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July 07, 2019 | Tom Ballard

SeatsOpen, formerly known as JouleSpace, launches with six beta locations

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

After fine-tuning the backend software and changing the name but not the core concept, Daniel Hodge and Miles Biggs have officially launched their app (click here for the TestFlight beta version for Apple and here for the TestFlight beta version for Google) that facilitates co-working in neighborhood facilities not usually open during the normal “8 to 5” workday.

The new name is SeatsOpen, a change from the beta name that was JouleSpace when the two Co-Founders participated in this year’s “What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch” and tested the concept during Knoxville’s inaugural “Co-Work Week” that was described in this article.

“The name change better represents what we are doing . . . inviting people to come to the venue,” Biggs told us. He’s the Nashville-based Co-Founder, joining with Hodge who is active in the Knoxville start-up space and serves as a consultant to R&R Properties that recently opened Ts117 Modern Coworking earlier this year in Oak Ridge.

“We’re still taking idle real estate on the local level and letting the owner generate additional revenues,” Hodge says. How is that being done?

For those familiar with restaurant reservation sites like Open Table and Resy or lodging apps like Airbnb, you can already get the picture. You are able to reserve a co-working seat on a specific day or days at specific times at a participating location nearby. No more going to a coffee shop and hoping there is space.

You might also consider the concept akin to “fractional co-working.” You can reserve what you need when you need it rather than making a fixed commitment to a specific number of hours or days or weeks.

The SeatsOpen concept differs from more traditional co-working in several other respects. For example, it is designed to let breweries and restaurants generate revenue during hours of the day when they are not normally open, even though some staff might be working. The venue controls the time that it makes co-working seats available and, should it be open at lunch for example, can limit the spots available during those hours.

We asked Hodge and Biggs about minimal services that the restaurant or brewery has to offer.

“Our standards are limited to providing Wi-Fi, (electrical) outlets and quality work space,” Biggs says. Other services like coffee, printers, and being dog friendly present opportunities for the venues to differentiate themselves… “We don’t want to be the arbiter of what people need to work.”

That philosophy translates into the amount the venue charges the co-worker. The market determines those charges.

In addition to generating additional revenue for the business during hours it is normally closed, the SeatsOpen app also captures important data for the co-working site owner and presents it in a user-friendly dashboard.

There’s also a connection component built into the app that allows individuals, if they so choose, to make basic information about themselves available to others who are co-working in the same venue at the same time. That can help facilitate the all-important “creative collisions” which are the hallmark of co-working spaces.

“We are going to let technology take you so far, but you will have to make the effort to introduce yourself,” Hodge says.

As it starts the rollout of the app, Hodge and Biggs have lined-up six venues – one in Knoxville and five in Nashville. The Knoxville location is Last Days of Autumn Brewing, 808 East Magnolia Avenue. It is the same business that was the pilot for the concept during “Co-Work Week.”

“Most of the hosts we are targeting are in the hospitality business already,” Biggs said. That translates into restaurants and breweries like Last Days of Autumn although Hodge says an interior designer and martial arts business have expressed interest.

The Nashville locations include three breweries – Tailgate Brewery, 7300 Charlotte Pike; Honky Tonk Brewing Company, 240 Cumberland Bend; and Little Harpeth Brewing, 30 Oldham Street – plus Stoked, a human-centered design lab, and Vandyke Bed & Beverage, a non-traditional take on the “bed and breakfast” concept in East Nashville.

The two Co-Founders hope the concept takes-off quickly. With a user-friendly way for venues to sign-up as hosts, they have their sights on adding Atlanta, Birmingham and Chattanooga in the near future.

The Co-Founders issued this announcement late last week.

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