Filled with natural light, comfortable office chairs, internet access and three-pronged outlets, freelancers and off-site employees could hardly find a place more conducive to getting work done than Serendipity Labs. Housed in the old Biltmore Auto Sales building, the large space has all the accommodations of a professional office, including an aesthetic appeal that makes it an attractive place to work remotely for a day or to hold a client meeting.
The environment lends itself to productivity; workers certainly won’t be bothered by the novice guitar player or loud cappuccino machines that distrupt business calls at your local coffee shop. And while the space is designed to promote a productive working environment, because users must become members, it also promotes a sense of community among people who are otherwise apt to feel isolated.
“It is not so much about working alone then it is about working alone together,“ said John Arenas, founder and CEO of Serendipity Labs, the company he formed in November, 2011. Arenas opened the first location at 80 Theodore Fremd Avenue on Nov. 28 of this year and has already signed on a few members.
It is designed around a concept that as professionals, everyone has talents to offer and a personal brand to promote, Arenas said.
“It is about the ability to curate a membership,” Arenas said. “There is space and technology here, but it is really about the people.”
Arenas expects to attract people from different parts of the population and professional careers. So far, Serendipity Labs has a few members who work in gaming development, the finance industry, Information Technology for an insurance company and fashion.
Serendipity’s Rye location is the first of what Arenas hopes will become a chain of “labs” throughout the northeast United States, and eventually the country. Other locations would be run as franchise businesses through the Serendipity Labs company.
The space is designed around three concepts – to collaborate, connect and cogitate. A tour of the building shows how those concepts come into play within the design. There are shared workspaces, private enclaves, work stations and common areas, as well as an ideation room.
Clients can become members on three different levels – one day a month, five days a month or unlimited. The prices range from a $49 for day pass or once a month membership, to $1299 for an office and 24 hour access. With more moderate priced options in between.
The space features what Arenas calls, “various flavors of internet access.” The space always knows it’s you when you sign in. It is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
And if 24-hour access sounds like a safety risk, members can rest assured knowing that all members must go through a screening process, similar to one that tenants go through when applying for a condo or co-op, Arenas said. There are monitors throughout the space and your access card logs in when you come and go.
The screening process is also designed to make sure potential members will “play well with others,” in the shared space.
Arenas also looks forward to working with local arts, area colleges and non-profit organizations to find a way to share the space to further their mission.
The Rye location on Theodore Fremd Avenue is a few blocks from downtown Rye shopping and restaurants and the train station.
Serendipty Labs was built with the best sustainable practices, Arenas said, and it promotes sustainable, healthy living by providing a place close to home to which people can bike or walk.
He points out that companies who pay for employees to rent space at Serendipity lower their carbon footprint. And, Arenas expects companies to pay for their employees’ memberships to Serendipity for more than sustainability reasons.
“The trend is for companies to pay for individuals to work here.” It is called a mobile allowance, he said. Businesses are hiring more “flexible and trust worthy employees,” that are efficient without having to unnecessarily commute to an office.
“The most talented workers are knowledge workers,” Arenas said. “They have the most flexibility, they're trusted and they are able to work when and where they want,” he said.
Serendipitous Success for John Arenas
The Rye-based business is Arenas’ latest company after a string of serendipitous success with other similar ventures over the last 20 years.
But it was more than simple fortune that has contributed to Arenas’ success.
Arenas is a pioneer in his industry, which he calls the service category of business. His educational background is in civil engineering and business, and, over the last 20 years, has become an expert in market trends in the real estate, hospitality and business industries. Arenas knows how business people work when they are off-site at a hotel, how multi-billion dollar international businesses want them to work and what those companies are willing to pay for a “flexible and trust worthy employee.”
Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, the successful business man has lived in Rye for three years and in Westchester for 11 years.
His first venture, Stratis, was similar to Serendipity Labs, but instead of work spaces for individuals, Stratis offered workspaces for companies. Arenas developed a chain of locations in office buildings that offered shared tenant services, which companies rented. He grew that company throughout 11 states and Regus acquired it in 2001, prompting Arenas to become the president of Americas for Regus.
“It is the same playbook but a different project,” Arenas said of Serendipity Labs.
Stratis accommodated an old “Mad Men” style of business with a secretary out front, trying to look bigger than you really were, Arenas said. Serendipity Labs plays to a new business environment. “Now everything is transparent and verifiable,” he said. “Workers are very mobile, but connected.”
In 2005, Arenas left Regus to form Worktopia, which was later acquired by SignUp4. Worktopia is a global reservation system. It developed an inventory of all business centers that featured 86,000 hotels and about 3,000 work centers. Worktopia allowed businesses to find work centers easily for their employees while they traveled for work.
Over the last three to four years Arenas noticed another trend. Hotels spent millions on renovations to make guest rooms more business friendly, only to realize guests preferred to work in lobbies that were unequipped for their needs (try finding a three-pronged outlets for your laptop in the lobby of an outdated hotel – if you do, you’ll surely be sitting on the floor to be near it). So over the last few years, hotels have been transforming lobbies into business friendly workspaces. The concept of “working alone, together.”
With his years of experience and acumen in the business service category niche, Arenas decided to create his Serendipity Lab company in November, 2011.
“If I hadn’t done it before it would be prideful to say we could, but I think we can,” Arenas said of Serendipity. If his past endeavors are any indication, this third large business venture may be a lucky third charm.
Serendipity Labs is located at 80 Theodore Fremd Ave., Rye, NY. You can call for more information at 800.226.3678. Prices range from $49 to $499 for regular access. For $49 a month you can use the space one time a month. For $199, you can use the space five times a month. For $499, you get unlimited access to co-working spaces.
For regular unlimited 24/7 access, a member can join for $799 a month and to have your own “enclave” membership would cost $1299 a month.
VISIT PATCH AT SERENDIPITY LABS DEC. 19
Does this place sound cool to you? Well, come check it out and visit Patch. Rye and Port Chester Patch editor Liz Giegerich will be holding a December “office hours” on Dec. 19 at 12:30 p.m. at Serendipity Labs.
Come by just to say hi, or to learn more about Patch. I will be there to answer questions about blogging, pclaiming your business listing or creating a free listing. I will also be there to learn from you. Tell me how we are doing and what we could be doing to make Rye and Port Chester Patches better.
Coffee and pastries will generously be provided by Serendipity Labs. Thank you to John Arenas and Serendipty for agreeing to have us.
I looking forward to seeing you there!