Check out Alley powered by Verizon – a fresh approach to unused space.
CAMBRIDGE Pre-Launch Event – June
Because of network technology advancements, the space requirements to house and manage Verizon’s network equipment has shrunk significantly. This technological shift left Verizon with large pockets of unused space throughout its legacy owned asset. In response to these changes, the Verizon Global Real Estate team is now pursuing a strategy to repurpose these underutilized spaces to create coworking communities globally. Since launching the coworking initiative in the Fall of 2015, Verizon has opened coworking sites in London, New York, Cambridge and Washington DC. To develop their overall coworking strategy over the past two years, Verizon engaged PLASTARC, a workplace-focused design strategy firm that advises organizations about opportunities to use space design, technology, and people policies as tool to meet organizational objectives.
June 27th was the opening night of Alley powered by Verizon Cambridge. Formerly a facility that stored telecommunications and network equipment a couple of blocks from Harvard campus, the space is now an airy and well-lit space for entrepreneurs, developers, thought leaders and more. The 10,000 SF space was designed by Gensler with styling and graphics by Composite, Co. Additionally, a local artist Pat Falco designed the murals and graphics. Whereas the facility used to connect people through copper wire networks, this new space represents how Verizon is now connecting people through community programming and thoughtful spatial design. The opening night event on June 27th culminated in a pitch night that featured five startups competing for membership spots and access to a Verizon Innovation Hub in Cambridge. These competitors were:
- Strongarm, a simple and affordable malware protection service,
- Let’s All Do Good, an engagement platform for mission-driven organizations
- Bitome, a wearable device that monitors hydration levels
- Solstice, a provider of community-based solar energy
- SkilRoute, an online first-person point-of-view video learning platform
Founders from these five start-ups presented to an audience of over 60 people, and a panel that included Andrew Rollins, a Partner at Sigma Prime Venture, Tim Gorman, Associate Director of Technology at the Verizon Innovation Program and Reid Christian, Early Stage Enterprise Investor at Charles River Ventures. After the presentations and some post-pitch drinks, the judges announced the pitch night winner: SkilRoute. Their online learning platform differentiates itself from other competitors in the eLearning space by giving users the autonomy to engage in lessons from multiple point-of-views. In other words, you are instilled with the freedom to decide how you learn best.
WASHINGTON DC Pre-Launch Event – July
Following the successful soft launch of Alley powered by Verizon Cambridge, we attended a pre-launch event of another new coworking space in Washington, DC. For this new location Verizon has also partnered with Alley, a membership only community workspace to manage this facility. Located in the heart of the CBD the former data center space is designed to build a community of like-minded entrepreneurs and startups in a very cool technology empowered space. In the spirit of fostering a locale centric community, the event featured a panel discussion about “The Future of Smart Cities” with panelists Beth Cooley, Director of State Legislative Affairs at CTIA, (the organization representing the wireless industry), Mark Walsh, Former Head of Investment and Innovation for the Small Business Administration, Kevin Curtis, IoT Specialist, and Solutions Architect at Verizon and Marie Whittaker, Economic Intelligence Lead at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
Prior to the presentation, the crowd of local government, tech sector and Verizon employees had the opportunity to mix, mingle and explore the 14,000 SF space was designed by Gensler with styling and graphics by Composite, Co. and local artists Rose Jaffe and Kathryn Zaremba.
Aimara Rodriguez, Programming & Partnerships Director at Alley and Tony Lewis, Vice President State and Government Affairs, Verizon, welcomed the robust crowd by briefly outlining some of the philosophy behind Verizon’s vision to use space to collaborate with and bring people together with technology to pursue their passion and business goals in the same place. The discussion also centered around how businesses, the city and technology can work together to open the doors to small businesses. The conversation then segued into the Smart City initiatives that can be a catalyst for driving the innovation of products and services that can improve connectivity across the city, provide sustainable and cost-effective solutions to manage and track city services and build new businesses across all sectors of the community.