Ben Lachmann of Athensworks
Meet Ben Lachmann, founder of Athensworks, a coworking space in Athens, Ohio.
What is Athensworks?
Athensworks is a collaborative coworking space. It seeks to meet the needs of independent professionals in the Athens, Ohio area by providing a work-focused space where creative collaboration can happen.
How did you come up with the idea?
In 2011, several entrepreneurs including myself started working to create a coworking space in Athens. Coworking spaces are not an uncommon occurrence in large metro areas, but small towns like Athens rarely feature a space for entrepreneurs, leaving the small towns to lag behind in the fields where independent professionals thrive such as the tech-creative space.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Ohio?
Ohio is a great place to do remote work in the tech-creative space. With the cost of living at exorbitant levels in places like San Francisco, NYC and Chicago, being a remote employee or freelancer in areas of Ohio with low cost of living has a large upside on lifestyle.
What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of and how did they help?
We’ve been happy to have a great relationship with Ohio University's Innovation Center
, a local business incubator that serves Southeast Ohio. Our target markets align nicely in that if members grow out of our space they may well end up as clients of the incubator and vice versa.
What inspires you?
We seek to build community between entrepreneurs locally and provide a space that fosters multi-disciplinary collaboration. We have movement artists, videographers, web developers and programmers involved at the workspace, which benefits each member by broadening the people they are exposed to and have access to in their day-to-day work experience.
Can you share some of your favorite off-time activities or hobbies?
I enjoy captaining and playing on a local adult soccer team as well as coaching my kids’ teams. Soccer’s dynamic nature is great for keeping my ability to think quickly sharp and is a nice way of offsetting a desk-centric workday. Recently, I’ve been involved in starting a local community soccer league. At a recent Hack Night hosted by Athensworks, we helped the league integrate their Facebook presence into their website.
What founders do you admire and why?
Steve Jobs. Probably an obvious choice, but the insanely high-attention to detail that Apple gives its products has always encouraged me to do the same for my own products and services.
Jack Dorsey. I’ve had a pleasure of knowing several FourSquare employees and he seems to be one of the most approachable CEOs in the high-profile startup business. FourSquare also has great attention to detail and provides great solutions in their space.
What’s next for you?
Personally, I have a new project in the energy efficiency space that is currently in the research phase and is an exciting new challenge. My past experience has been in software and services, not physical products. Designing physical objects that can’t be changed or updated and have to integrate with the physical world presents a whole set of challenges you don’t have to deal with in software.
At Athensworks, we’re looking to increase our membership. We’ve grown since finding a permanent space in November 2012, but would love to have an even larger group that uses the space. Coworking is most beneficial with a wide-range of members who have different areas of expertise and growing only makes the experience better.
Interview by Joe Baur