By Patricia Morrison Coate
Olympic Peninsula News Group
SEQUIM — It’s often been said that necessity is the mother of invention.
In August, Edward Unthank, a marketing consultant, and Ankur Shah, a software engineer, met through mutual Sequim acquaintances and shared their frustrations of working out of their homes.
The more they talked, the more they realized that other young professionals in their situation might value having a state-of-the-art space to work away from the hubbub of home life — and pay for the privilege.
“We started talking about having a space to work together and we felt there was a need in the community for a co-working space,” Unthank, 26, said.
They called their company Clallam Coworking, nicknaming it “The Cow” in reference to Sequim’s dairying history.
“Co-working is where people who work from home or don’t need a typical office can rent a desk, use the internet, have a conference room or work with other people who also work from home.”
The benefit, Unthank said, “is if you’re starting a services company, the rent is for a fraction of the cost of having an office, plus we have the fastest internet in Sequim.”
“Ten times faster than anywhere else [here],” said Shah, 37.
“For me, I enjoy working with people because it’s a good way to do networking locally and I can be more productive in the office,” Unthank said. “It also will appeal to people if they need a professional place to meet clients — they just pay for a single day to use our networking equipment.”
Clallam Coworking’s official first day of business was Wednesday, and Unthank and Shah plan to have an open house from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today.
“We both saw a real need for the public — independent professionals — as our economy transitions. Our generations don’t have the notion of a stable workforce. So many people are becoming independent contractors, professional consultants that can use the space to build the community,” Shah explained.
“I see this as serving the public good,” Shah said. “One of the primary barriers to bringing high-paying technology jobs to the Olympic Peninsula is access to reliable high-speed internet. Another one of those barriers is a workforce with strong science and math skills, and we’ll be helping establish that as well.”
Shah also sees a revitalization of downtown Sequim with more professionals shopping, lunching and attending events in the core of the city.
Unthank and Shah said their business model is BYOC — “Bring your own computer.” The office with lots of natural light on the second floor of the Olympic Commons Building has 11 workstations with adjustable-height desks, each with power outlets, one or more monitors and ergonomic chairs.
“The internet is really what we’re providing, and conference rooms,” Unthank said. Shah added that the office will have videoconferencing capabilities for an enhanced professional element.
“The Cow” also has a classroom with a green chalkboard — yes, real chalk — a meeting/interview room, a conference room where several work stations can be lined up and a separate lunch/conversation area.
How it works
Users either sign up for a monthly membership of $200 to be able to use the facility for 20 business days a month, or rent a work station, classroom or conference room by the day for $20.
Since December, Unthank and Shah have signed up five full-time members.
“Our first goal is 20 and then we can figure out how to expand,” Unthank said. “It’s hard not to overemphasize how important having high-speed internet is for video uploading and crunching data.”
“We’ll work here so we’ll be here most of the time,” Shah said. “People can contact us by email or on our website to let us know when they’re going to drop in, so we always can be here. Eventually, members would have their own key cards.”
For more information, call 206-745-9660 or visit http://clallamcoworking.com.
Patricia Morrison Coate is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at [email protected] gazette.com.