By Louis Cooper, Special to Innovation Coast
Pensacola is getting an innovative space where new tech companies and other startups can access “crazy fast” Internet, play pingpong and pick the brains of their peers.
Pensacola Socialdesk, a 10,500 square-foot building on L Street, is aimed at tech companies, firms with financial or legal expertise, and others. It was founded by Pensacola entrepreneur Peter Nowak.
Socialdesk is a local example of a modern office space phenomenon called “coworking,” which gathers the staffs of several small firms into a common area where ideas are exchanged and innovation is nurtured.
“I read a lot about coworking spaces in other forward-thinking, Pensacola-sized cities – who they’re attracting and how they’re growing. Places like Naples; Asheville, North Carolina; Silver Spring, Maryland; and Los Gatos, California,” Nowak said. “Pensacola seems ready,” he said. “So when the L street property came available, it clicked. It’s a convenient mid-town location, and the right size building.”
More information about Socialdesk is available at www.pensacolasocialdesk.com.
David Musselwhite is the community manager for Socialdesk. “It is anticipated that Socialdesk will foster the growth of the organizations located there by supporting better collaboration and providing the tools, support and training they need,” Musselwhite said. “One of our taglines is, ‘Where cowork meets teamwork.’”
Socialdesk’s marketing material bills the facility as a place for businesses that “desire to effect positive social change in this area through collaboration and innovation.”
“Socialdesk is first and foremost a diverse community of social entrepreneurs, creatives and other professionals on a mission to help the greater Pensacola area solve problems and increase prosperity,” according to a Socialdesk pamphlet. “Our members choose to work together to make not only their own work and lives better, but most of all, our city and community.”
The facility conjures images of what some people might think Google or Facebook headquarters look like. The center of the first floor of Socialdesk is an open space of tables and chairs. There are conference rooms and offices around the periphery. There are two “collaboration” areas with sofas and chairs. There’s also a coffee bar and a pingpong table, as well as plans for an outdoor basketball court. Outside, there is also a covered patio and a bike rack. Socialdesk promises “crazy fast, state-of-the-art Wi-Fi Internet,” along with copiers, printers and other typical office equipment.
Donovan Chau, executive director of Innovation Coast, praised the Socialdesk project.
Innovation Coast is an alliance of companies and institutions of higher learning in Northwest Florida that works to promote and grow technology and knowledge-based companies in the region.
“Leaders of startup tech companies need like-minded individuals with whom to interact,” Chau said. “Tech entrepreneurs benefit from informal conversations that may spontaneously occur at cowork spaces like Socialdesk.
“The opportunity for community-based innovation is what makes Socialdesk superior to regular office spaces,” according to Chau. “Walls are removed, literally and figuratively. Successful tech companies share this quality of cowork spaces, themselves.”
Renovations are ongoing at the two-story facility, located at 3695 N. L St. The entire first floor will be dedicated to Pensacola Socialdesk. The second floor will be divided between Socialdesk and Nowak’s two companies, Avisod and Nowak Enterprises. Avisod is a tech company that offers beacon-based mobile device marketing. Nowak Enterprises is a local McDonald’s franchisee.
Musselwhite hopes to have tenants at Socialdesk by this summer.
“We are looking for a wide range of organizations, creatives and professionals to locate at Socialdesk,” Musselwhite said. “We are starting to ramp up a marketing effort now. We have received a very positive response from individuals that have toured the facility.” Introductory membership fees for Socialdesk range from $45 to $450 per month, depending on the needs of the business.