Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) in Denver, April 15-18, 2019

GCUC, short for the Global Coworking Unconference Conference is the largest coworking conference series in the world, and the seventh GCUC USA was held in the mile-high city of Denver on April 15-18. The acronym “GCUC” is pronounced “Juicy,” and with good reason.  The coworking industry is cutting edge and continuously changing, so to keep things juicy, GCUC conferences bring forward the latest trends and discussions in the coworking industry. GCUC Denver was a 4-day conference bringing together over 400 owners, operators, investors, and vendors to cover the most pressing and important topics in coworking. Here is a recap of the four action-packed days at GCUC Denver:

Day one at GCUC Camp was focused on offering new entrants to coworking the opportunity to tune in as industry experts spoke about their experience and insight around real estate, design, community, technology and more. Those attending quickly learned that when it comes to coworking, it is more than a work space – it is about building community. Tony Bacigalupo, founder of New York Cities, New York City’s first dedicated coworking space from 2008 to 2015. He emphasized during his presentation on ‘Building Community’ that coworking is everything besides a bunch of people working in a space in isolation. Instead coworking spaces are a catalyst for driving innovation and building relationships.

Day two consisted of several speaker sessions and panel discussions ranging on topics like – Importance of Wellness and Nature in coworking spaces, latest trends in coworking, and presentation of the world coworking survey results. A common consensus amongst all the speakers was that coworking spaces that are member-focused tend to do better. An effective way to find your ideal member is to simply go out and talk to your community and ask, “What does coworking mean to them? What are they looking for in a coworking space?” Cartsen Foertsch from Desmag shared this message during his presentation of the Global Coworking survey. When coworking members were asked what resource in a coworking space is most valuable to them, the answer was basic business guidance like HR advice.

Day three was unconference day. Throughout the day we broke up into focused groups to discuss attendee generated topics. This was my first time participating in an unconference, and I thought it was a very organic and inclusive way of facilitating “attendee focused” sessions. We discussed topics: coworking in rural and suburban communities and Role of Economic Development in coworking. The most valuable part of the unconference was connecting with people who are directly working (on various levels) on the same things we are working on. During one of the sessions, we touched on the importance of developing strategic partnerships with our city officials and to have them on board in order to share the same vision that a coworking space has for its community. City officials play a major role in advancing a new concept in a community. This is more so true when we are talking about smaller sized rural communities.

Finally, day four was ‘Coworking Tours’. We visited four spaces throughout the day – all very different from one another. The Commons on Champa, ‘Denver’s Entrepreneurship Hub,’ particularly stood out. The Commons on Champa is an initiative of the Downtown Denver Partnership, which was founded to create a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in building an economically powerful center city. The space has a coworking space open to the public on the first floor, and more exclusive meeting/conference spaces on the second floor. The Denver Economic Development office is also housed on the second floor. In addition to work spaces, The Commons also offers various entrepreneurial programs like Co.Starters, Business Mentorship Hours, and Resource Match programs, all geared towards helping startups.

That’s a wrap for GCUC Denver 2019!

Here are the top highlights from the event:

  1. Coworking is more than a working space – it is about building a culture of innovation in your community.
  2. Coworking in rural/smaller communities looks different; find your niche.
  3. Awareness is key. When introducing a new concept such as coworking to a community, it is essential to educate the community beforehand.

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