The Coworker: Esplanade creates a familial atmosphere

EsplanadeThe Coworker is a new weekly series by MTLinTECH that spotlights one Montreal coworking space every Tuesday.

It’s been one year since the Esplanade coworking space opened its doors. Since then the Pleateau-based gathering has built up a nice clientele with a familial emphasis.

Vincent Gourlaouen, the space’s operations and programming manager, was on hand to give us a tour of the one-floor area just south of Parc metro station. Esplanade calls itself the first collaborative space created for social innovation and entrepreneurship in Quebec.

“Our little ambition is to change the world,” said Gourlaouen, who first came to Canada 10 years ago from France. He worked as a financial analyst for EY before starting his own business that created furniture and other useful things from wasted materials. The company sold about 250 arching bike racks to the Pleateau neighbourhood, which just placed another order.

After that, Gourlaouen worked for Provender, which was a farm-to-fork food tech startup. Two other former Provender employees also work out of Esplanade.

Esplanade offers dedicated desks throughout the large, expansive space and doesn’t have any private offices. Like many coworking spaces similar, it does offer several private meeting areas.

A full-time desk for five days a week costs $350 per month, a part-time desk for three days a week is $200 per month and a flexible plan of 20 days in a year goes for $380. All of those prices come with taxes.

Sadly, coffee is not included in those prices, though the space is quite beautiful with a touch of modern art built from re-used materials.


EsplanadeEsplanadeThe project was first proposed in 2012 after a local non-profit dedicated to citizen participation in the Plateau neighbourhood, L’Institut du Nouveau Monde had advocated for a program to help entrepreneurs. Esplanade started out as a project within À go, on change le monde!, a program that helps anyone with an idea within social entrepreneurship.

“We needed a network, a place dedicated to what we were doing and a place to meet other entrepreneurs and investors interested,” said Gourlaouen. “Otherwise it would all be isolated projects with two people in an apartment, and you can’t accelerate the growth of your project if you stay in your nest.”

Esplanade was born out of these concerns.

It’s a space completely dedicated to social entrepreneurs, whether they’re for-profit or non-profit. Those who wish to rent a desk at Esplanade need to show the impact of their project rather than any legal definition of their company.

It’s also emphasized that a member joining Esplanade will share their talent and ideas with others. They even have regular “family lunches” at the space’s large dining table to encourage friendliness and collaboration.

“This is a place to help people meet others, grow their business, finance their business and experience and share skills,” said Gourlaouen.

This fall, Esplanade is even planning to launch its own incubator program for social entrepreneurs.




Vincent Gourlaouen

And the best part about working at Esplanade, according to the manager? The connections one makes and the spirit of the space.

“It’s so easy to know whats going on in Montreal because you’re connected. We have a very interesting mix of entrepreneurs here,” he told MTLinTECH.

Julie Villain has worked at Esplanade since it first opened its doors. She’s the communications coordinator of Place to B Canada, a participatory newsroom. The entrepreneur was attracted to working our of Esplanade because of the way the space looked and how it represented a long-term project focused on building a strong community.

I knew I would meet the right people to work, connect and network with,” Villain said. “I was looking for that community aspect. I’ve been here since it opened a year ago and I’ve never been disappointed. It just only got bigger since I arrived and the community only got closer.”

“You have an opportunity to connect with people on a daily basis,” said Villain. “It’s an easy, informal, very friendly space with everyone helping each other. People work together a lot here, which is really admirable.”

Have you read the rest of The Coworker series?

Le 402 is small but the price is nice – July 26

A fresh slate for Le Tableau Blanc’s enviable space – July 19

Fabrik8 founder went through a world of experience – July 12

Xenospace competes with the cool neighbourhoods – July 5

LORI Hub the first space for women entrepreneurs – June 28

Could Crew’s Café be the blueprint for expansion? – June 21

Mile Ex’s peaceful 6cent1 is a one of a kind – June 14

Gameplay Space has gaming startups feeling like pros – June 7

Halte 24-7 puts design at the forefront – May 31

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