Cool Coworking Space Spotlight

Green Hive Spaces empowers entrepreneurs and uplifts communities

Green Hive Spaces is revolutionizing the concept of coworking in suburban areas, providing affordable and equitable workspace solutions to the everyday entrepreneur. 

At the helm of this transformative venture is Drake Rankin, whose vision extends beyond merely offering office spaces. Rankin’s mission is to build communities, foster education, and create opportunities in underserved areas.

Right outside a tech stronghold is a resource for everyone else

Drake Rankin Greenhive SpacesDrake Rankin’s journey into the world of coworking began in 2016 when he owned a social media marketing company. His first client was one of the coworking spaces that he now owns and operates. His challenge then is his same challenge now in the town outside the Bay Area: educating companies and people on the benefits of a shared workspace.

“That was my intro to coworking and my job was to solve that problem — here we are eight years later, it’s still a problem and I am still trying to solve it,” Rankin reflected. His commitment to making workspace solutions affordable and equitable is the driving force behind Green Hive Spaces.

The concept behind the operation is simple yet powerful: provide workspace solutions to smaller suburban communities that are often overlooked and underserved. 

Rankin explained, “In most of the spaces we’ve opened, we are the first coworking space in that city, in fact, even the entire county that we're in right now, which is Solano County here in the Bay Area.” Green Hive currently operates two of the three coworking spaces in the county, with a third on the way.

Where work meets community and education

banner-officeFor Rankin, coworking is not just about providing office space; it’s about creating a positive impact on the community. This vision extends to educational initiatives aimed at bridging the gap between suburban areas and major urban centers like San Francisco. 

Rankin describes the disparity: “When you're in Vallejo, you're back in 2001, and you're in San Francisco, you're in 2030 with driverless cars.” Despite the geographical proximity, the economic and technological gap is significant. Green Hive Spaces aims to bridge this gap by bringing Silicon Valley’s best minds to suburban communities and offering educational opportunities that were previously inaccessible.

“Providing the workspace is one piece of it, providing the education is another, and then being truly involved in the communities that we're in. We do a lot of volunteering, I’m a member of local Rotary clubs, the people on our team donate to local nonprofits — activities which are really important to show that we are actively involved,” Rankin emphasized. This holistic approach not only fosters business growth but also strengthens community ties.

Convincing remote workers to leave home

One of the challenges Green Hive Spaces faces is the lack of awareness about coworking in suburban areas. Rankin admits, “We've been in Vallejo since 2016, and I always tell people we, to this day, get people that say they have no idea that we were there. Some have no idea what coworking is at all.” 

This lack of familiarity is both a challenge and an opportunity. Green Hive Spaces gets to educate the local market about the benefits of flexible workspaces, but does compete with traditional leases and work-from-home solutions.

To address this, Green Hive Spaces focuses on creating value for a diverse range of members, from nonprofits to startup entrepreneurs. Rankin elaborated, “We have a ton of nonprofits in our spaces. We also have more established organizations like law firms and bigger companies that don't necessarily want to open an office, like eXp real estate. They don't need an office. They just need the address.” However, the primary target remains the startup entrepreneurs who need affordable space to grow without the burden of long-term leases.

Navigating the land of landlord relationships

Securing the right locations for Green Hive Spaces has been a significant hurdle. Landlords in suburban areas are often unfamiliar with the concept of flex offices and coworking, and are hesitant to adopt creative leasing structures. 

Rankin explained, “Landlords generally don't know much about coworking — they don't know what it is. They don't want to engage in any creative leasing structure. They just want things to be done the way they've been done for the past 50 years.”

Despite these challenges, Rankin remains optimistic. “As long as we have one landlord in a city that is willing to take that jump and try something new that really hasn't been done in this area, we're still moving forward,” he says. This perseverance has paid off in their Fairfield location, where a supportive landlord has been instrumental in setting up affordable spaces and offering services that meet community needs.

Predictability coupled with personalized services

Green Hive Spaces understands that each community has unique needs and preferences. This insight drives their approach to offering tailored solutions. Rankin explains, “We like to look at the way we're at least planning to build our spaces as areas. So look at Solano County, for instance, as one area. All four or five of the spaces that are located within one county should give you all the resources that you need.”

For example, in the town of Benicia, which has a heavy tech-focus, Green Hive Spaces plans to introduce 3D printing in its facilities. In Fairfield, where e-commerce is prevalent, they might offer spaces equipped for e-commerce photography. This adaptability ensures that each space serves the specific needs of its community while maintaining a consistent core offering across locations. And Coworks software will help all the members.

A welcoming environment that also delivers on privacy

One surprising challenge Green Hive Spaces has encountered is the high demand for privacy. Rankin notes, “I know coworking is, in some senses, an anti-private model. But phone booths and conference rooms, meeting rooms, there are a lot of privacy options.” This demand has led to a pivot in the office configuration, focusing more on private offices and virtual office services, which have seen significant uptake.

Rankin observes, “Virtual offices fly off the shelves. Our private spaces take maybe a month to get another tenant. It took 15 days for our last private space to get rented back out.” But the open coworking memberships are slower. This insight highlights the importance of flexibility in their offerings and the need to balance affordability with the provision of private, individualized spaces.

As Green Hive Spaces continues to expand, Rankin is aware of the challenges that lie ahead. He acknowledged the importance of community involvement and understanding the cultural nuances of each location. “There's no amount of data that's going to give you all the answers for these types of solutions,” he said, speaking from experience as someone who worked in commercial real estate. “I find that the best solution is just having open candid discussions with the people who live in these communities and from all different types of walks.”

Rankin’s dedication to community-driven solutions is evident in his proactive approach. His vision for Green Hive Spaces goes beyond providing office space. It’s about creating a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurs, fostering education, and making a positive impact on communities. By addressing the unique needs of suburban areas and overcoming challenges with creativity and perseverance, Green Hive Spaces is setting a new standard for coworking. As Rankin and his team continue to grow, their commitment to community and innovation will undoubtedly lead to more success stories and thriving local economies.

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