Chicago’s River North Welcomes the Industrious “Hive”

By August 20, 2013

Photo courtesy of Industrious


There’s a new office space coming to River North. Co-working spaces and incubators have embedded the area — and now there is also a “hive.”

The 17,000 square-foot space opening next week is named Industrious, and is meant to be a hive buzzing with entrepreneurial energy that sparks from not just the design of the space, but also the diversity, said co-founder Justin Stewart.

“I’ve been in real estate for a long time,” said Stewart. “Real estate was interesting, but lacks the creativity that I really wanted to do with different real estate projects.”

It’s not just a space for tech startups. While Industrious has room for co-working, it also has individual offices for companies to nurture and grow. The Industrious team reviews applications for the space, allowing in certain types of companies to keep the community “vibrant,” Stewart said.

“From my standpoint of real estate – I don’t want to work around real estate all day long,” Stewart said. “I learn from hearing other people’s businesses.”

“When you’re alone in a solo or small firm… You kind of get stuck by yourself,” said Jonathan Pasky, a Chicago intellectual property lawyer moving into the space. He said being near many other types of companies fosters growth and innovation, fostering “a community of companies.”

“Everyone is out for the same thing — to improve their businesses and grow,” Stewart said, adding that this correlates to any industry. “Everyone kind of has the same type of tools and different streams of getting there.”

Pasky said he has worked in co-working spaces before, but is looking forward to being able to balance co-working and individual workspace. This space is perfect for companies that have outgrown the incubator space, but still not ready to commit to a long-term lease, he said. It helps that the space brings in events, coffee and basic services a young company would need to run.

But Pasky also said the space exposes entrepreneurs to support services companies to grow more easily. Many entrepreneurs first think about the product, and don’t give enough attention to the lawyers and accountants they would need.

“You are first an entrepreneur and you kind of forget about the services side of things,” Pasky said. “Serial entrepreneurs, at the beginning of the second or third business, that’s what they set up first.” Pasky himself is an entrepreneur, as a founder of Techweek and Data 2.0.

WedSocial is one of these young companies moving into the space. The team launched earlier this year. WedSocial CEO Jake Molzahn said he was looking for a tech-friendly space to grow the company, but recognized his company expanded beyond tech.

“We’re also based in the wedding industry so we figured we could learn more from companies outside of just the tech space,” he said.

While Industrious is opening soon in Chicago, Stewart said he has his sights on expansion. He hopes to bring the Industrious support to other cities and is already looking into Washington, Austin and Buckhead, Georgia.

“This works in any major city, there are entrepreneurs everywhere,” Stewart said. He said he has gotten e-mails from people in Boston and Cleveland wanting the same type of space.

And Pasky said the space might look different depending on the type of startup community. “Depending on the space, I think the idea will work in a lot of spaces. If it’s in San Francisco it might be more tech focused,” he said.

“In Chicago, the beauty of it is that there’s no dominant industry,” Pasky said. “You take one industry away, and pretty much the entrepreneurship stays.”

He said the resources of big companies in the area such as Sears, Sarah Lee and Kraft are things that entrepreneurs should take advantage of. The diversity of entrepreneurs in the area help the city draw in certain types of talent, and the diversity of the space might reflect what’s in the area.”

It might be worth looking into what Industrious looks like a year from now and what types of entrepreneurs the space draws in.

For now, Industrious aims to help make Chicago’s unique entrepreneurs come together under one roof, and it further codifies River North as an entrepreneurial center.