The Coworker is a new weekly series by MTLinTECH that spotlights one Montreal coworking space every Tuesday.
Arielle Beaudin and Stephane Atanga told us that one out of every three entrepreneurs in Quebec are women, a number that’s simply too low. Together they cofounded the LORI hub coworking space for women entrepreneurs, a beautiful new space on Saint-Ambroise street in St-Henri.
“When you think about male entrepreneurs you have so many examples, but there’s far less of successful women entrepreneurs, especially younger ones,” Beaudin told MTLinTECH. “We want to showcase these great initiatives brought about by women.”
To be clear, LORI (Ladies of Real Influence) Hub is not anti-men. There’s no problem with men working out of the space as long as they work with a female cofounder. It’s more important for Beaudin and Atanga to offer women entrepreneurs a professional backbone that they can use upon kickstarting their entrepreneurial venture.
It’s a nicely-designed, modern space with dedicated desks and 24/7 access starting at just $230 per month (plus taxes). Several options are available for private offices for teams, as well as with shared offices for individuals. Conferences rooms, a very cool-looking lounge area and a spotless kitchen round out the small space.
The pair knows how it feels to be a startup too, as Beaudin makes it clear that LORI Hub started out from meager beginnings. The space, while fully functioning, is still a “baby,” growing by the month.
Beaudin, 26, met Atanga, 30, at Montreal’s Startupfest a few summers ago. Atanga was taking classes at the SAGE entrepreneurship centre in Montreal at the time and saw that 16 of his 24 classmates were women. He set out to give them more exposure by reporting for his blog website devoted to covering women entrepreneurs.
“My mother is an entrepreneur and I have three sisters,” said Atanga. “One of my sisters said she didn’t feel she had role models. I realized that there were a lot of female role models in business, but most of them were at the corporate level.”
After meeting and discovering their common interest, the two cofounders created LORI.biz, an online platform that encourages women to choose entrepreneurship as a career path and supports those who want to launch a businesses.
Through networking events and online work, the pair were busying themselves. They received some free office space from a friend at the very space that’s called LORI Hub today, then a Communoloft space. When Communoloft moved out, the pair decided it was time to do something bigger.
Beaudin and Atanga had always wanted to open up their own coworking space, so they spoke with Natalie Voland, the owner of the building on Saint-Ambroise. A successful entrepreneur and a former social worker at the Montreal General Hospital, Voland took over her father’s Complexe du Canal Lachine property management giant several years ago at 23.
Voland liked the idea that the two LORI Hub cofounders pitched and Beaudin and Atanga got their space. The rent needed to be paid and they needed cash to renovate the space, so they launched a crowdfunding campaign. Despite asking for $10,000, the pair raised $14,400. With the money they completely redid the space by repainting and re-swagging the interior with nice furniture.
Soon, LORI Hub was able to develop partnerships with several institutional players that provided either financial support (EY and Legal Logik) or free office space for entrepreneurs (through Fonds de solidarité FTQ, The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal and Quebecor).
Today seven startups and about 15 people in total work out of the space, but when word of LORI Hub’s affordable prices gets around we can’t see it staying small for too much longer.
Through the LORI.biz platform, the cofounders want to continue throwing events and conferences. They currently offer free legal workshops and pro bono legal consultations from Legal Logik, once every two weeks. EY will give free financial workshops soon, as well.
“As we grow we want to offer more and more services,” said Beaudin.
Any incorporated business can work at LORI Hub and the space is not at all focused on tech ventures. LORI Hub represents a refreshing openness that unfortunately isn’t always seen among coworking spaces. It’s not uncommon to find spaces that are actually quite selective about who they take rent cheques from, despite a common “inclusive” mantra espoused by nearly all of them.
“It’s a great place to work,” said Beaudin. “We want to put forward our integrity. What’s frustrating about a lot of places is hidden costs and you wont find that with us. Everything has a friendly, easy-going approach to it and people get along around here.”
Have you read the rest of The Coworker series?