they’re coming with work there. The sheer amount of remote people, people telecommuting is huge. The…you know, we’re in a, time just in the world where everyone’s starting their own thing. There’s this really cool trendy thing about owning your own business and, and space is typically a pretty expensive high barrier for a lot of people so for us lowering it has led to our success.

Joe: Most definitely. So there’s a lot of different coworking spaces here in Charlotte now. Like you said you guys were on the front end of the wave but there’s big guys, there’s other small guys. How would you say you kind of differ in coworking spaces from some of the competitors in town?

Garrett: Sure. So were, you know, obviously, there’s the WeWork and The Industrious which are the kind of the big, big international…you know, we were valued at 18 billion dollars. I can tell you this, I don’t have anything close to that in money. Like we are, we’re a different thing so, so I, they constantly come up, the big players, and people wanna talk about them because they get so much press for what they’ve built. We are not that and I quickly try to distinguish ourselves from them, like we’re just not playing in the same sandbox. They are a different thing in my opinion. As far as like Industry Coworking, which is over at the Music Factory, Tyler Ford runs that one. He’s a good buddy and then Kevin Giriunas runs Advent Coworking. We’re all kinda similar. What differentiates us is, you know, for Hygge, we’re a small team and we, we’re very hands on.

I don’t really believe in community management and hiring people to handle kind of menial tasks like I do all the things. I think there’s something really fun about touring somebody and have them go like, “Oh, you’re, you’re the community manager,” and I’m like all that, the CEO, the plumber, the electrician, the network guy. And, that, breaks down another barrier with people like we use the space just like somebody would. And I always want to be that and I know as I scale that’s going to be, increasingly more difficult but, we are…there’s literally, two people that make decisions in the Hygge ecosystem and they are in the spaces all the time, whereas I think some of the bigger players you’re, you’re not Joe to them, you’re just a line item.

Joe: Yeah.

Garrett: You’re somewhere in a spreadsheet and if you canceled your membership, nobody would be sad, whereas if we lose Joe, yeah, we lost 124 bucks a month but that’s inconsequential where we lost Joe who’s doing some cool things and now he’s not doing them in Hygge and that’s kind of our motto. People first.

Joe: Makes sense, makes sense.

Garrett: Outside of that, like I have a background in marketing and branding and, because of those resources, we’ve just been able to, really kind of come out in a strong way and build something that people, people know, people understand. You know, I think Hygge was an unintentional like win for us as a name but the branding easy, you know, being easy period, being our, our motto, the people first and really kind of the way we speak about our space and the people in the space is unique and most spaces don’t have the resources to accomplish that. And we’ve just built a cool team that gets it to kind of execute these things, you know, Meg Seitz who’s top shop and Julia Fay who does our photography, they’re badass and they’re just executing on our brand in a way that’s like I couldn’t be more excited to, to see it happen. I’m basically hands off with that which is so cool. Other spaces just don’t have the resources, or they haven’t figured out their brand and what to push forward. And we are very, very confident in what we’re putting into the world. It’s pretty damn cool.

Joe: Most definitely. It’s definitely when I go to Hygge, it’s always like a fun place to hang out.

Garrett: Yeah.

Joe: I’m always meeting somebody new or things like that.

Garrett: Yeah.

Joe: You mentioned that you guys have expanded into three locations now. Can you kind of tell us a little bit about that story from that moving from the backside of 809 I believe and then going into now two extra locations?

Garrett: Sure. Growth is literally, constricted by walls. Like at some point, the only way to…and I’ll say the goal is to grow a bigger and better community, continue to do that. How do we get more people into our ecosystem? You know, the moment you have 100, 200, 300 people, 400, 1,000, every single person makes that community more valuable and a time…at some point, the only way to add more people is to literally have more space. So, and also, the way to make more money just as a business, take the feels out of it, the only way I can make more money as a business owner is to literally add more space. So that, after we expanded into the 809 space and it didn’t take long for like this, we’re hitting capacity levels that I feel like we need to just grow. So, we expanded out on to Remount Road which is where the podcast studio is. We chose to be out on the west side because we could get space for a good price and it’s also my mission to get as far outside of Uptown as we can get while still remaining accessible, access is so important. You know, and for us, we’re constantly talking about being inclusive and, and welcoming and the last thing about uptown, think about where we are right now, access is kind of a luxury.

Joe: Yeah, parking, everything haha.

Garrett: It is. And for me, I want…I never want those barriers. So being out on the west side was cool and we pushed into a neighborhood that embraced us and that’s where people are and it’s worked well, Remount exploded pretty quick and the studio, the podcast studio was a big attraction. That’s how we met. And then the Camp North End. We actually a month after we opened Remount, we started looking at Camp North End which felt crazy at the time, and it took me a little while to pull the trigger on that but was the same thing like Remount was quickly getting attraction and there was a good opportunity to be a part of something even bigger than we could have ever imagined. Camp North End being a 70-acre development beast and right now coming up on a year there, and we couldn’t have bet better on that property. I mean, it’s just more how do we get more people into the ecosystem.

Joe: Yeah. So, as you got started, in kind of growing Hygge, were there any like specific resources or programs that kind of helped you along the way?

Garrett: Sure. So, when I think back to, when I think back to quitting my job the first time, haha, and, and leaving, Straight North where I worked in marketing and jumped out on my own, like we…at the time I was so disconnected. I knew nobody, I was…Kayla and I quitting our jobs, gonna start this thing and we, we knew no one in Charlotte. We had no friends, we had no resources, we didn’t know things like the, Charlotte Business Resources even existed. We just started Googling things and trying to figure out exactly how to do what we were doing. And unfortunately, at least in that first company, we stumbled and made lots of mistakes. And, and when I think back now, and some of the work that I wanna do moving forward in creating resources and helping entrepreneurs and small businesses and even what you’re doing and hope to align there, is, is make sure that people just don’t fail.

Like, I’ve said this many times before, I’m not a big fan of like empowering people to fail like, “Go out there and fail, so you learn and then you can do better the second time.” My thoughts on that are like what happens if we just don’t fail and we make sure that people are aware of things like, CBR, and by giving them the resources, they go out make smarter, better, faster decisions so that they can grow fast and be successful. Charlotte as a city gets better and attracts more people the moment that people are successful. When I think about people love to crap on the Charlotte startup ecosystem and I’m like, well, we need more success and the faster that we help a startup grow and maybe exit and make some money or raise some money, the more somebody goes like, “Oh, Charlotte is a viable place where I should also start my business, or I should also start my startup.” And I’d like to think that my success in Charlotte with Hygge has led to people feeling that it’s a viable city to grow. So yeah, I think I didn’t have enough resources starting my business or, or really any sort of support and, and as someone that’s willing to just do the work, I think that’s a big part of it.

Like I just was going to figure out no matter what. I do things 100% or I don’t do them all at all and I think that’s not reasonable to expect everyone to act like that. So, when I think about what you guys are working on and everything that we wanna do in the future, I think we just need to make sure that more people know that these resources exist and that there are people out there willing to…go above and beyond to help them grow.

Joe: Makes sense, makes sense. One of the things that you kinda mentioned a lot was community within the coworking space. So what type of businesses are best suited for the coworking environment?

Garrett: Everyone. Yeah, so this is something where I differ from a lot of coworking people. I have desperately tried to not carve out a niche for what belongs in coworking. Community, a community of one type of person, a super, you know, right now there’s like a big trend in female-focused coworking spaces. It’s huge like…and to me…like I’m a feminist, I support all these things but carving out a niche where you’re surrounded by only like-minded people is really dangerous in my opinion. Like a coworking space of nonprofits, for example, there’s one that was trying to develop here and I’m going like, Nonprofits need to be surrounded by businesses like they are businesses. They should act like businesses and their biggest struggle…nonprofits’ biggest struggle right now is to develop a business model.

Joe: Right.

Garrett: And I think it’s very like it’s smart and healthy to have them around businesses and I love when nonprofits…cause my history with nonprofits has left me feeling more social-minded, social…like, with a more “social good” thought behind everything we do, which led to what we have up at Camp North End, with the Nest and the partnership with Google Fiber in the city.

I think we need to be less niche-focused and find a way to attract nonprofit startups, entrepreneurs, remote workers. You know, there’s a table… today was the perfect example. There’s Emily, who’s a tax person, she does taxes for German Tax Law for expatriates, expats. Matt who is… works in real estate, DC and Melissa who work in marketing and Jim who is a statistician, all sitting at the same table and it’s the coolest thing.

Joe: Right, ha.

Garrett: That is coworking to me. That, and they became friends because of Hygge like they were the type of people that started all at their own little table and eventually have come together and they are living in very different, professional worlds, that is so healthy. That is the most-healthy coworking table in all of, all of the Hygge’s at least and that’s how I believe, I believe diversity and all that across you know, everything is good.

Joe: Yeah, it makes sense because like you said, if you silo your own thoughts, you don’t get as far as, as a major group so.

Garrett: Yeah, absolutely.

Joe: So, with the coworking space you mentioned the table. So there’s big open spaces in Hygge for people to collab together. Are there any other type of spaces that you guys offer?

Garrett: Yeah. So, each of the locations have big open workspace but I’m a big fan of nooks. There are just moments when you don’t want to be around people. I am as big a people person as you get but there are moments where I just don’t wanna see anybody. So we do our best to give people different environments, not only like workspaces, wood tables, singular tables where you could kind of dominate and nobody is gonna sit by you, bar tops, couches, comfy chairs, things like that, phone rooms, meeting space. But I love when…let’s say you’re working in the open space and you’re just like, alright, it’s maybe got social and it’s gonna happen, people, start to talk. It’s human nature. There, it’s gonna happen and you just wanna walk away. You don’t need to leave, you can find a, a place like a little nook and I love, I love seeing people just kind of cozied up and jamming on their own when they need it. I think that’s important.

Joe: Haha. So are there different like membership levels for Hygge?

Garrett: Yeah. And, and most coworking spaces…kind of the standard is, a flexible membership which is just work anywhere within the space. We have three locations so we just give everyone access. Our base level, we call Friends with Benefits, it’s $124 a month. Then we have, like most coworking spaces, a dedicated desk level which is your desk all the time, you show up, it’s there, you don’t show up, it’s still there, nobody sits at it. We call that Going Steady. That’s $250 a month. And then, private offices which is a room with a door, it’s yours, logos on it. We call those Ride or Die. Those start at $600 and go up.

Joe: Okay.

Garrett: We have day passes as well, for 20 bucks if you’re…like we had someone that was just in from Chicago for a day and 20 bucks, they can use the space all day. We call those One-Day Stands.

Joe: Okay. And so, with those memberships like you get access to the Wi-Fi, printing…

Garrett: Yep!

Joe: Anything like that or…?

Garrett: Yeah, and I really try to simplify the core amenity set. I’m not a big fan of big checklists and things. Like we do three things, we give you a place to work, you know, it’s chairs, coffee, and Wi-Fi, period. You know, yes, we have a printer and if you really wanna still print things in this, age, yes, it’s there and you can use it all you want. I really, really want to get away from all the… I never liked when I went on a website and it’s just like checkbox, checkbox, like here’s a list of everything and some of it’s just like obvious it’s coworking.

Joe: Right. Should be there, right?

Garrett: I assume people know that the internet is good. Haha…

Joe: The internet is good at Hygge, I will say that.

Garrett: It’s, so funny and we still get that question like someone will be like, “How’s the internet?” and you’re like, “It’s terrible.” Like, “What kinda…que..what did you think I was going to say to that, that question?” And you know, whatever. I’m just….people are fascinating, so…

Joe: Haha, cool so if someone was interested to getting started with coworking space with Hygge, what would they need to do to get started?

Garrett: Just reach out. Website’s the best place to start. Call us. Most of the coworking spaces in Charlotte, will happily host you for a day or two just to, just to try it. And we’re all…especially Industry Advent, Industry and Advent, I’m big fans what they do. They’re working hard, and they’re all…we’re all doing our own thing. The one unifying thing is we’re all workspace. What the community does for you and stuff…like I recommend people shop around and find something that fits really nicely for them. But yeah, all of us are available online and you can get me in 32 different ways through social media or everywhere.

Joe: Facebook, Twitter, all the above.

Garrett: Way too accessible. Yeah.

Joe: Cool, well, thanks, Garrett. Anything else you’d like to add before we close?

Garrett: Let’s, we almost got talking about community and, something that I want… something that… I just had this conversation with someone that toured today too. It’s where when you…when people show up and you’re like, “What’s the community like?” And I find that, that a lot of coworking spaces force community on people and we’re a big fan of putting the pressure on you, like Joe joins and community happens if Joe decides to talk to Emily. We didn’t, all we’re doing, like our one job, is to facilitate space in a really good way and then we, we put an incredible amount of pressure in, in, by not facilitating community outside of just space. Like if someone comes in for community and you sit there and you’re upset that you didn’t meet anybody, well, it’s because you didn’t talk to anybody.

Joe: Makes sense.

Garrett: And that’s something coworking I wish would get away from, the community, it’s “Come by!” And when I think about like the…let’s say day one, I open Hygge and I say like, “Come join our community,” there’s literally no community. There’s nothing. And, community happens the moment our first member signs up, they come in the space and they have a conversation with anyone, me, Kayla who was my partner when we started this, and, and it just grows from there and then there’s another person and they feel comfortable enough to open their mouth and, have a conversation. It’s hard and I wish that…, and I think our success and our growth is stemmed from kinda putting that kinda pressure on people. Not like, and I say pressure, it’s weird because we’re literally doing nothing,

Joe: Right.

Garrett: But leaving the expectation that people be human.

Joe: It’s kinda like the blind dating of coworking like you just put them in the room and…

Garrett: We talked about doing weird speed dating things.

Joe: Speed dating through coworking?

Garrett: Yeah. And then we killed that idea. It fits nicely into our, brand but also seems like a bad plan.

Joe: Hahahaha, cool. We appreciate it. Listeners, if you’re looking for coworking spaces, be sure to check out Hygge – and that’s H-Y-G-G-E – Coworking for a flexible workspace and to support one of our local businesses. So that’s all for today, thank you for tuning into this episode of the “B2U Podcast” presented by CBR Biz. And Garrett, thank you again for taking the time out to speak with us.

Garrett: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Joe: And, if you have any questions about today’s podcast, feel free to tweet us @CBRbiz, and until next time, we mean business.

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