It was just a day after Christmas when I wandered into Cross Campus in Santa Monica to check out the Southern California co-working scene. Unlike the other co-working spaces in Los Angeles County I attempted to visit, this one was open. Understandably, there weren’t too many people working at four p.m. on a Friday afternoon but there were still people there.
Cross Campus represents a mature co-working space that has a balance of industries, startups and companies like attorneys, accountants and venture capitalists to provide the right recipe for an entrepreneurial cocktail. They host events and can list presenters like President Barack Obama and Elon Musk on past programs.
Founded in 2012, Cross Campus has grown to about 300 members who share the space and its amenities on a monthly basis. According to Dylan Steinman in Membership Development, 60% of those businesses are counted as startups. When people think about technology startups, they usually think about Northern California’s Bay Area known as “Silicon Valley.” LA County has its own catchy tech moniker; “Silicon Beach.” In the first three quarters of 2014, 105 companies in LA County received venture capital funding. That placed it number five in the country according to the National Venture Capital Association.
Steinman said Cross Campus focuses on bringing aboard companies that complement each other so startups can thrive. Industries represented in the Santa Monica location include film, marketing, technology, software and finance. The popular crowdfunding platform indiegogo has office space there. A segment of companies that provide businesses services also office there. Steinman pointed space that housed attorneys and financial professionals. The co-founders of Cross Campus have extensive backgrounds in finance and technology. While not technically a business incubator, the principals get to meet and see a lot of early stage startup businesses. Another location of Cross Campus is opening in Pasadena and Steinman said office memberships apply to both locations.
By its nature, co-working is a temporary animal. Members will either succeed and move on to a permanent office or fail and return to the workforce. Either outcome creates an empty desk that needs to be filled in the co-working space. A mature co-working facility will provide a healthy, collaborative environment for its members while hosting compelling community events to recruit the new members that will eventually have to replace existing ones. Cross Campus provides a model of success for the co-working industry.