Cross brings creative professionals together with Enclave

Thu, Oct 13, 2011

One on One

Ryan Cross, 31, created a shared working space called The Enclave because he was tired of squatting in coffee shops with other creative professionals to do his freelance work.

Cross got the idea for The Enclave after seeing co-working offices in action in Denver and Boulder.

Tell us a little about The Enclave and what it is?

The Enclave is a co-working space — the first, and thus far only one in Colorado Springs.

A co-working space is a place where freelancers, contractors and remote workers can work as an alternative to coffee shops, their homes or offices that can hinder creativity and be a distraction. The Enclave aims to be a clean, creative environment where the coffee comes with the monthly rate instead of an obligatory expense.

I’ve been asked many times how a co-working space differs from a traditional office.

The answer is quite simple. We don’t have cubicles or offices. You won’t get a secretary here, nor a land line or a waiting area. We have an open floor plan. This allows each member to literally act as a resource to others while still having their own desk, their own space. For example, I’m not a designer, but we have designers in the space working alongside me every day. When I run into trouble, they are there to give me Photoshop advice, or for me to even contract work out. Likewise, if they ever have a Javascript or Ruby on Rails question, I’m here to help them through it. That in itself has been an incredibly powerful tool. You are not alone.

You could run your web-application business from anywhere in the country. Why Colorado Springs?

It’s true my line of work allows me a lot of freedom. Colorado Springs is a wonderful and diverse city. It’s a beautiful place to live. Not to mention that both my wife and I have family here. It’s a great place to raise our children. Overall, it is quite an attractive place to be.

Aside from these reasons, I believe Colorado Springs has a lot of potential. Over the past 10 years, I have watched as Colorado Springs moved from hosting many large, respectable technology companies to having only a handful remain, most of those at half staff or less. We’re finally starting to see a change. Not that those sorts of companies are moving back, but many individuals are coming out of the woodwork as freelancers and independent contractors. I find this very exciting.

What types of people are drawn to The Enclave? Who are your “co-workers”?

The professions we’ve found that tend to do really well in The Enclave are either technical or creative. I realize this sounds like a contradiction, but most of the people here who are on the technical side of things see what they do as an art. I’d imagine this plays somewhat into why they find the environment so attractive. That attitude really lends itself to a creative and inspiring atmosphere. I can easily see the place being valuable to photographers, videographers, authors and editors as well. Our membership varies incredibly with regard to their professions. We even have a member who creates miniature figurines for role playing games professionally. It’s incredibly diverse and we love it!

What do you think the future possibilities are for The Enclave?

We’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. The answer really comes down to why we exist in the first place; what our goals are. We’re not just a fancy place to work. We exist to allow for some cohesion among the surfacing freelancers, entrepreneurs and startups here in Colorado Springs. We are a place to work, along with a place for groups to meet in the evenings and weekends, a place for people to meet with their clients, brainstorm with each other, etc. I think there’s a huge need for these things. In my experience, before The Enclave, you could find a user group that focused on one technology, but you wouldn’t have immediate access to many professions in the same place. That’s what we’re trying to build: Community.

What do you believe are the biggest opportunities and challenges young professionals face in Colorado Springs that they may not have in other communities?

This city has so many defining strengths; our colleges, military bases, and tourism.

Sadly, start-ups and entrepreneurialism aren’t in that list. People tend to think of Boulder or Denver for tech start-ups in Colorado. That’s great, if you want to live there. But a lot of us are here in the Springs who don’t necessarily want to relocate for our careers.

Finding a good environment in which to cultivate our businesses has been a huge challenge We’re not a huge city, but we’re growing at a rate that is undeniably leading to a stronger freelancer ecosystem. The Enclave is just one sizable step in that direction

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