EDINBURG, RGV – A few years back, Daniel Rivera was doing some part time teaching and running his freelance photography business on the side.
He worked out of his home and would meet clients in Starbucks or Moonbeans. However, he did not particularly want to work out of his house. He wanted to interact with other photographers and small business owners. So, he started to investigate co-working.
“I was doing some freelance photography work and was meeting people at Starbuck’s and doing the living room thing. That kind of got old and I wanted to not work by myself. It was getting lonely working on the kitchen table by myself. I was looking for something whereby I could work alongside other freelancers and small businesses and bounce ideas off of them,” Rivera explained.
“I called a friend in Dallas. He was a photographer. I asked him, where do you do your work? He said he worked in a co-working space and it is pretty cool. It was probably about four years ago when I had that phone conversation. Four years ago, you could not Google co-working and find very much going on. I went to Twitter and started searching for co-working. I ended up going to three conferences over the last four years and visited a ton of co-working spaces. I decided I was going to bring co-working down to the Valley.
The result is Grindstone Coworking, a happening place in Edinburg, Texas, that opened in November 2015. Rivera owns the co-working space and has partnered with Edinburg Economic Development Corporation to create a non-profit spin-off, The Hive Effect. This program provides seminars for members to learn how to become better small business owners.
“Working with Letty and Gus at Edinburg EDC and Dr. John Sargent at UTRGV, we developed this program to really fill in the gaps that we felt we saw. I tell people, I do not want to add more noise to what is going on for entrepreneurial development. I want to amplify what is going on. Instead of doubling up on things that were already happening, we are trying to partner up with people and amplify those messages. So, people get the best help when they come in for a class, to help them move their business to the next level.”
Asked what he has learned, Rivera said: “A ton. The cool thing is, if you look at this as a clubhouse, we started the clubhouse with 15 members. From there we have been able to expand. The Hive Effect program has really helped us add to that. Now, we have 45 members and we are expanding our facilities next door.”
The expansion is needed, Rivera said, because Grindstone only has five private offices. The rest is communal space. With the expansion, there will be five more spaces so that companies that share an office at Grindstone can have their own. By way of an example, Rivera cited the case of a construction company and an accountancy firm that had a desk each in one office. “They get to a point where their businesses have grown and they are ready to jump into their own office.”
Rivera said of the 45 members at Grindstone, most own a small business. “They do business out of Starbucks or Moonbeans or out of their home and they find they are not as productive as they thought they would be. They will come and get a membership here. My job is to build a community around what we are doing so I have a lot of events, such as Salad Mondays.”
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series on Grindstone Coworking. Part Two will be published next week. Video by Ena Capucion and Apolonio Sandoval, Jr. Video editing by Stephanie Jara.