The Coworker is a new weekly series by MTLinTECH that spotlights one Montreal coworking space every Tuesday.
Here’s what we learned from Xenospace founder Phil Balabanos (or “XenoPhil”) during our chat: he’s an agreeable guy who has a magnificent space. However, he’s competing with tons of other spaces in gentrified neighbourhoods like Mile-End and Mile-Ex.
Xenospace is a brand new coworking space designed for digital content creators. It’s located in the northern end of Parc Extension, at 760 Boulevard Crémazie O. His space literally looks onto a highway. The 40, to be exact.
Despite the highway, it’s not that bad. The acoustics create a peaceful ambiance within the space, where outside noise can’t be heard. The large windows that look out onto the cars wizzing past the Guzzo Cinemas have a strangely relaxing effect.
Balabanos, a sociable filmmaker from Cote-des-Neiges, is the kind of person that you want to be friends with right away. One feels an inherent trustworthiness. His website also offers a comforting sentence for people looking for a serious coworking space: “we respect your need for quiet time, client confidentiality & caffeinated beverages.”
He almost reluctantly fell into the space. Pregnant with their soon-to-be first-born, Balabanos’ wife “kicked him out” of his own office. He went looking for a good space but couldn’t find a place that did the trick. A family friend that has long supported his interests owned the building that Xenospace is now in, and told Balabanos that the previous tenants had recently moved out.
Two spacious floors of nice office space were sitting empty. Balabanos told his relative it was way too big for just him.
“He said ‘screw it, let’s do it. We can do it, go find a few friends to cover the rent.’ He told me on a Wednesday and by Thursday afternoon I had built the Xenospace model,” Balabanos told MTLinTECH. By the following Monday, Xenospace was incorporated.
“It all happened very fast. I needed to get out of the house,” he said.
A large open space can house dedicated desk workers and there are around four to five private offices available for teams. An Apple TV-equipped conference room doubles as a photography or film studio. And yes, it does have one of those traditional director’s chairs as well.
Balabanos calls Xenospace “the Hyundai Accent of coworking spaces,” likely because it’s not located in a hip, pretentious neighbourhood, yet offers a fine space where professionals can get work done at a very competitive price.
He tried out some of the more “cool” spaces around town, but ultimately couldn’t deal with the noise or the sheer amount of people being grouped together.
“I think they suffer from what makes them cool. High ceilings are awesome, but they create so much noise.”
Balabanos wants to be selective with who he chooses as members, as he builds up Xenospace’s core clientele. He’s primarily looking for creatives initially.
A “floater desk” in the main space with a locked filing cabinet costs $225 per month, while private offices go for $525 per month or $900 for three to five people. For an extra fee Balabanos will furnish an office, but he prefers not to “because I don’t want to run to Ikea all the time.”
The floater desks run on month-to-month contracts and are available Monday to Saturday, 9:00 to 7:00, but members can have 24/7 access if they sign a 12-month lease. The private offices come with standard leases.
“For my partner it was a worthwhile investment because the past two tenants were telemarketers and I don’t think they wanted that again,” Balabanos told us. “Theres another massive space above and I don’t know what to do with it yet.”
In Balabanos’ mind, he’ll get to offer a very nice coworking space to people who are either getting priced out of Mile-End and Mile-Ex.
“I’ve been working here for two months and I love it. It helps that it’s mine, obviously, but there’s no other place for this price. Everything started in the Plateau, then it moved into the Mile-End and the Mile-End exploded. Now they’re moving up into Jean Talon near Little Italy in Villeray. When people finally make it all the way up here, Xenospace will be ready.”
Have you read the rest of The Coworker series?