Today we’d like to introduce you to Levi Baer.
Levi, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Nicole Vasquez and I came together to bring Second Shift to life because we both see community building as THE path for productive and successful businesses. Nicole was two years into building and running The Shift, her first coworking space, all herself in the Uptown neighborhood. During that time, she and I met and she got to know my passion for entrepreneurship and bringing people together while I got to know her deftness for running a small business.
In March of 2016, after we had collaborated on multiple events and small endeavors, Nicole came back from a trip touring European coworking spaces and asked me if I wanted to start a new space with her in Logan Square. It didn’t take long for me to see the possibilities so we got to work and almost exactly one year later we opened the doors to Second Shift. As of November 2017, we are now eight months into operations and are at 65 coworking members and growing.
Building a collaborative community is the fun part… the most difficult thing we did was probably fundraising, which we did through personal investments from individuals in our network rather than big banks or VC. It was a humbling experience, but we’re proud of making this a community effort from the beginning. We are a small business run by two people who are learning as we go and willing to do whatever it takes to thrive. It has not always been an easy journey, but it’s a journey we love none-the-less.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has definitely not always been a smooth road to bring this business to life. At the most frustrating moments I’ve remembered to ask myself if I love what we’re building more than I dislike any setback, and the answer has always been “yes” this is well worth it!
Overseeing the buildout of the space was one of the more challenging moments. It only took three months but felt like a lifetime. Managing the budget, checking on contractors, and most importantly deciding where, what, and how every single detail of the interior looked were all tasks that were foreign and challenging for me.
I have also had to keep a close eye on personal burnout, as any startup founder should. You want to give the project your all, and often figuratively or even literally that is the case. However, everyone has limits and recognizing and making time for personal care has been extremely important. There’s always plenty of work to do, but for me, if I don’t make sure I have downtime at home each week or time to play games with friends regularly, then it’s really not worth it.
Second Shift – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Second Shift is a coworking space, meaning a shared office for freelancers, remote workers, and entrepreneurs to come get work done and collaborate with others in a fun and productive setting. It works on a subscription model; coworking members pay for monthly access to space, either their own desk or open tables, and enjoy a variety of perks like free gourmet coffee, meeting rooms, phone booths, fast WiFi, and access to events.
The thing that really sets Second Shift apart is also what I’m most proud of, and that is our diverse community of members that support one another and collaborate every day. We don’t make engagement with others mandatory, but we do provide ample and easy opportunity for people to get to know each other, brainstorm, hire each other, or socialize as friendships form. We’ve even had one new company form from members meeting each other in the space and seeing an opportunity to collaborate!
Inclusion is built into our business, so all people are welcome as long as they make others feel welcome.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is still a work in progress for me and I am honestly not sure yet what it looks like in my life. I am proud of many of the things I have been able to accomplish so far like completing a Masters Degree, growing a community of entrepreneurs (Coffee & Conversation), teaching college-level classes, and of course launching Second Shift. Heck, I’m even proud of being a nationally ranked Settlers of Catan player at one point!
However, I know I have strides yet to make in certain areas like income, ability to travel, and like many people, I wish to be able to care for my family as needed.
I think everyone should continually ask themselves the questions of what does success look like and who is defining it for you?
- Dedicated Desk Membership – $325/month – 24/7 access, personal desk, storage, mailbox
- Community Membership – $145/month – Mon-Fri access 6am-10pm, open table seating
- Mailbox Membership – $60/month – Mailing address with virtual and physical access to mail
- Event Space Rental – $125/hour
- Conference Room Rental – $45/hour
- Address: 3432 W Diversey Ave
- Website: www.secondshiftchicago.com
- Phone: 773-698-6142
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/secondshiftchi
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/secondshiftchi
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/secondshiftchi/