Creative. Community. These are words I’ve been seeing a lot lately. My work with the University of Akron’s EX[L] Center always involves student creativity and is focused on the Akron community. A research project I am currently assisting with is all about helping a community. The words are part of Crafty Mart’s mission statement. So, it was no surprise that the words creative and community came up several times in my interview with OSC Tech Lab’s founder Nick Petroski.
Creativity and community are exactly what were on Nick’s mind when he envisioned a better space for professionals to do their work. As a Wall Street equity analyst, he found that many offices and other public places where people spend time working lack the collaborative and networked feel he and others were seeking. Coffee and sandwich shops were not cutting it either. These public, yet often singular and lonely, environments can be stifling to the creative process. In 2014, Nick opened OSC Tech Lab as an answer to this problem.
OSC Tech Lab is a co-working space located in downtown Akron on Exchange Street above the Thai restaurant Pad Thai. When it opened, it was the only co-working space in the area. Together, Nick and his wife, Meghan Geotz, keep it running for many professionals including freelancers, startups, writers, coders, and graphic designers. Akron’s art and culture publication, The Devil Strip, also calls the Lab its home. Besides desks and four walls, Nick says that there are other things that “take the frustration out of working.”
Around the Lab, there are many accessible outlets. All kinds of chargers can be provided. Various computer components like monitors, keyboards, and other things are available to members. If someone needs to practice a presentation there is a room with a projector. The couches provide a respite from sitting at a desk and there are open areas, enclosed offices, and meeting rooms. However, OSC Tech Lab is not just about a fantastic space.
Nick stresses that professionals simply looking for space should re-evaluate their search priorities and consider the benefits of working alongside other people from different fields. His company is essentially “selling a community.” Within a co-working community, Nick argues that productivity increases because of the motivational environment. Members are “challenged by” and “learn from” other members.
There is a network of employment that is about more than just pushing a business onto someone else or trying to get leads on jobs. It is about a collaborative effort where members can bounce ideas or problems off each other. Many members become friends outside of work which creates more natural opportunities in the future.
In the spirit of community, Lab members often have lunch together as a whole. Unlike other offices, there is no dress code. The space is very come-as- you-are.
When I entered OSC Tech Lab, I found Nick in shorts and a t-shirt. He embraces the idea of keeping the environment “100% organic.” People should be comfortable when they work. If a suit and tie is part of someone’s natural state then they should wear that. The main idea is that there are no impediments to any creative flow.
Crafty Mart espouses creativity and community. OSC Tech Lab shows that the two are important in a variety of other fields. Creativity and community working in concert will help propel Akron into a great future. So, thank you to Nick, Meghan, and the OSC Tech Lab members for upholding these two concepts and feeding the future of this awesome city!
Thanks, Julian! You can learn more about OSC Tech Lab on their website, and make sure to take them up on their offer of free co-working every Thursday! Make sure to sign up for Crafty Mart's e-newsletter as we highlight more of the amazing opportunities and resources for creatives in and around Akron!