A small coffee shop greets visitors as they walk through the door of CO+HOOTS, 1027 E. Washington St. No. 107 in Phoenix. The smell of freshly ground coffee and the aroma of teas brewing permeates the air.
As you pass into the warehouse-themed office, people are collaborating over their computer screens.
CO+HOOTS is a shared workspace, located in downtown Phoenix, where around 200 entrepreneurs collaborate and utilize the close-knit community they have created in the small space. Providing Internet access, conference rooms, desk space and access to other entrepreneurs in their like-minded fields, CO+HOOTS is a place where businesses go to thrive.
Businesses ranging from Uber – Phoenix to freelance software engineers have utilized CO+HOOTS, taken up memberships with the company and have expanded afterwards.
Jenny Poon, who founded CO+HOOTS in 2010, said a sense of collaboration is important for these businesses to succeed.
“I created this space with the culture, the idea and the mentality that this is a sharing environment.” Ms. Poon said.
Ms. Poon said that she wants people to realize that Phoenix has these talented people and places available at their fingertips.
“Never before has there been an organized, collective group where people could point to and say ‘that’s where the talent is’ and so we’re showing that,” Ms. Poon said.
Ms. Poon said that there are talented entrepreneurs who have memberships with CO+HOOTS and that they deserve recognition.
“They might be small, but they do big things,” Ms. Poon said.
Brandon Mason, who has a membership with CO+HOOTS, is owner and software architect for Torchlight Software. He said that he enjoys the collaborative aspect of the space and what it does for the people who work in it.
“If you have creative, passionate people working in the same space, there will be a natural rubbing off of ideas. People may discover that they have complementary skills or something in common.”
Recently, CO+HOOTS was approved for $75,000 in grant funding to expand the business to a new space. It will be moving into a new building in downtown Phoenix as early as this summer.
Ms. Poon said that the larger space will provide more elbowroom for businesses to expand without talking over each other and that it will allow for a more efficient environment. Ms. Poon also said CO+HOOTS is also in need of more space for the many events it holds.
“That’s the challenge that we’ll have, is how to keep the collaboration still happening between bigger teams,” Ms. Poon said.
CO+HOOTS has both for-profit and nonprofit sections. Kristin Romaine, co-founder and executive director of the CO+HOOTS foundation, deals with the nonprofit aspect of the business. She said that the new move will impact Phoenix on a larger scale.
“The whole purpose behind the move is to not only expand on the growth of the individual businesses of CO+HOOTS who are outgrowing our current space and in need of more private office options, etc.,” Ms. Romaine said, “but also to infuse innovative nonprofits into our community and provide them with the support they need to capacity build.”
Ms. Romaine said that the most rewarding aspect of her work is providing others with the opportunity to make their community a better place using their individual talents and skills.
“We are building community and collaboration among some of the most innovative thinkers in Phoenix. The power potential of our network is massive and unstoppable.” Ms. Romaine said. “It’s important that we honor these relationships and empower these individuals and their companies to grow Phoenix from the ground up.”
Ms. Poon said that the collaboration of the for-profit and nonprofit is unheard of, but needed.
“These superpowers of for-profit world and non-profit worlds actually working together is something that’s never really been done,” she said.
Ms. Poon also owns Eeko Studio, which is a design and branding company, and fuses the two businesses together.
“I get to see the success of the businesses that are here as well as see it on my client side, and my team gets to be more and more creative,” Ms. Poon said.
Ms. Poon said that as sad as she is when the businesses she helps leave CO+HOOTS, she is proud of the work they do every day.
“As much as we’ve impacted them, they’ve impacted us. They’ve shown that it’s possible here in Phoenix to grow here,” Ms. Poon said.
Ms. Romaine said CO+HOOTS wants to provide a community gathering place for the movers and shakers of downtown and Phoenix in general.
“If you are ready to innovate, change and build something here in the 6-0-2, we want CO+HOOTS to be the place you come to connect, collaborate and co-work with other people who can help make your vision a collective reality,” Ms. Romaine said.
For more information on CO+HOOTS, go to its website.
For more information about Eeko Studio, visit its website.
Editor’s note: Hope Flores wrote the article for a class at the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.