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Meet John Arenas of Serendipity Labs Coworking in The Loop

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Arenas.

John, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
In 1996, I founded Stratis Business Centers in Westchester County, NY. It was acquired by Regus, the international office suites company, in 2001 and I became the President and GM of Regus Americas. While in that position, I led them through a restructuring and to an 11x share price increase. Next I launched Worktopia, the first global reservation system for real-time booking of meeting rooms and group hotel room-blocks that was used by American Express, Travelocity and several international hotel chains.

My vision for Serendipity Labs is to design inviting, inspiring workplaces in urban and suburban locations in the U.S. and abroad. Each is imbued with vitality from a mix of members, events and programming – allowing for serendipitous interactions and helping members reach their fullest potential, both professionally and personally. The Serendipity Labs Chicago Loop opened in October 2014.

I have an MBA from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and a BS in Civil Engineering from Rutgers University.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There was not much awareness about coworking when we first opened Serendipity Labs in 2011, so we had to explain this new way to work. Now coworking is everywhere. Chicago is a good example of the explosion in number of coworking and shared office space providers; our challenge is to differentiate ourselves. We are in the hospitality business, not the office rental business. We are not just about location, although being in the right locations is paramount, which why any member of Serendipity Labs has access to every other Serendipity Labs for business meetings or when traveling. Our mission is to deliver an upscale, hospitality-based workplace experience that can serve as an extension for businesses and a home base for established, independent professionals.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Serendipity Labs Coworking – what should we know?
Serendipity Labs, delivers coworking as an upscale hospitality brand that addresses the needs of mobile professionals, independent workers and project teams. We offer workplace memberships that include day passes, part-time and full-time coworking, dedicated private offices or team rooms for up to 20. Each location can also host business and community events. Corporate membership, with central billing and reporting is available. Our proprietary cloud-based IT platform is enterprise class and meets Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA standards. Serendipity Labs is growing through owned, managed and franchised locations in office buildings, high-rise residential projects, hotels and retail properties, with over 100 locations currently under development.

Each Serendipity Labs workplace is staffed by members from the local community, not a rotating team that comes from corporate. We have a small business feel, with the support of a larger network. As with each location, the Chicago Serendipity Labs is also an art gallery for local artists, an exhibit from NYCH gallery begins in June. They serve donuts every Friday from local businesses like Stan’s, Sweet Donuts and Donut Vault. Coffee from Abacus Coffee is all they serve. At Serendipity Labs, we become part of the fabric of our communities.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I have passion for hospitality and exceptional service and surround myself with partners and staff who share it. The Chicago Lab is an excellent example. Our staff there is outstanding. Andreas Brandl, the General Manager, and his community experience managers all believe in our brand and understand the competitive differentiator is how well we take care of our members. That’s why we are growing deliberately, not just for the sake of growth. We do no compromise on our commitment. Chicago is a large market with lots of workplace options. Our commitment to consistently delivering a first class is what makes us different.


  • Coworking starts at $49/month

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Serendipity Labs, Mark Mahar, Winter Park Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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