We’re barely even at the halfway mark for 2019, but it’s already turning out to be a busy year for WeWork.
Just this January, the collaborative workspace provider announced a major rebrand to The We Company, branching out into three new divisions: the office-focused WeWork, the education-centric WeGrow, and the residential WeLive. Along with the announcement is the promise of new residential and education units this year, as well as a rise in acquisitions and new hires.
Shortly afterwards, Curbed reports that they had also debuted their first retail concept, Made by We. The space, which opened in Manhattan earlier this year, showcases goods created by members of the fast-growing WeWork community. And of course, let’s not forget the even more recent revelation that the company is going public with an IPO.
Nine years and 550 global locations since it was founded right here in New York, WeWork now has its eyes set on the food world. Under their “Labs” division, the WeWork Food Labs is set to provide a space for food innovators to come together. On their website, the company has shared their high hopes in fueling the future of food. “We support early-stage innovators across the food ecosystem, including companies making food more sustainable through AI, robotics, kitchen appliances, supply chain, ag tech, distribution software, consumer goods, hospitality, and beyond,” they clarified in a statement.
Moreover, Food Labs will include an accelerator program to bolster and support the growth of its startup members. To the humble tune of an investment worth over $1 million, WeWork will offer two programming tracks — namely, the Food Labs Membership and the Food Labs Accelerator. To join, the fees for interested individuals and startups begin at $300. While this might sound a little steep, would-be members are certainly in for more than just the standard cubicle and coffee on tap.
Indeed, a personal dedicated space, private offices, a food pantry, phone booths, and conference rooms are just some of the extra amenities that come with membership at the WeWork Food Labs. Though the facilities don’t include a commercial kitchen, members are entitled access to other premiere kitchens at an exclusive discount.
And as is characteristic of the newly minted The We Company, Food Labs’ main attraction is its events and the community it strives to build. This poses a fantastic opportunity for members to get meaningful feedback from the food innovators’ community and build networks as they go.
But more than anything, Food Labs is a chance for budding entrepreneurs to at least get their foot in the door. This opportunity is crucial in a city like New York, where competition can be very stiff for businesses, especially when you’re just starting out. After all, the city isn’t very forgiving when it comes to costs.
Real estate experts Yoreevo note that the average price of a New York property is over $1.12 million, which makes the Big Apple one of the most expensive cities to live in across the globe. This shocking expense trickles down to its commercial units, with a basic space costing a monthly average of $653 per square foot, or as much as $3,642 per square foot for prime retail spaces. With all of this in mind, being able to start even a simple business requires a good amount of privilege. But with Food Labs, every entrepreneur stands a chance at bringing their vision to life.
It’s interesting to note that WeWork is mostly focusing on startups that want to tackle critical issues in the food industry, particularly with regard to sustainability. This move is in line with last year’s announcement about the company’s efforts to go plant-based. An article on the Observer reveals that WeWork aims to ban meat products from its spaces’ events in an attempt to reduce their carbon footprint.
Though “sustainable” and “ethical practices” have become buzzwords among brands nowadays, WeWork seems to be dead serious about their efforts in empowering a generation of creatives, entrepreneurs, and culture shakers. Of course, this all starts with having the tools of the trade, and a space that allows its occupants to thrive.