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Cool Coworking Space Spotlight

Coworking is an untapped opportunity in downtown Duncanville, TX


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For many coworking space operators, the journey starts with an unused office or underutilized real estate. But for Audrie McHenry, tax professional and serial entrepreneur, it was a simple realization that her existing office could be so much more.  

A downtown location primed for community 

TEB_8330Located in downtown Duncanville, a small suburb of Texas, McHenry's office space sat vacant for much of the day as her team of contractors worked remotely. With neighbors like the public library, Chamber of Commerce, a city park, and even a bank, the location seemed perfect for serving local professionals in need of an affordable workspace.

"How can I utilize this work space with everyone now working from home?", McHenry recalled considering. "Coworking came to mind."

Her location offers proximity to many well-known Texas areas like Arlington and Dallas, while maintaining a distinctive small-town vibe. "Duncanville has a small-town feel, almost like a back-in-the-day country setting," she described. Just a couple minutes' walk away stands a permanently lit, gas-lit lantern commemorating local veterans.

Building a flexible, modern workspace

With the vision set, McHenry got to work transforming her traditional office into a modern, flexible workspace environment. She avoided the complexities and costs of building out private offices or meeting rooms. Instead, her space will offer an open, hot desking setup.

"It will be like a hot desk type space, an open concept," McHenry explained. "And I can do semi-private spacing if they want something semi-private where I can get a partition to put up around that area."  

The setup maximizes flexibility for everyone from remote workers to entrepreneurs just starting out who may not need a full-time private office but still crave the benefits of a professional workspace setting. McHenry hopes to provide an affordable alternative to renting an office at $700 or more per month.

Every desk will have a window view overlooking the streetscape of downtown Duncanville. And just next door, a newly refreshed pedestrian mall offers a lively mix of outdoor seating areas, cigar lounges, and a venue for community events.

A tax professional's insights

For McHenry, who juggles multiple other businesses like real estate, construction and roofing, having a coworking space that essentially runs itself will be a big plus. "Once this is up and rolling and going, it can kind of really work itself," she said. "I'll need to have an additional person here and make sure things are checking in, make sure that someone is helping me clean up and stuff like that."

Integrated in the local business community

Although McHenry is brand new to the coworking industry, she hasn't wasted any time integrating herself and My Desk Cafe into the fabric of Duncanville's business community. 

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She plans to get advice and tap into programming from the local Chamber of Commerce, which is just steps away. The Chamber hosts a monthly small business vendor fair on the third Saturday that is "definitely on the agenda to add in," according to McHenry.

Her space, while compact, will be available to rent out for networking events hosted by other groups and organizations when the desks can be moved out of the way for standing room only configurations.  

Overall, McHenry sees My Desk Cafe playing a vital role in activating entrepreneurship and supporting founders in the community - a need she noticed while operating her other businesses. "They can let their other clients know like, 'Hey, Duncanville is a really good spot for you to come out to,'' she said.

For coworking space veterans, a story like McHenry's may sound very familiar — an ambitious entrepreneurial spirit, an opportune location, and a balance of professionally executing on the metrics while feeding the magic of building community. 

From her tackling of tasks like setting up a virtual mailbox address to scouting for her first community manager, it's evident McHenry's journey in many ways parallels the lean startup hustle endured by so many coworking space founders before her success.

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