General Assembly is a co-working space located in New York’s flat iron district. In recent months the space has become a hotbed for entrepreneurs and investors. In the spring of 2011 I had the pleasure of working out of the space as a communal member. I applied to general assembly (GA) while I was working on devotee and was eventually admitted after a short interview with GA partner Matt Brimer.
So what exactly is GA? It is a co-working space, but it is really much more. GA describes their community as, “a campus for technology, design, and entrepreneurship.”The space is modeled after a college campus and the space includes classrooms, a coffee bar and open seating.
There are two types of members at GA: ‘communal members’ and ‘team members’. Communal members are either individuals or small groups that have access to the entire campus except for the team spaces. The team members are comprised of people working on start-ups with between 5 and 15 people. The team members work in a separate section of the building and have personal desks. The communal members must find an open spot every morning. While I was at GA a communal membership cost only $250 a month. I don’t know how much team memberships cost.
The benefit for teams to join GA are immense and it is the reason why there is a long waiting list to get entry into the space. First off, everything is set up for your company that you would need to personally put together for any other office space. Internet access, food, conference rooms, they are all part of the GA package. Smaller start-ups at GA have the luxury of avoiding the extra costs and time that it would take to set up an office. With all the obstacles a new company faces, it is a treat to forego such hassles. In terms of communal members many of the same benefits exists. Essentially, many of the community members would be working out of a starbucks if they weren’t in GA because they are not at a point where they could afford a small office space.
Out of all the great things GA offers entrepreneurs, I was most impressed with the culture. I found other members of the campus to be helpful and eager in learning about other’s companies. There is a sense of collaborative effort even though everyone was working on different projects. Additionally, the opportunity to meet investors and meet successful entrepreneurs exists every day. GA makes an effort to bring people like Chris Dixon and Fred Wilson for ‘fireside’ chats where only GA members (both team and communal) are invited to participate in a discussion. The fireside chats are extremely informative especially for first time entrepreneurs trying to keep their heads on straight.
In the same way coming out of an accelerator is a stamp of approval, working out of GA is stamp of approval (although not nearly as valuable as coming out of an incubator like techstars). Whether or not something like working out of GA should be seen as a legitimizer, it is.
Recently, GA announced a new round of funding to expand their campus to other cities. They are certainly on a tear and making a major contribution to the NYC start-up ecosystem. Here are some pictures of GA.