Featured Alumni Business: Idea Space
What is your name and the name of your business?
My name is Lauren VanElslander Mearn ’06 and the name of my business is Idea Space. Visit us at http://ideaspaceboston.com.
What’s the mission or description of your business?
Idea Space is a boutique office space in Boston’s Back Bay that provides entrepreneurs and small businesses with beautiful, shared workspace. We like to think of ourselves not just as an office, but as a community of like-minded people that celebrates creative thinking and collaborative growth. In other words: when you’re successful, we’re all happy about it. Idea Space offers a full range of flexible workspace solutions, including private offices, flexible desks, dedicated desks, conference rooms, informal lounge areas, day passes and virtual office options.
Where is your business located?
We are located at 867 Boylston Street in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay. We’re situated across the street from the Prudential Center and among the city’s best shops and restaurants.
What inspired your business?
I had the opportunity to be part of one of the student-run businesses awarded rent-free office space and resources as part of the Babson College Business Hatchery Program in the Spring of 2006, which was my first exposure to the idea of providing shared workspace/resources to support and empower entrepreneurs and small businesses.
How did the idea begin?
I spent close to 10 years in marketing and advertising on both the client and agency sides, where I witnessed first-hand how many freelance colleagues and clients were in need of an office presence in Boston, or just a professional space to work or meet for the day. As a Babson Undergrad and BC MBA Alumn, there are a number of entrepreneurs in my immediate network, many of whom have attempted to work from home at some point to avoid the high overhead associated with traditional office space. Understanding how critical community is to the success of small business owners, I was able to identify a gap in what existing coworking spaces and local coffee shops offered. The demand was there, and I knew I could create a space that would exceed the expectations of those looking for professional, yet relaxed office space with a built-in opportunity to work alongside like-minded people — right in the heart of the city.
What is your favorite thing about the business?
My favorite thing about Idea Space is the fact that it has given me the opportunity to meet with so many inspiring, talented and fun people. Our membership community is made up of entrepreneurs and small businesses — people taking risks every day to go after their dreams. Idea Space gives me the chance to be surrounded by these individuals, their energy and their ideas every day, which is something I’m really grateful for.
And the worst/your least favorite?
In order to get to this point I’ve had to ask for a lot of help along the way, which is not always something I’m great at. I’m working at it, but it’s not my favorite part.
What is your most recent business accomplishment?
Opening the doors! After gutting the space and completing the buildout, I opened the doors to Idea Space on Boylston Street this past January.
What’s been your biggest surprise with the business?
All of the positive feedback and support from family, friends and the Idea Space community. As a small business owner, there are plenty of days when you question yourself. Having so much support from those around me keeps me going. I’ve had a lot of luck on my side and I’ve asked for a lot of help to get to this point, and I’m thrilled with the initial success Idea Space has experienced so far.
Is this your first business?
No, my first business was Piece by Piece Movers (formerly University Storage) which I started with my now husband, Chris Mearn, while we were both undergrads at Babson. It was the business that landed us a spot in the Hatchery Program! While I’m no longer involved in the company, Chris and his business partner have grown Piece by Piece into a successful commercial and residential moving and storage business that he still runs today.