BrightLane, an upcoming Toronto coworking space at the corner of King St. West and Spadina Avenue, wants to build something in the 153-foot alleyway beside the building. And they don’t mind if your idea is a bit crazy.
The coworking space isn’t expected to open until October, but in the meantime BrightLane will accept design proposals for nearly any idea. Anybody can submit their idea, whether it be “a giant waterslide, hot-dog hut, a life sized T-rex statue, whatever people think can improve our space,” said president George Horhota.
The alleyway will be used as a path to access the building’s main entrance. For this reason, all designs and ideas must allow for a person to pass through the space and reach the entrance at the end. Submissions can be as simple as a single sentence or as detailed as a digital rendering. BrightLane will accept submissions until June 30.
We chatted with general manager Susy Renzi about how the new coworking space came to be, as well as its broader goals. “We want to be a bit more than a coworking space; we want to provide education and help for businesses, and the whole idea is collaboration,” Renzi told BetaKit. “If there’s two companies sitting right next to each other, is there anything that they can collaborate on that might help them both out, increase their portfolio a bit.”
The building, still under construction, is being funded by G. Raymond Chang, the Jamaican-Chinese chancellor of Ryerson University who formerly served as CEO and Chairman of CI Financial. His name also graces the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education in downtown Toronto at Ryerson.
Chang formerly funded Mercatus Technoligies, a Toronto-based multi-channel commerce platform for grocery retail. Mercatus will be the first company to move into the building, and Renzi formerly worked for the business before moving on to run a web development agency.
The new coworking space’s president, Horhota, actually ran a coworking space in ten years ago, which was “definitely ahead of his time,” said Renzi.
It’s CFO will be Andrew Chang, who also formerly worked at Mercatus Technologies as a Financial Comptroller and business development guy .
Renzi is aware that a few well-established coworking space already reside around the King West and Spadina intersection, so it may be a challenge initially convincing startups that BrightLane is the best option. Both corporate coworking spaces like Regus or more startup entrepreneur-friendly locations like Project: RHINO are already favoured in the area.
“We know we’re going to offer something a little bit different,” said Renzi. “We’re 30,000 square feet, so it’s a pretty large building, we’re going to offer everything like the others do but we hope to be able to offer a little bit more in terms of education and the types of speakers that we may be able to attract to our space, considering the type of people who are associated with it.”
While the space hasn’t came up with a firm price for a desk for startups, Renzi said that “they’re going to be in line with what everyone else has been doing. I don’t think we’re going to be higher.” As well, those who sign up to work there from the start will receive a discount above all newcomers who come after its opening.
A much more detailed website will come in July, which is when BrightLane encourages startups and entrepreneurs to check out the site.