“Googler” and former CEO and co-founder of NextSpace Jeremy Neuner spoke at the ICELab this past week to share his insights on collaborative workspaces and thoughts on why the Gunnison Valley’s entrepreneurial spirit is such a good fit for them. Listeners dragged in chairs, moved couches and flung their legs over armrests; the space appeared to manifest its creative potential before a word was spoken.
According to Neuner, the unprecedented worldwide adoption of the mobile smartphone—the fastest adopted technology in human history—has been emblematic of the shift in the traditional workplace paradigm. More and more people are becoming contingent workers, setting up mobile offices at home, in coffee shops and on park benches. While these are sufficient workspaces, they don’t harness the collaborative capacity many entrepreneurs and single-person firms need to thrive.
“Working outside the clothing of a traditional work environment is really hard,” Neuner said. “The way you make it easier is by creating collaborative workspaces like [the ICELab].”
While attracting massive multinational corporations is a viable approach to economic growth in major cities, fostering hundreds of one- and two-person companies is an alternative strategy—one that matches the ethos of the Gunnison Valley particularly well.
“People who work here really want to live here,” Neuner said. “And there is a fierce sense of community.”
Such integration between residents and the natural environment are fundamental draws of living in the valley and continue to attract minds from even the most far-flung places. The community is budding with eager students hailing from thousands of miles away, Ph.D. holders, old-timers, families, business owners, ski bums and tourists alike who have collectively sustained an entrepreneurial spirit for decades.
With the opening of the ICELab, “It’s a lot easier to be an entrepreneur now,” Neuner said. “You guys are at ground zero of the next collaborative workspace movement.”
Story and Photos by Peter Noon.