By now you may know that I’m the cofounder and community leader for Radius CoWork. If I’ve done my job really well, then you don’t know that I’m the cofounder and community leader for Radius CoWork. The point of coworking isn’t the cofounders, it isn’t the community manager, it isn’t even the business. It’s all about the people. Radius as a thing doesn’t do much, it provides a desk and facilitates connections. All the wonderful things you’ve heard about Radius are because the coworking members, the people who join this community and fuel it, keep doing incredible things. We’re just their story tellers.
You can read a lot of those stories on Radius’ content platform, Full Circle.
I got into this gig because my cofounder, Bill Scholz, managed to convince me that we could put a coworking space together in 6 months. It was an optimistic projection. When we met, I was living in DC but I had the opportunity to take a contract working in Erie, my hometown. I had worked at a coworking space in DC and thought I’d join one in Erie. Unfortunately, one did not exist, but Bill existed and he wanted a coworking space, too. Between us, we found 15 other people who wanted to work together to share ideas and resources.
So we pulled all those people who were eager to work together into a space, we put in desks, one guy brought in a turntable, another a microwave, we hung art, we painted, someone added a TV in a conference room, another set up a router. Should be all done, right? Not so fast. You need to incorporate, set up accounting, build a brand… we realized that we needed to run an actual business.
Bill and I learned that this would be a much larger and longer project than we anticipated, but we also realized that there were far greater opportunities. We pursued them. Now, Radius partners to pull off two annual conferences (check out the Erie Day of Code), we host free workshops for business services, there are weekly lunch & learns, and happy hours. We added a new wing with new facilities, created a pop-up art gallery, and sponsored cultural events. All the while, our community of members grew.
Six months ago I gave a TED Talk about coworking, it has some of our best stories.
Bill and I stayed in Erie to do this work, to build this thing, because we returned to find extraordinary opportunity in this city. Instead of clawing my way among hundreds of people doing what I wanted to do in DC, I was one of a few in Erie. I don’t like the big-fish-little-pond analogy because it implies the pond is staying the same size. Instead, coming back to Erie was like being the first guy at the party. I got to crack the first beer and set the tone with my favorite mixtape. (MIXTAPE: Ease in with Murder by Death, turn it up with Daft Punk, Skrillex the night away, close with Protomen for wit & energy).
It turns out, we weren’t the only ones. After years of operation, David Baltusavich wanted to turn his software development company, Synatree, into a much larger firm. Andrew Chernauskas wanted to get out of the house and join other remote workers in the city. Jessica Yochim was looking for a place with the tech and business connections to build her videography company, Menajerie Studio. Matthew Retkowski wanted to build and run an art gallery project. Greg Windle needed to get Erie Multimedia out of a café and into an office. Zak Stahlsmith needed people to fuel his personal passion for his startup, Apex Drop. Dan Doubet needed a home for his non-profit. And the Coderie Meetup needed a place for their monthly meetings. If anything, we learned that we were part Erie’s new cohort of leaders in fields from tech startups, to political advocacy, to artists.
Erie, it turns out, is a scene the world is watching. NPR’s Marketplace recently dropped this article about the city.
Radius CoWork – Sean Fedorko
For the last 30 months, I’ve been working to build Radius. For the last 20 months, it’s been my full time project. As of May 1st Radius has been open for 2 years. And do you know what? We’ve done it, we’ve built a coworking community and given it a home in Erie, PA. The members who have joined the Radius community are technologists and graphic designers, they’re photographers and videographers, they’re remote workers and professionals with fancy offices elsewhere, they’re 3rd-career consultants and 20-something freelancers. And they enjoy one another, help one another, learn from one another. Hell, we even finally managed to get them all decent chairs!
Now that the frantic startup period is over, we’re finally settling in. But we had one more thing to do. We needed a community manager, and we’ve found her. Someone who will be building her own business and has found the network and resources she needs at Radius. We are very happy to announce that Aubry Regan is joining us to help create the atmosphere of Radius.
Learn more about the role of a community manager, and about Aubry herself, here.
With the physical space complete, the business running smoothly, and a community manager joining the team, Bill and I are free to start our NEXT projects. What am I doing? The next awesome step for me is to build and manage a larger company. I’ve grown into my role as a community story teller, and I’ve wanted to get back into the world of tech, so I’ve joined the leadership team at the digital marketing agency, Werkbot Studios. This is especially cool because Werkbot is located directly beneath Radius. I can now join the rest of the coworking members as someone building an incredible company, working IN the coworking space, rather than ON the coworking space.
For more about my new chapter, and about Werkbot, check out my story on the Werkbot blog.
You’ll continue to see me all around the Erie community advocating for coworking. Bill, too (and he’ll tell you more about his own next project soon). We’re still the passionate founding members of Erie’s coworking community, and in some ways, we’re good examples of why coworking is so important to Erie: We couldn’t begin the new projects we’re about to without the support of the coworking community. Like so many other members, the inspiration, education, and support that naturally occurs in a coworking space have enabled us to rapidly learn and pursue new opportunities. I may have been one of the first people to the party, but it feels like the scene is starting to get pretty damn hip.