Veterans can apply to get free office space in 10 cities
from WBIR, Knoxville, TN
When Army veteran Trevor Shirk started his digital marketing business, the reality of civilian business life hit him hard.
“In the military, you step into a role and there’s already a team built around it,” says Shirk, 31. “But when you start a business, you’re an army of one.”
Shirk’s Denver-based company, Strattex Solutions, has taken wing in part due to his joining the WeWork pilot program — which rolls out nationally Veteran’s Day — that provided him with free office space, a special networking gathering spot and access to various mentorship programs.
“The synergy is really powerful,” says Shirk, who helped hunt for improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan as a U.S. Army engineer in 2010 and 2011. “I met other veterans and other entrepreneurs in the program, and I felt less like an island.”
Every six months for the next five years, the new WeWork Veterans in Residence program will give free work spaces to 100 vets spread out evenly between 10 of its U.S. locations: Los Angeles, Austin, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit and Denver.
The initiative, which will take applications online at www.we.co/veterans, also includes on-site business counseling from Bunker Labs, a national non-profit focused on helping veterans and their spouses launch their own businesses.
“They gave to us, now we’re giving back to them,” WeWork CEO Adam Neumann told USA TODAY. “It’s not just about providing a work space that hopefully is inspiring, it’s also about sharing ideas and being part of a community.”
Although WeWork rents space by the desk and office, its aim is to create the feeling of a high-tech incubator where new ideas can spark from random encounters. Some locations feature lounges, ping-pong tables and beer on tap, and workers can opt into organized gatherings that range from cheese tasting to networking.