Coffee Shop, Art Gallery, Co-Working Space

Michael E. Kirkpatrick ·

I’m always looking for a new “sticky” spot to work from. I don’t like working alone in my apartment, and at the same time I need a space to work from where other people are around but where I can focus without being engaged in constant conversation. It stems a bit from my introverted and extroverted tendencies. If a Meyers Briggs test is any insight; I score approximately right in the middle between introversion and extroversion every time I take it.

So what to do when I want to get work done.

Open a Coffee Shop and Art Gallery

This has always been more of a dream —- a great idea I’ve tossed around with a few good friends. We never really did anything about it.

Go to a Co-Working Space

Great idea but they cost money. And I already have a job with an office; I’m not looking for a second office. Just a place I can go for an hour or a whole evening. I like the idea of community and meeting other folks working on their own projects. But again, $20 a day to drop in is more than I’m looking to shell out. Though a nice desk, couch, fast internet and like-minded people might be well worth the expense. Some co-working spaces offer beer too…

Open a Co-Working Space

I did this thought experiment yesterday. Leasing retail and creative space in my city in a high foot-traffic area runs between $30 and $54 per square foot on a monthly basis. Here’s my quick back-of-the-envelope math:

  • 2,160 ft^2 at $54/ft^2 = $116,640/month
  • ($116,640/month)/(30 days/month) = $3,888/day

Business Model: Free with in-App Purchase

Sell something inside the co-working space

  • Starbucks Latte = $3.48 (Global Average Price)
  • Need to sell 1,118 Starbucks latte equivalents each day to cover the lease — that’s a lot of people buying latte’s or the like

Business Model: Subscriptions

Follow current industry standards and charge for entrance (Sampled from People Space and WeWork)

  • Daily: $20-$50/day
  • Open Seat: $175-$220/month
  • Dedicated Seat: $275-$325/month
  • Office: $450-$825/month

Solving for each independently:


  • 2,333 to 5,832 people per month
  • That’s 78-194 people per day
  • California State University, Long Beach — a local large university — has 37,430 students. That’s getting 15% of the student population to come
  • Or at University of San Diego with 8,251 students, getting 71% of the student body to come
  • I don’t know that we can get a small private university sized group of people to pay $20 a day to work in our space — so maybe the question is how to do this…

Open Seat

  • 530-667 monthly members
  • Might be do-able
  • Say a desk and chair occupy 16 ft^2 (4’ x 4’), we can fit 135 desks in our 2,160 ft^2 space. And this is going to be tight.
  • Trick is this monthly members could only show up every 4 or 5 days otherwise we wouldn’t have enough seats unless they staggered themselves out across the day.

Dedicated Seat

  • 359-424 monthly members
  • That’s a lot of dedicated desks — More than 2.5 times the available desks
  • Not gonna work


  • 141-259 monthly members
  • An office is more like 100 ft^2. We’ve got 2,160 ft^2.
  • So we can accommodate 216 offices…maybe this could work

Go to Starbucks / Coffee Shop

For $3+ I can buy a hot chocolate and a chunk of time in a seat at a coffee shop. Trick is Wifi Internet access isn’t always fast — though Google started partnering with Starbucks in 2013 to increase speeds at coffee shops. You are also stuck at a table that’s not likely near a power outlet so you can only stay as long as your battery can last unless you’re the lucky one by the power outlet. The seats also aren’t uber comfortable. But hey, for $3, it’s a place to sit and a place many people do just that.


It’s tough having a nearly free or free spot to drop in to work. Starbucks can do it because they can sell 1,118 latte’s a day (or 64 latte’s per hour — one per minute. They can decrease this number by also selling you a pastry). For now, I’ll continue going to Starbucks; at least until I figure out a business model that works when it comes to opening a co-working space. The real trick might be optimizing for the price per square foot (I picked the highest for my example).