Hudson Valley Coworking Space Opens First NYC Location
Today, despite its rural mindset, Barnfox is opening the first of several planned locations in New York City, as a reminder that workers are called back to the city at least a few days a week. Members have access to all locations, meaning they can work from second homes, short-term rentals, or hotels with more frequency while maintaining a base in Manhattan.
Its first city location is in Union Square and will open in partnership with health technology company Nirvana Health, which owns the space but has hired Barnfox to design and manage it.
Barnfox isn’t alone in making this game. Salesforce, for its part, has leased an entire hotel in California to provide meeting and retreat space for its dispersed workforce. WeWork still maintains many shared coworking spaces in the city, despite losing $844 million in the last quarter of 2021.
Even in the Hudson Valley there is competition, including a place called CO in Rhinebeck. A bigger fish is Daybase, a startup that recently raised $9.6 million to build a coworking space focused on those who have hybrid setups with their employers. Rudin Management’s investment arm, Rudin Ventures, has invested in Daybase, which has a location in Hoboken, New Jersey, and is looking to open in Westfield, New Jersey, and Harrison in Westchester County, according to the Term newsletter. Sheet of Fortune.
For Pikovsky, Barnfox’s core has nothing to do with hybrid work, actually.
The former camp counselor came up with the idea for the business in 2017. Exhausted from city life, he wanted to spend more time outdoors in nature during times when he wasn’t working. He and his co-founder, Tim Tedesco, an artist and builder, started building a cabin in the Hudson Valley. They expanded the idea to workspaces and launched Barnfox in February 2020, just before the pandemic shutdowns began.
But as the dust settled, it became clear that the city dwellers who had arrived from urban areas also needed a place to work, and very soon “we found ourselves in the best place possible,” said Pikovsky. There are now 300 members, he said, with a long waiting list for individuals and businesses. So far, Barnfox has only four full-time employees.
Akshay Venkitasubramanian, managing director of Nirvana, is one of the most remote employees in town who discovered Barnfox. He spent some time at an upstate Airbnb in 2020.
“I realized that working at an Airbnb is not ideal for a founder of a start-up company,” he said. He walked up the street and found Barnfox.
In addition to providing a space to work and collaborate, Barnfox specializes in setting up group events, such as carpentry classes and bike tours, that focus on the outdoors. This appealed to Venkitasubramanian, who wanted his business, which helps mental health providers with billing, to be a place where employees could maintain their physical and mental fitness.
Upon returning to a WeWork in New York later that year, Venkitasubramanian began working with Pikovsky on designing and managing a Union Square space that could become his official headquarters. Nirvana remains hybrid, but the location will provide an anchor for nearby employees to work from. For the 50% who are entirely remote, it will be a gathering place when they come to New York.
But the location of the city is only a foothold. Barnfox members have access to all of its locations, making it easy for a business to plan a residential gathering in a more rural location.
By the end of this year, Barnfox expects to have a handful of locations in town, some with specific partners such as Nirvana and others open to all members. Pikovsky is adding more retirement locations on the east and west coasts, likely including in the Hamptons, Montauk and Vermont ski resorts where city employees are likely to go for work vacations.