The Foundry Brings Coworking, Coffee, and Community to 14th Street
Hang around executive director Randy Hawthorne at the new Foundry coffeehouse for five minutes, and he’ll have run into at least three people he knows. Building connections is second nature to Hawthorne, who has long been involved in marketing and community building in Lincoln. To him, it’s the driving force behind the new public meeting space and coffee bar attached to the Foundry coworking space on 14th street.
Previously called Nonprofit Hub, the coworking space opened in 2015 and was born out of Hawthorne’s online resource for helping new non-profits get on their feet. When Goodscents moved out of the retail location in the Nonprofit Hub building, Hawthorne’s team decided it was time for a name change to be more inclusive of the community they wanted to attract with the addition of a public coffee bar.
“The reason why we’re called the Foundry is if you go to foundries, most of them aren’t making a finished product,” Hawthorne said. “They are creating something to send on to the next place, to do something more. And so that’s kind of our notion here. It’s a starting point for the next place on your journey.”
Online, Nonprofit Hub still has a national audience, with around 40,000 emails going out every week to people with non-profits all over the world. Its staff works in the upstairs Foundry coworking space along with other non-profits consisting of small teams or individuals.
“I think that the notion of coworking is going to continue to grow as even larger companies are allowing remote workers, and even wanting remote workers, because they don’t want the overhead of having a building,” Hawthorne said. “It’s cheaper for them to pay for you to be in a coworking space.”
In the Foundry coworking space, members share WiFi, printers, meeting rooms, and of course, coffee. “Attaching a coffee shop to the coworking space was an amoeba of a process,” Hawthorne said.
One of the biggest draws was that it’s an earned income opportunity for the coworking space, so membership rates can remain low. Another is that Foundry board decided that the coffee bar would be 100% give back.
“Once we take care of that membership fee that we need to have on the space, we’re able to give back through our Founders group, which are the people that helped give us the donations to get the place started,” Hawthorne said. “They’re going to be able to choose the other non-profits that get our excess revenue from this organization. I hope that we get to the point that it’s in the thousands every month, and that we’re really helping our community in that way.”
However, the Foundry wants to be clear that they’re not just opening a coffee shop—that’s not the purpose.
“Our purpose is building a space to create connections,” Hawthorne said. “You do not have to be a part of the coworking space to work here. It’s everyone’s living room, so to speak. This space will never be silent.” The opening of the coffee bar has already led to tours of the coworking space from people who have come in and said they’ve been working from their living room.
“That’s part of the problem that we’ve had in the past about coworking and non-profits,” Hawthorne said. “You don’t know that they’re working in their living room. There’s no list of ‘People Working on Non-profits in Their Living Room.’ There’s no mailing list for that. So this kind of exposes us more to a community that is working from their living room tables.”
Founded in 1967, the Downtown Lincoln Association provides services and champions initiatives for maintaining and enhancing our vibrant downtown. Our vision is to create an energetic downtown environment where we live, learn, work, invest and play. DLA has evolved into a multi-faceted organization supporting a wide range of programs and activities including maintenance, economic development and advocacy.