By Gina Martinez
Forest Hills now has its first coworking space.
Software engineer Benny Tan came up with the idea to start The Austin Space, on the second floor of 108-14 72nd Ave., when he couldn’t find a calm place to do his own work.
Coworking spaces are shared offices where freelancers and independent business owners can work on their own schedules and easily collaborate with others. The space offers amenities including desks, couches, a kitchen, Wi-Fi, and a conference room for team meetings.
“We have an open-space area where members come in and out, 24/7,” Tan said. “Once they’re in, they can utilize our space to work. We offer a kitchen space, lounge, Wi-Fi, plugs, conference room … they’re all-inclusive with a membership.”
The coworking space is also a technology academy where members can learn important tech skills as well as network.
“The second thing that comes with a membership is access to exclusive events and the academy,” Tan said. “We hold networking events, where businesses get the opportunity to get new clients to grow their business. We also offer tech academy to help build their skills. We’re really a coworking space, so we mainly focus on self-development and professional development. The tech academy is a way to offer tech classes for students of virtually any age, and teach them iPhone development, web development and more.”
Tan said he chose the Forest Hills location because of it’s underserved with easy access to transportation.
“We picked Forest Hills because we saw that it was Central Queens,” Tan said. “The nearest space to work is far out in Bayside, or closer to the city in Astoria or Long Island City, but nothing in Central Queens. This is a place where people can come and find a quiet space to work. That’s why we chose it, we realized people are just working out of Starbucks, but here there’s always guaranteed Wi-Fi and plugs, so it saves worrying.
“A lot of members told us that they would go to a coffee shop and they couldn’t find a seat and they would have to go back home. I hear a lot of stories about Starbucks being too crowded and too noisy.”
For anyone interested in a membership, Tan offers one-on-one tours. Memberships start at $25 a month.
“I always wanted to start something like this,” Tan said, “to be able to build a community where we can help each other out. I saw an opportunity and it was a no-brainer.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart