Mary Johnson

How a hurricane blew us into some pretty cool digs

Blog Post created by Mary Johnson on Aug 13, 2018

TechSpace main areaWhy waste a good crisis?  We didn't. 


When Hurricane Harvey hit the city of Houston one year ago, Pink Petro HQ was in its path.


Our space wasn’t flooded, but the building that housed that space was so badly damaged, we couldn’t go back. 


Thanks to the incredible outpouring of support from the Houston community — we found our way to TechSpace, a bright, modern coworking space in the Energy Corridor. 


Site Manager Bobby Spoden provided our team a space immediately.  And we soon learned that TechSpace ethos falls in perfect alignment with our mission at Pink Petro and Experience Energy: It’s built around connection, collaboration and, mostly importantly, disruption.


TechSpace flex spaceCoworking is changing the way we work, and if you aren’t already familiar with the concept, here’s a primer: Coworking spaces are communal offices, with wide open spaces where individuals can snag a desk and set up shop for the day, as well as dedicated offices where companies can house entire teams. They aren’t just home to the so-called “gig-ers” — members of the freelance economy formerly relegated to coffee shops and home offices. They are home to big companies and small companies, startups and small to mid-sized businesses.TechSpace Bayou City


The concept is upending the commercial real estate market for a lot of reasons. From a cost standpoint, coworking spaces are typically far more reasonable than an office lease, and the terms far more "flexible". Many coworking spaces only require you to commit for one month at a time. Compare that to the two- to three-year leases you’ll find at traditional office spaces.


But more than that, they are building communities (you know we love that) and thriving business ecosystems, where businesses support one another and collaborate. It’s the kind of place where you’ll meet someone grabbing coffee (which is free, by the way), and an hour later, you’re partnering on a project.


And we're always meeting new businesses that can help ours grow and thrive.


It happens. Just ask Bobby. He has worked with Pink Petro as we outgrew our first space and spilled across the hall into a substantially bigger one (and as TechSpace has become a proud Pink Petro member and sponsor). And he understands the inherent challenges in disrupting an old-school industry — and the power.


"People inherently want to be around other people. When you take that idea and put it in a business atmosphere, the outcome is amazing," Bobby explains. "You create a collaborative ecosystem with amenities and services that give small to large companies the flexibility to grow and manage their core business in a business professional atmosphere, just not one they aren't use to — yet!"


That ecosystem is vital when it comes to the future of work, says Jason Korman, co-founder and CEO of the culture design firm Gapingvoid.


TechSpace boothsWhile people constantly clamor for the ability to work from home, Jason said that trend is a disadvantage for both the individual worker and the team as a whole.


Social capital matters a great deal in being effective, and remote work heavily imapcts the quality and quality of interactions,” Jason explains. “In fact, remote working puts the Allen Curve on steroids.”  


The Allen Curve refers to a 1979 study that concluded that the level of collaboration of engineers declines dramatically the further apart they sit. It only took 200 feet of office to significantly impair collaboration, Jason says.


“I’d bet that technology has made up for a bit of that, but we do consistently find that remote workers are not as aligned with organizations as their counterparts at HQ,” he says.


Here in Houston, coworking wasn’t a slam-dunk concept from day one. There were skeptics — those who wondered why anyone would pay to work in a communal space when they could camp out on their couches for free.


We encountered something similar when we built Pink Petro and Experience Energy. We knew our big idea — to bust the gender gap in energy — was going to challenge the status quo. We also knew that status quo needed to be challenged and that we couldn’t do it alone. We wanted to build a strong, thriving community to join us on this wild ride and work together to transform the energy industry as we knew it.


We are beyond grateful for TechSpace — not only for giving us space during our time of need but for also getting who we are and what we do.


"I remember when I walked into Techspace.  I was in borrowed clothing, flip flops and had fished out my laptop from my (still) flooded home. Hurricane Harvey was a real pain for me personally and professionally but little did I know then that Techspace was an amazing start to a journey that speaks volumes to where we are as a company today," says Katie Mehnert, Founder of Pink Petro. 


We are so proud to have Techspace a part of that journey.  We're kindred spirits in our push for industry transformations, and now that we’ve joined forces? Well, there’s no telling what we can do.


Come by and visit us!