The pandemic changed many things about existing work environments, for both employers and employees. With greater opportunities and varying expectations, going to work now looks different, from person to person and company to company.
Although co-working spaces are not a completely new concept, Loloft, a new micro-warehousing and industrial co-working space, has taken the notion a step further.
Set to redefine industrial spaces, Loloft is a startup that took off in Northwest Arkansas, reaching the goals of both its CEO Brendan Howell and Paola Ibarra, co-founders of the initiative. As the pandemic accelerated e-commerce, canceled growth of brick-and -mortar retail business models and caused online shopping hit an all-time high, increased pressure was placed on warehousing, distribution and logistics. Therefore, Loloft created from necessity.
The startup incorporates an “industrial co-working” model that is designed for companies that need physical space in order to conduct their business. Loloft provides industrial workspace on a month-to-month basis and offers its members the option to upsize or downsize with 30 days notice.
“No long-term leases, no dealing with a landlord, no capital outlay to get started,” says the company website.
In an episode of The Startup Junkies podcast which aired on Sept. 6, 2021, Howell joined hosts Jeff Amerine, Caleb Talley and Davis McEntire to discuss new needs for micro-warehousing.
As Howell explained during the podcast, Loloft provides more than just a space for people to work– it is as much a “community initiative” as a warehousing space, uniquely separating the co-working space from others that have popped up across the state and country in recent years.
Howell described the concept as one that he hoped would cater to the varying work needs, for employers and employees alike.
“The whole idea was that we want to enable small to midsize companies to get started and take physical space on a flexible basis,” Howell told Startup Junkies. “We want amenities that office co-working also have.”
The amenities listed on the company website are many, including private offices, meeting rooms, phone booths and high-speed internet, as well as daily mail pickups from several carriers including UPS, DHL, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service.
“Being a startup, you just don’t know how much space you need. You’ve got an idea of how much space you need today, but you don’t know how much [you will need] in three or six months, or a year,” Howell told Startup Junkies, emphasizing that the progress in startups can be unpredictable, ranging from slow starts to explosive growth. “So if you startup, you want to get into the business of a physical space, you can come see us and [say], ‘I need 300 square-feet’ or ‘I need 1,000 square-feet.’”
With warehousing space readily available, Loloft memberships are set up to help other companies succeed, with access to the loading dock, warehousing space and office spaces all from one location. The amenities, along with the no-lease/no-landlord/no-capital outlay, are one part of the Loloft selling point. Another perk is the various networking opportunities available to members.
Marketed as “an industrial co-working space” on its website, Loloft places emphasis on creating a community to help its businesses thrive. The “community” holds events year round, with offerings such as fireside talks, Friday happy hours and “how-to” lecture nights, all presented by people in the industries in which its members work.
“The idea is to make this a unicorn, billion-dollar-plus company that was born in Northwest Arkansas,” Howell told Startup Junkies.
On Feb. 21, Loloft announced $1 million in funding, opening its flagship location, “x.001,” across the street from the original Walmart store in Rogers during the same month. The Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce reported Loloft is looking to expand rapidly, hopefully opening 20 locations across the United States within the next year.
Howell also told the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce that the need for micro-warehousing has proven to be significant.
“Demand for our micro-warehousing spaces is strong, with 50 percent of our available inventory pre-sold,” Howell told the chamber. The chamber also reported that Loloft partnered with Rogers property owner Bryan Hunt, a prominent businessman, to develop the x.001 location.
Loloft USA is currently in the process of expanding past Arkansas’ borders, driving the business model into other states.
In addition to support from the chamber, other established organizations in Northwest Arkansas, such as Startup Junkie, the University of Arkansas and the Northwest Arkansas Council, have supported the venture.
Loloft has also received local investments from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, led by Revolution Chairman/CEO and AOL co-founder Steve Case.
With Howell’s schedule booked and busy for now, he and his team have been “up to [their] elbows” getting the newest Loloft location up and running – leaving something for professionals to watch for over the coming year.