New zWORKS Executive Director Talks Success of Zionsville’s Two Co-Working Spaces
Photographer / Eli Beaverson
Several years ago, a few Zionsville community leaders recognized a need for a co-working space in town. In April 2015 these leaders founded zWORKS, a nonprofit organization located in the heart of Zionsville that provides shared workspace for entrepreneurs, startups, freelancers, established businesses and remote workers.
“It’s been successful in that a home-work life balance has become very important to people,” says zWORKS Executive Director Vickie Hall. “Plus, more companies are providing a remote option these days.”
The space quickly became popular, offering a low-barrier entry for new or startup businesses. In fact, after seeing the growth in both Zionsville and zWORKS, volunteers recognized that they needed to hire an executive director who could focus on continued growth and fundraising. In January 2017 Kate Swanson took the position, and took the organization to the next level in the areas of streamlining, member software services, and printing systems. She was at the helm until recently when Hall, who has worked at zWORKS as space manager, assumed the position.
“Kate is an incredible lifter-upper of women,” Hall says. “She took me to meetings and introduced me around. She made the transition smooth by making sure that I was not a stranger to anyone.”
Hall is not surprised that the workspace has become so popular. After all, it offers members reliable, high-speed internet, private meeting rooms, 24-hour building access, and large, quiet work zones. Plus, as a nonprofit zWORKS has sponsors and partners such as payroll service representatives, lawyers and accounting services. While no one is required to use these partners, their services can come in handy.
Jeff Wraley, founder and CEO of BestQuote, is a member at zWORKS. He says the space offers a sense of community, and the perfect amenities for early-stage companies looking to launch their ventures.
“I have definitely benefited from getting to know other members and others who have graduated into their own office spaces,” Wraley says. “Those connections have been critical to getting my business off the ground. Believe it or not, Zionsville has developed a small but meaningful tech startup scene. That wouldn’t be the case without zWORKS.”
zWORKS leaders have been proactive in hosting events including a monthly Member Happy Hour, which takes place on the third Thursday of every month and is open to the public. In addition, zWORKS hosts six Lunch & Learn events per year, during which local business leaders address topics of interest to startup businesses. For example, with tax season approaching, Hall asked Allman Johnson, a zWORKS accounting partner, to lead a Lunch & Learn session on February 5.
“We want to be a resource to our members,” Hall says.
Last year zWORKS held an inaugural pitch night in which startup businesses gave three-minute presentations about their businesses to five judges, all of whom are part of the investment community. The grand prize was one year of free office use at zWORKS. Hall and her colleagues plan to organize another pitch night this fall.
Over the past five years, zWORKS has grown steadily. When it opened only annual memberships were offered, because leaders wanted to foster a community feel and didn’t want to encourage transient membership. In 2017 the organization began offering monthly memberships.
“(Members) are usually businesses that are looking to grow and gain traction,” Hall says. “For instance, it might be two buddies starting a business that they hope to grow within a year, but right now they need to hunker down in an office rather than an open co-working space.”
Currently, zWORKS membership hovers between 215 and 225, with an average of 30 members utilizing the space daily.
Hall’s goals for 2020 include taking care of current members and continuing to increase partnerships to create more startup resources. In addition, she wants to maintain strong relationships with Zionsville leaders, working closely with the new administration while recruiting new businesses.
“We want to make sure they understand the value zWORKS brings to the table,” Hall says.
Lance Schwab, managing director at Tegra, appreciates the sense of community at zWORKS.
“zWORKS was an easy choice,” he says. “It’s a five-minute drive and has all the basics I need including quiet work space, reservable conference rooms, and an unexpected perk – people that fill the banter gap you miss out on working from home.”
zWORKS offers two locations in Zionsville, at 85 East Cedar Street and 75 East Pine Street. For more information, call 317-727-7324 or visit zworks.org.