Launch Fishers is one of three AT&T Engagement Centers, but it’s also one of the largest coworking spaces in the United States. Located in Fishers, Indiana, Launch currently hosts more than 550 members in 52,000 sq ft of multi-use workspace. Yet, what’s really unique about this flexible workspace is that the city, local businesses, and larger companies have all come together to create an entrepreneurial hub where innovation, growth, and the gig economy are at the front and center.
To learn more about Launch Fishers, the concept behind it and the role of AT&T, we interviewed John Wechsler, the founder of Launch Fishers, and an active advisor to the entrepreneurs and startups that are a part of the Launch community.
Can you explain what an AT&T Engagement Center is, and how it works?
AT&T has established three engagement centers: one in Yankee Stadium in New York City, another in AT&T Park in San Francisco, but its location within Launch Fishers, which is one of the largest co-working facilities in the country, located in Fishers, Ind., was designed specifically for connecting with entrepreneurs. It’s a way for AT&T to better showcase products, services, and technology platforms with local business owners and developers. AT&T wants to learn more about these businesses, and being imbedded with them and growing through shared experiences is its strategy.
Because AT&T’s Engagement Center sits within Launch Fishers’ coworking space, our members (615 individuals representing 350+ companies) are able to get direct access to, learn about and try technologies that could support the growth of their businesses.
The engagement center in Launch Fishers contains elements that you’d see at an AT&T retail store, like mobile devices, charging stations and video screens, but we also use a kiosk that allows entrepreneurs to collaborate with peers and AT&T subject matter experts. Together, they absorb, discuss and develop ideas around industry innovations. AT&T also hosts events and programming in the engagement center, including device demonstrations and workshops.
For example, AT&T hosted an Internet of Things Civic Hackathon at Launch Fishers, which pulled in people with different skill sets to create solutions for civic problems, like drug abuse. So our focus for collaboration is on technology, but also how we use it optimally.
Is it open to everybody or just internal AT&T employees? (or both?)
Launch Fishers is inclusive, it, and the engagement center, is open to members and guests, but our members receive benefits and support. A number of AT&T employees are now Launch Fishers members, and they regularly work from the space.
What is AT&T’s reasoning for launching a coworking space – what are the main objectives they plan to achieve?
Launch Fishers opened its doors four years ago–the coworking space has, in many ways, been a collaboration with the city of Fishers to foster emerging businesses and provide a launching pad, if you will, for growth. This tied into city plans to create an entrepreneurial community as part of its growth strategy. Our member companies aren’t saddled with overhead and expenses that can challenge a business in its early years. They are given space and time to develop, and also gain support from peers. Launch members, who are largely entrepreneurial, are connected and supportive of each other.
Launch Fishers itself has grown: in March, we moved into a 52,000 square-foot facility that allowed us to create thirteen rentable office suites, increased workspace for members, additional dedicated desk spaces and a larger coffee shop complete with booth seating. The building also includes 18 meeting rooms and conference space that can accommodate events with up to 200 attendees. The space also accommodates AT&T’s Engagement Center and a news satellite studio for Inside INdiana Business, Indianapolis’ only business news show.
Because Launch Fishers has such a dynamic culture and a booming entrepreneurial community, AT&T was very interested in being part of our new space. It wanted to try something new to develop a relationship with the innovation community. We feel lucky to have such a great partner in AT&T.
How does the pricing work?
Launch Fishers members pay $750 per year for individual memberships. Dedicated desks and private offices are additional and sponsors contribute to help fund programming and technology upgrades. Lastly, the City of Fishers owns the building and contributes the building to Launch Fishers as ongoing support.
Do you see this model being rolled out in other locations, or is this more of an experiment?
Scott Fadness, mayor of Fishers, and I work closely together. We’ve presented the Launch Fishers model, creating co-working spaces as an engine for economic growth, to other cities and communities. We believe this idea can be replicated; it’s a concept that is emblematic of how business is being conducted in today’s gig economy and definitely an innovative way to support entrepreneurism and job growth.