Kismet Cowork, a year-old operator of co-working space, has opened its second location in 6,000 square feet at 448 N. 10th St. in Philadelphia and is eyeing a third site in a prime location in the Manayunk neighborhood of the city.
Kismet opened last year in 6,000 square feet in Chestnut Hill and is the brainchild of Christopher Plant, a commercial and residential real estate broker. The co-working company joins several other local co-working operators with a presence in the region such as 1776 and Indy Hall.
Other firms from outside of Philadelphia such as WeWork, the Yard, Pipeline and Make Offices are also trying to grab market share as co-working continues to be a growing segment in the office market.
Plant came to his second location while working on a couple of projects in the Spring Arts area of the city where Arts & Craft Holdings, a Philadelphia real estate company, has assembled several properties and converted them into office space.
“I was looking at all of the buildings and fell in love with 448 N. 10th Street,” Plant said. “It has some strange cosmic powers. Once you get up on the fifth, sixth and seventh floors, the views are magnetic. I quickly came to the realization it would make a great co-working space.”
Kismet has its own model that Plant believes separates it from the competition. For one, it is targeting what it considers tertiary markets and 448 N. 10th fits within that strategy. It’s not in the heart of Center City or Old City; it's just a tad outside but still not too far afield. People can work in the space and still have access to downtown's Central Business District or the Old City tech corridor known as "N3rd Street."
“The Chestnut Hill location was on the outskirts and people familiar with co-working had to go downtown to a densely populated area to find that kind of space,” Plant said.
As Plant works through how he wants to differentiate Kismet from the competition and grow his business, he has come to the conclusion that co-working spaces need to evoke a lifestyle that people want to be a part of since the eventual aim is membership. In contrast, Plant believes many of the co-working spaces that occupy space along West Market Street and some other Center City buildings are essentially replicating a corporate environment.
“I think people interested in co-working aren’t interested in that,” he said. “We want to create a super relaxed atmosphere and we study how a space works. We want to make spaces that are super comfortable through design, artwork, plants and create a culture that is about business but not overly business. We want to make spaces that are an extension of your home.”
While many co-working operators focus on helping fledgling companies develop business plans or finding an investor audience to pitch projects, Kismet is concentrating on content, programming and workshops. Plant likens this aspect of Kismet to professional development.
“We want to talk about things people are thinking about,” he said. “We want to make something that fits into people’s lives and connects to different parts of it.”
To that end, Kismet held a program on climate change, a viewing of All The President’s Men with a discussion that followed with a film professor from the University of Pennsylvania who is also a Kismet member, and, during one of its “lunch and learn” events, a visit from Citizens Bank to talk about small business lending.
Kismet has started to work on its third location in Manayunk, which will be 12,000 square feet and open later this year. The Manayunk location will be its biggest and prompted Plant to ponder what sizes Kismet spaces should be heading into the future. The company has decided it won’t occupy more than 15,000 square feet and that future spaces will likely run between 6,000 and 10,000 square feet. It is looking at expanding throughout the region and opening two to three new locations a year. It plans to target Ardmore, Media, Conshohocken, Phoenixville, Jenkintown and Princeton and other areas as it creates a network of co-working spaces throughout the region.
Philadelphia Business Journal