Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Segal's Cove

"Drop-in workspace Cove, founded in D.C., is coming to Boston" by Scott Kirsner

Starbucks founder Howard Schultz popularized the notion of the “third place” — a hang-out in between home and work, or home and school. Now, Washington, D.C. entrepreneur Adam Segal is creating what you might think of as a “fourth place.” His company, Cove, is creating a chain of drop-in “productivity spaces” that are more oriented toward getting work done than the local coffee shop, but also not intended for five days a week of toil.

Segal told me last week that he is hunting for locations in Boston and Cambridge, with plans to open the first of what could be several locations in late spring or early summer. Founded in 2013, Cove already has eight sites around D.C. and Northern Virginia, with a ninth opening soon.

Segal says that Cove memberships start at $32 for eight hours of access per month, which he notes is “not much more expensive than drinking lattés in a café.” When you enter, you scan a barcode on your mobile phone’s screen, so Cove’s systems can keep track of how much time you’ve used.

The average size of a Cove is 1750 square feet, and they include a mix of counter seating, upholstered chairs and sofas, conference rooms, and private telephone booths. Membership includes free wifi, coffee, soda, and use of printers and scanners. The only thing not included in membership? Conference room usage, which costs an extra $10-$25 per hour, depending on the size of the room.

Segal says that Cove markets itself as “an ‘and’ solution. It’s something you can use in addition to your office, your living room, or a coffee shop. The intent is that you walk out of your house, go to your favorite coffee shop, and then go to your neighborhood Cove to be productive, and be around people doing similar things.”

Segal, a native of Wellesley, says is still considering several possible locations in Boston and Cambridge, but hasn’t yet signed a lease. “We’re planning to have two or three locations to start,” he says. Segal plans to hire about six people in Boston — three for the operations team, and three technology developers. Jeremy Scott, a technology advisor to Cove, is a graduate student at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab.

Segal says that one of Cove’s early investors was Peter Aldrich, also an early backer of ZipCar and the private bus service Bridj. The company also raised, but didn’t announce, a larger Series A funding round, he says. A 2014 SEC filing says that Cove was trying to raise $1.5 million.


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