It was all just a matter of time, but 100State, the biggest co-working community in Wisconsin, has outgrown their space on the Capitol Square and getting set to make a big move.
“We’re all pretty excited about it. We should be there in 60 days … so the first business day of January — January 2″, says 100State Executive Director Greg St. Fort. “We are completely on schedule and we will be ready to go.”
St. Fort can’t contain his excitement as he walks around what will soon be his new digs, the 316 Building on West Washington Ave. a couple blocks east of the State Capitol building. Constructions workers are busy at work at the new space whose almost 11,000 square feet will give 100State more room to stretch and grow … much more than its current 6,500-square-foot place on the Capitol Square.
“It’s a lot bigger space plus all of the new amenities. We’ll have an art space. We will have 19 private offices now (compared to 9 right now),” St. Fort tells Madison365. “Most of those offices are bigger than the ones we have now. We wanted to find a bigger space so we can have more room for teams.”
As it is now, entrepreneurial teams sometimes squeeze into some rather small offices at the current 100State. “Yeah, it’s a little scrappy. That’s how it works at this building,” St. Fort says. “We’re looking forward to having a lot more space for people. It’s one of many reasons why we wanted to make the move.”
The construction is still in progress for the new place but St. Fort is already excited about the fancy board room at the new place.
“Yes, a 20-seater that people can access and use. I think that will help for our members to impress people,” he says. “You can be a start-up, 2-person team and you can impress people with some of these great amenities that we will have at the new building. But, in the end, we’re still this grassroots culture.”
When people think of boardroom spaces they too often immediately think that only very specific people will be using it. Older. White. Male. “Now, you can be someone from any community – black, white, Latino – using the space,” he says. “That’s the idea. Give the entire community access to a premium location and premium amenities. That’s really cool and symbolic.”
100State members include startups, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and sponsors who collaborate at brainstorming and problem-solving sessions. 100State is a pretty constant state of activity which can mean that there can be a mix-match of noise levels for the workers. (Talking to you, loud guy holding video-conference call with other loud guy from Los Angeles). However, at the new place, there will be a large quiet area and another area that St. Fort describes as “less quiet.”
“There are a lot of different types of people here and the same people can need the space in a different way at a different time. Say you have someone who is, let’s say, a writer,” St. Fort smiles. “He may be wanting to do a loud and animated interview at some point but then would like it quieter as he tries to write up the story. So he can choose the area he would like to be in.
“The flow of traffic can be really dynamic at our current space, so with the new space we are taking that into consideration and we will really be creative,” he adds.
As much as St. Fort loves the current 100State space, he could see that they were growing out of it and knew that he had to be proactive.
“We knew that there was interest in co-working in that  building and we needed a space because we just had logistical concerns with our current space and we were getting higher demand from people. There are days when there’s actually no place to sit at times,” St. Fort says.
They wanted to for sure stay in downtown Madison, so they started looking around. They needed to have some flexibility from a potential landlord as a non-profit. “Because we have a non-profit bank account,” says St. Fort, laughing. “We needed to work in a way that we could get a little bit of breathing room and some flexibility.
“I love that there are other tech companies there at the new place. It just made sense. We are sharing a floor and will be working with 5Nines. That was a big part of the deal,” St. Fort adds. 5Nines is a Madison internet service provider and technology company that will also be on the 6th floor of the new building with 100State. “They sponsor our Internet and we will work together on many things. We’ve been partners with them in the past and done events with them in the community. We’re looking forward to doing many things with them in the future.”
Another big perk of the 316 Building will be the undulating lighted mosaic stretching the entire height of the building that is currently under construction The 123-foot-tall mosaic, consisting of 517 color-changing lights, is intended to imitate the flow of water. The mural will be revealed during the New Places, New Faces Downtown networking event on Nov. 10, hosted by Hovde Properties and presented by Downtown Madison Inc.
Did the waterfall factor into the decision to move to the 316 Building? “Yeah, a little. It’s pretty cool. That and Red Sushi,” St. Fort says of the sleek eatery serving creative sushi rolls and grilled Japanese fare in modern environs at the 316 Building. “Those are cool things about the building and the more attractive the building, the more attractive our brand is. Not a knock on any other location, but there’s a big difference between having a Red Sushi in your building versus being in a building that’s just one law firm on top of another law firm.”
With all of the hype over the new building, St. Fort knows he will still miss the current spot, where he first landed in September of 2014, a couple months after arriving in Madison from New York City.
“I’m going to miss the current 100State space. We did a lot of work here. If you ever see a before and after, it is amazing,” he says. “But we really maximized that space, too. I don’t know how much more we can do. But people really love it here. It will be sad to leave.
The new 100State space and the old 100State space are both on the 6th floor. Is there are a chance that St. Fort walks into the wrong building one early morning come January?
“I might accidentally come back one morning. But I’m curious who’s going to be here next,” he says. “Whoever takes it is going to be really happy. This is definitely the best-looking floor in the building. Very cool open space.”
St. Fort says that 100State membership is doing well and he expects it to grow as they move into the new space. “Basically, it’s a reflection of the growth of the Madison ecosystem. A founder may now have a 3-person company or a 6-person company or in some cases, a 20-person company. It’s happening. And some of those people started here. We’ve had members who outgrew our space,” he says. “Then, we’re getting a lot of inbound requests from different companies and people in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We are now able to satisfy more of that demand having more offices and more space. We’re really excited about this.”
It’s important for 100State as they continue to grow that they also continue to diversify and give access to traditionally underrepresented communities.
“We need more space to bring in new people so that could be useful to the black community, the Latino community, and even more women,” St. Fort says. “That’s one of the initiatives that we have. We’re at 33 percent as far as our membership for women. We want to get that up to 40 percent. We are working with partners like UpStart, Centro Hispano, the Latino Chamber [of Commerce] to create other pipelines. In the end, we want to truly have a diverse community here. We want to take it to another level. That’s a goal for us.”
Madison365 and 100State formed a partnership in December of 2015 to support and encouraging more and deeper coverage of Madison’s entrepreneurs and small business startups.