Entrepreneurs and tech geeks have a new brand of co-working space that feels more like a Moose Lodge than an office space. You're more likely to walk past an arcade than a water cooler.

Think of the way you use coffee shop table space, but replace baristas and latte sippers with like-minded professionals and industry savvy entrepreneurs.

Located in the South Broad Ripple area of Indianapolis, Speak Easy is a clubhouse primarily focused on serving entrepreneurs and start-ups rather than catering to freelancers and work-at-home employees like many other co-working spaces. It's striving to become a place that the Indianapolis start-up scene can call home. It is not an accelerator, an incubator, or a place that funded start-ups can use to avoid paying rent. Instead, it's a place where “Indianapolis-based entrepreneurs, start-ups, and the folks who support them to work, play, and collaborate.”

Speak Easy has placed a stake in the ground as the first club solely dedicated to the support of local area start-ups. It claims to be a cross between a 17th century salon, coffee shop, and science lab than an office environment. The yearly membership fee is much less than your typical co-working space since you won't get your own dedicated workspace.

However, the lack of a dedicated workspace only adds to opportunities for innovative thinking–which is gold for any start-up entrepreneur. Without a nailed-down working location, a more flexible ‘liquid’ network is created, thus allowing for the open-ended collisions between ideas that can't travel through rigid office walls. In the book How Buildings Learn, Stewart Brand discovered that the magic of highly innovative workspaces comes in the balance between order and chaos. Speak Easy combines the order of a common area office infrastructure and private meeting spaces and conference rooms with the chaos of a gaming center, library, and even a bar with free coffee-and free beer.

Additionally, most start-up founders typically don't have the opportunity to interact with talented individuals who possess skills in a different field. A club like Speak Easy can facilitate these interactions and stimulate innovation through outside-the-box thinking. The community is like an ocean reef, combining specialists and competitive individuals in a dense area that serves as a platform for innovation and survival. Just as a reef can exist thousands of miles inside a barren ocean, a diverse and innovative space like Speak Easy can exist within a widely distributed population like Indianapolis.

Starting a company is a transition into an unpredictable life. And the inevitable entrepreneurial emotional rollercoaster can easily throw you off track. Having a workspace to call home and a place to interact with other professionals going through the same process can provide much needed stability and confidence in the early days of any start-up. A club like Speak Easy can provide a platform that allows start-ups to:

  •     pull from and contribute to a wide variety of expertise
  •     be part of a community
  •     increase connections in the business community
  •     make developments faster
  •     evolve faster
  •     enhance survivability

When we started Slingshot SEO we were confined to the back of a warehouse with no windows. I believe that being a part of Speak Easy would have made our start much more interesting and may have provided value through interactions that we did not have in those early days. It will be interesting to see the first generation of start-up successes emerge from supportive clubs like Speak Easy.