March 07, 2011

LiquidSpace Connects Mobile Employees With Fluid Offices

Just in time for SXSW 2011, LiquidSpace is opening its doors to mobile workers looking for flexible meeting and office space on demand through an innovative application for iOS that lets you track down and book available meeting spaces, based on location, availability and features. But which doors exactly? Well, any of them - for LiquidSpace is leveraging advances in technology, such as location awareness and the ubiquity of mobile applications, with trends in real estate that see employees working "all over the place" in a world where many buildings are significantly underutilized. The combination has delivered an opportunity for someone to step in with a solution for both - putting people to work in buildings that could spare it. LiquidSpace smoothly offers a real solution.

The founders, Mark Gilbreath and Doug Marinaro, over the last decade became familiar with how traditional real estate models with fixed leases were "completely at odds" with dynamic and growing companies. With commercial real estate responsible for 60% of our carbon footprint and money being inefficiently spent on holding space for people who might not be using it enough or would demand it too much, the pair determined there had to be a better way to get things done.

LiquidSpace Shows Available Venues In Your Area

Enter LiquidSpace. The concept is two-way, like Foursquare, for users to check into a location that offers a space, and for owners to claim a venue to set up description, hours of availability, and pricing. Venues can be slugged in one of three ways, namely:
  • Public Venues (such as a cafe)
  • Paid Venues (such as a shared work space)
  • Private Venues (such as a incubator or VC office)
In the Bay Area alone, we've seen incubators rise with notable hotspots such as the Founders' Den and Dogpatch Labs, which have helped to move the market in LiquidSpace's favor, delivering private venues withs hared work spaces, often including conference rooms and kitchens. LiquidSpace essentially tries to deliver a location-aware search with a unique piece of real estate that matches the scenario you are working to.

Booking a Workspace on LiquidSpace

The application is quite robust for not having yet officially hit the App Store. You can find meeting places by location, sorted by private workspaces, public venues or meeting rooms, see their free/busy schedules, and can book well in advance if you like. Venues can set criteria for you to book the spot, and you can even use your confirmation from LiquidSpace as your identification at the front desk when you show up unannounced.

For the home office worker, an app like LiquidSpace comes none too soon. Are partners from out of town looking to meet face to face over PowerPoint? Forget about Starbucks or your living room. Fire up LiquidSpace, find a private meeting room in your area and book it. Get a call from your boss when on the freeway that you need to be on a Webcast in 20 minutes? Pull over, open up your iPhone and book the nearest LiquidSpace location. The more you think about the possibilities, the more an application like this makes sense.

I won't hold it against LiquidSpace that they're iOS only right now. In my discussions with them last week, it was clear they were thinking big on how to crack the Blackberry-carrying mobile worker, and the growing Android population. We even talked about whether their next step should be to make a Web app available in HTML5, which I'd strongly recommend. But before all that, if you happen to have an iOS-capable device, and you want a meeting place on demand, and are in a supported area, LiquidSpace sounds like a great idea. If you're attending SXSW this upcoming weekend, you can even book a space in Austin now. So do it before all the meeting rooms fill up.

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