Kids and Coworking: What We All Need to Know

NextKids coworking and childcare

OT has already explored the early efforts of Diana Rothschild, the San Francisco mom who brought NextKids to the NextSpace coworking space.

We are happy to report that she and NextKids are still going strong, according to a recent Mashable article which spotlights NextKids along with a few other spaces offering childcare.

Rothschild’s journey has been a long yet admirable one that took her from stay at home mom to CEO of NextSpace, to founder of NextKids – a shining example of how industriousness and perseverance can pay off.

A large part of the success of NextKids is due to the solid business acumen of Diana Rothschild. Many likeminded coworking operators were marketing their coworking spaces by sprinkling in amenities to attract new members. Things like kids’ birthday parties and special classes for kids looked good on paper, but were not necessarily good for the balance sheet.

And, while early surveys of local parents leaned towards a space where they could drop off and pick up their kids anytime, Rothschild recognized a disaster in the making, remarking that the idea was “lovely in concept, but horrible in business model.”

Ultimately, what made Rothschild successful was her resistance to doing what others might have intuitively done and following her better business instincts. “I’m creating a high-quality standard of care and sticking to what I believe is true, even though the survey results did not tell me to do that,” Rothschild said. “If I had, we would have been out of business in three to six months.”

Unfortunately, many childcare/coworking spaces have gone out of business. Centers including Bean Work Play Café in Decatur, Georgia, and Plug and Play in Austin, Texas, closed their doors within a year.

There are many moving parts to this type of coworking space and much work is still needed for the concept to become successful on a broader scale. Jill Salzman, founder of The Founding Moms, is seeking to build that model by better understanding what women want and need in a space that balances mom-world with working-world.

For Jill, it is about tapping into the collective minds of women and exploring ideas for how the two can come together successfully. Says Jill, “It’s definitely going to happen at some point, we just don’t know how or when.”

“I think the concept of literally mixing business with children is so new that we are a little bit before our time,” she adds.

Given the attention now being given to building successful, sustainable childcare/coworking models, there is hope for eventually developing a model that can thrive over the long term. Thanks to the trailblazing efforts of Diana Rothschild and Jill Salzman, that could be sooner rather than later.

Rothschild has hard-earned advice for those who are seeking to start their own coworking/childcare space. “Get really clear on your vision and keep that perfect model always in front of you,” she says. And don’t try to do it all yourself, she cautions. “Figure out what you’re really good at and partner for the stuff you’re not as good at or want to save time and energy on,” she adds.

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And, of course, in the end, there must be passion and a drive to make it work, along with a love of what you do.

“Have fun with it,” says Diana Rothschild. “It’s a lot of work, but there’s so much joy and so many cool and creative ways to bring communities together.”

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