Transforming the Tech Hive: A Conversation with Anna Buchholz

Last summer heralded in the official opening of the MidTtown Tech Hive, a coworking space nestled in the heart of midtown Cleveland. Walking into the Tech Hive not only will you find yourself greeted by warm and welcoming hosts, but also a bright and vibrant atmosphere. From a variety of conference rooms, classrooms, offices and private spaces, the options are plentiful.

However, the MidTown Tech Hive didn’t always look as it does today. The transformation of the Tech Hive has been quite the journey. Today, we sat down with MidTown Tech Hive Manager Anna Buchholz as she recounted the transformation of the Tech Hive from its earlier stage to its current operation. 

Erin: Anna, thank you for sitting down with us today to discuss the transformation of the MidTown Tech Hive. Before we go into some of the renovations that have been made here, could you give us a quick introduction and tell us who you are and what role you play at the Tech Hive? 

Anna: Sure. My name is Anna Buchholz and I manage the MidTown Tech Hive for DigitalC. I’ve been here for about a year now and it’s been quite a transition. When I first started, the building was still under construction but now it’s pretty much done. The Tech Hive has a functioning cafe and about 75 members that share the space. 

Erin: Anna could you just give a brief overview of the space when you were first brought on in comparison to what it looks like today? Could you give us a more detailed description of the transition process that Tech Hive underwent once you started?

Anna: Absolutely! I started on January 2nd, 2018. When I was first brought on, I had not seen the building yet. Our targeted opening date was supposed to be February 15th which seemed doable at the time. However, once I went to the site, I realized that I couldn’t go inside the building. It was still a hard hat zone and I knew that we were not going to be able to open on February 15th.  The building was still under major construction. There was dust and debris everywhere and the doors weren’t even up, so we set March 1st as a tentative soft opening date.  

DigitalC moved on February 22nd because we scheduled a Happy Hour. On that first day, there wasn’t glass on any of the doors, but we had members and clients who wanted to come and utilize the space.

Erin: Let’s talk about the design of the space. Didn’t you tell me when I first got here, that the room we’re in used to be an elevator shaft. What was the vision behind the space?

Anna: I was not part of the planning on this. The design was complete when they brought me on. My original role, as I understood it, was to fill the space, put processes in place to run it, build a community, coordinate events, things like that.

As you walk through the space, you’ll see how carefully everything is laid out. Everything down to the furniture maximizes the space as much possible. The designers had in mind that the space needed to serve the needs of people who were coworking – some people may need a private space to have a client meeting or even a larger boardroom space to hold a conference or pitch an idea to investors.

There’s a lot of multi-use features here and different stuff you can do. The classrooms are really flexible spaces -all of the tables are on wheels, the chairs are very lightweight and easy to move, there’s a collapsible wall in the middle of the two classrooms, and you can use it as two spaces or one large space. If you open up the wall and just fill the room with chairs and take all the tables out, you can fit about 90 people in there. I’m sure that the different uses of the space was a huge part of the planning process.

As for the conference room that we’re sitting in was the freight elevator for the building, which was a car showroom and repair shop in the 1920s. That wall, where the screen is right there, was the door. So, you would drive a car in through that door and then lift it to one of the other floors; but of course, we don’t need that feature now! 

Erin: If I’m walking into the MidTown Tech Hive for the first time, could you describe what my experience will be like? What am I going to see when I first walk through the doors?

Anna: When you first walk through the door, you’re going to see either myself, Keith or Sidney, and they’re going to greet you, and ask if you’re here to visit someone. We try really hard to make sure that people don’t feel lost when they walk in.  We want to reassure people that they’re in the right place.

As far as the look of the space, we have a lot of beautiful natural light that comes in to the space through these industrial-style windows. At one point it was too much light so we had to put some window treatments in place but even on gray days like today, you do get natural light, which is very inspiring! The Tech Hive has a nice balance of vibrancy and neutral tones so people can kind of fit into the space however they want.

Erin:  Anna after hearing your description of the physical look of the space and hearing more about the various uses that this building has, I’m sure the MidTown Tech Hive has hosted a variety of events. What kinds of events or conferences have been held at the Tech Hive?  

Anna: JumpStart has used it a few times. The space has also been used for Data Days which was in March or April.The Tech Hive has been used for workshops, panel discussions and board meetings. On Monday (January 7th) we had a professional development day for teachers; so it’s been used in a lot of different ways.

Erin: So we’ve talked in depth about the design and overall look and feel of the space. Let’s talk about options. If I’m interested in renting a space, what’s available to me?

Anna: The first floor is where we have our flexible coworking space which are our tables and chairs. People can work from that space for $10/day, and they have access to a seat and phone booths. This option is great for people who need a space to land for the day, are doing some remote work or have a meeting nearby.  

If you need a little bit more of your own space and you need greater access to the building, perhaps make our building your office, you could rent a dedicated desk. Those desks are located on the second and third floor - they’re very secure and you can only access via key FOB. A dedicated desk is $250 per month. With that, you get 24/7 access to the building, your own desk, a mini filing cabinet if you need to store some items, access to the common areas and some printing as part of your membership. You also receive 12 hours of conference room use.

If you’re thinking “I need more privacy; I don’t want a desk out in the open,” you can opt for our 1-person office. 1-person offices are $500 a month. Again, you get access to everything, like shared space, but you get unlimited conference room use. We have 2-person office spaces available for $750 a month. From there, we make a jump to 7-person space; that one is leased long term for at least another year, There’s a few instances where we’ve sort of leased things out to people for more than a month, and then we have an 8-person office that is currently leased. So we jump from 1 to 2, to 7 and then 8. 

One thing I’ve forgot to mention is that all of our memberships include things like WiFi and utilities. That’s one of the things that makes coworking attractive. When you rent a traditional office space, you still have to buy furniture, pay for business Wi-fi, pay for utilities and sign a 2-3-year lease.

Each floor has its own kitchenette and its own set of restrooms which is super convenient. All You also have direct access to Jackie’s Café Phix, which just opened and a wellness room - which is amazing!

Erin: If I’m interested in learning more about the space or discussing membership options with you, how would I get started?

Anna:  You can either reach out to me directly via email at anna.buchholz@digitalc.org or you can visit our website, midtowntechhive.com/. You can also get information from MidTown Cleveland; they are a great partner and they can put you in touch with us as well.

Erin: Anna, thank you for taking the time to walk us through the transformation of the Tech Hive. It’s certainly been quite the journey!

 

If you are interested in booking an event at the Tech Hive or renting a space, please contact Anna Buchholz for more information.