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April 29, 2019 Newsmakers

W. Hartford’s Teich expands small biz, coworking reach

Annisa Teich

Annisa Teich traces her support for small business owners to her family's trials and tribulations falling victim to a “Madoff-like character.”

“I wanted to pivot my career and experience thus far toward helping small businesses make better decisions for their business,” said Teich, who in 2017 founded The Small Business Collective in Hartford, which links entrepreneurs to resources like marketing and business-development experts.

In her latest venture, Teich and her mother, Annette Farese, established Bromleigh Ventures LLC, and bought West Hartford Coworking, or WeHa Works. The space, which hosts 25 tenants who pay between $199 and $349 per month, is currently 95 percent full, she said.

While some industry leaders say interest in coworking spaces may dwindle as the market becomes saturated, Teich doesn't think it will be an issue in Greater Hartford.

Who is best suited for coworking spaces?

Because coworking is so much more than just a place to prop your laptop, we believe there is a fit for everyone. But the most obvious fits are remote workers or independents who don't have the luxury of a home office. Second are independents who are looking for a place and space to meet with clients, use the address and accept mail as a means of legitimizing their early stage ventures.

Yet, our part-time membership is quickly becoming our most popular option as large corporations extend more flexible working arrangements that may allow employees to work from home or during flexible hours.

Is there anything about the Hartford/West Hartford area that makes it especially conducive to coworking spaces?

Suburban workers want to remain close to home. While workers and consumers in major markets are used to traveling long distances for what they want or need (growing up in northern New Jersey and getting my career started in Manhattan, I know the struggle), suburban workers and consumers want a shorter commute to and from work and their local amenities.

Coworking facilities are no exception. However 'cool' a coworking facility may be, the likelihood of anyone traveling more than 30 minutes to join a space is rare. And so there is a need for smaller, more localized spaces to meet the demand.

What unique challenges do small businesses in Hartford face?

Right now there is a lot of attention on technology and specifically insurtech. While that is the cool, sexy, and newsworthy trend that is bringing a lot of attention and funding to Hartford, it's harder for smaller and non-technical businesses to stand out in that space. There is such an amazing ecosystem of artists, makers, unique services, family businesses, etc., and they all deserve visibility.

How does Hartford compare to other East Coast cities in terms of opportunities for entrepreneurs?

When it comes to small businesses or entrepreneurial endeavors, I'm not a fan of saying there is a lack of opportunity in any given area over another. The very spirit of entrepreneurship is making it work and I see and feel a lot of that in Greater Hartford.

Sure, there is opportunity in New York, but you're a little fish in a very big pond. In Central Connecticut, if you get out there enough, you can quickly find a network of your people ... and find a much stronger network of relationships.

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