By: Mark Gordon | Managing Editor
March 25, 2016
Keith Pandeloglou hopes to open his business venture, CoworkLWR, by October. Photo by Lori Sax
Keith Pandeloglou is so confident in the future of the co-working space model, he quit his six-figure sales job to start his own business in the industry.
Pandeloglou is doing that with CoworkLWR, in Lakewood Ranch in east Manatee County. Pandeloglou spent the past six years with the Lakewood Ranch office of national human resources consulting firm TriNet. First he worked in IT, and then he oversaw a sales team that grew from three to 75 people under his leadership. He left in January to start CoworkLWR and a consulting firm for entrepreneurs and startups, UTC Venture Group.
Pandeloglou realizes this is far from a sure thing, given how new the model is to the area. Lakewood Ranch, while a hub for Sarasota-Manatee companies, also doesn’t have the mass of businesses and people where co-working spaces traditionally thrive.
“I made more money last year than any other year in my career,” says Pandeloglou, 34. “And with this I will probably lose money for the first two years.”
CoworkLWR is a work in progress, but the general model, monthly memberships, follows companies such as New York City-based WeWork or Naples-based VentureX.
The CoworkLWR office will be Wi-Fi connected, and Pandeloglou plans to have a conference room and a recording studio for videos and other multimedia projects. Members can also get a business address and packaging services.
There are three membership options: $10 a month, a community membership, gets you workspace access for one day; the next level, espresso, gets one day a week plus discounts on the conference room and sound studio for $50 a month; and the highest level, partnership, gets 24-hour unlimited access to the workspace and all other services for $250 a month.
Pandeloglou is confident the rates for his model will work, particularly if he gets enough partnership-level clients. Says Pandeloglou: “I think the market is ripe for something like this.”
Pandeloglou hopes to have office space leased, around 2,000 square feet, for CoworkLWR by mid-spring and open by October, after renovations. He seeks a place on Town Center Parkway, a strip of Lakewood Ranch that consists mostly of office buildings. He’s already invested $35,000 into the venture, and plans to spend around $100,000 in total.
CoWorkLWR targets mostly white-collar professionals who work from home or have multiple out-of-the-office appointments for partnership-level memberships. That could be a patent attorney with his own practice or a salesperson. Geographically, Pandeloglou aims for the area in east Manatee County between State Road 70 and University Parkway. He hopes to maybe even snare some clients who live in the area and are tired of commuting from east Manatee to downtown Sarasota.
Pandeloglou started several businesses while growing up in New Jersey, from building a computer for a teacher to buying gum at Wal-Mart and reselling the packs to other kids for a profit. While he says his time at TriNet was lucrative and educational, he looks forward to doing something more entrepreneurial again.
He’s also excited about his plans for some guerilla-style marketing to find clients for CoworkLWR. That includes sending a salesperson into area Starbucks locations to chat up independently working people about CoworkLWR. He also bought a Toyota Prius he intends to drive around town wrapped with CoWorkLWR’s logo. “This is a hyper-local business,” he says. “I want it to be a place the community owns.”
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