Alt Space

Brian and Bonnie Watson are the cofounders of Alt Space, a coworking space scheduled to open in early January that will be located above Clark’s Market at 700 W. Colorado Ave. (Courtesy photo)

Rejoice entrepreneurs, freelancers and others in need of a suitable place to work: A new coworking space is about to open in Telluride.

The brainchild of Brian and Bonnie Watson, Alt Space, which opens its doors in early January, will be located above Clark’s Market at 700 W. Colorado Ave.

The recently renovated space is light and airy with high ceilings and large windows and includes 2,700 square feet of open-plan workspace, small and large offices, phone booths and conference rooms.

“It’s in turnkey condition,” Bonnie Watson noted, adding that the pair also worked closely with the San Miguel County Department of Public Health to ensure that Alt Space complies with COVID-19-related measures, including physical distancing and mask wearing.

“We are very conscious of wanting people to feel safe and comfortable,” she said.

Alt Space also has some nice bells and whistles. In addition to the usual office accoutrements like desks, photocopiers, printers and unlimited coffee, there will be 24/7 access to the space and a not-too-shabby 1.5 gigabytes of internet.

The new coworking space also has a unique perk: access to Proximity Network.

Codeveloped by Brian Watson, Proximity is a software platform that helps independent coworking spaces manage things like billing, reservations, door access, events and guest visits.

The nearly 400 coworking spaces nationwide that now use the platform, including Alt Space, also form part of a virtual community of entrepreneurs.

For Alt Space members, that means the ability to avail of workspace in other Proximity locations, to manage their workspace using the Proximity app and to access relevant programming and events, interaction with likeminded entrepreneurs, a mentoring network and more.

“We’ll have that software powering the space and so with that software you can visit any other space that uses it,” Bonnie noted. “It makes it very accessible for people and they will be part of that community, branding and platform.”

Launching a coworking space in Telluride — in particular after Telluride Works closed in March — seems a good fit for both Watsons, each of whom has extensive experience in the areas of entrepreneurship and how collaborative spaces can nurture and support entrepreneurs.

“It was a no-brainer for us,” Brian said.

A Grand Junction native, Brian Watson cofounded Launch West CO, an initiative that sought to build a supportive community of entrepreneurial-minded people, in 2017.

“We did a lot of events over two years and found over 1,500 entrepreneurs that no one knew existed,” he said. “They were just working in their basements and we brought them together.”

From this, Brian said he realized that there was a “significant impact that can be had when you bring people together and have a centralized location that people can work out of.”

This led to the founding of Factory, the popular Grand Junction coworking space, followed by a merger with friends who ran a similar facility in Montrose, a collaboration that in turn resulted in the development of the Proximity software.

Bonnie Watson heads up the Telluride Foundation’s Telluride Venture and Telluride Regional Loan funds, both of which seek to encourage entrepreneurship in the area, including by helping locals secure financing for their bright business ideas.

As the seriousness of the pandemic was becoming apparent late last winter, though, her role shifted.

“When Covid broke out, the foundation really jumped in to help the small business community,” Bonnie explained. “I started working heavily with small businesses and mentoring them, whether that was to find grant money or loan money or helping them pivot their business model — anything to help them survive. We did a lot that was outside of the typical work of the foundation, and that is because we don’t have that sort of small-business support entity here.”

She continued, “It just showed that that support is really needed, and coworking spaces are great places to build a supportive community.”

Is there still a need for coworking space during a pandemic?

“Absolutely,” Bonnie said.

Added Brian, “We’ve seen, especially in ski towns, that there has been a huge demand to get out of the big city and get into a smaller community, but you still need a good place to be able to work, upload big files, have good internet. But also, just for your sanity, to get out of the house and compartmentalize your work life. We are seeing a big demand right now, and we expect to see much more demand in the next 12-24 months.

“We have friends who are working out of their garage right now or from a home office and their kids are running around them while they are working.”

If that sounds all too familiar, Alt Works has a range of options to get us out of our garages and into a quieter, more productive space.

A flexible membership costs $149 per month and a dedicated desk is $350 per month — both can be reserved on a month-by-month basis.

Longer-term commitments include a small, furnished office for $1,200 per month and a larger office suitable for a team, which is priced at $1,500 per month.

Due to COVID-19 capacity restrictions, the Watsons explained, membership sales will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis. After that, all members will be put on a waitlist and given access as soon as capacity restrictions are lifted.

In the meantime, Bonnie said that she and Brian are looking forward to Alt Space’s early January launch.

“We want to foster a community here — both for small businesses and entrepreneurs — and coworking spaces are the perfect places to do that.”

For more on Alt Space, including booking a tour, visit altspacecowork.com or contact altspacetelluride@gmail.com.