Coworking And Kids: New Company Inks Deal In D.C. For First Space With More To Come
A new concept from two recent graduates of Georgetown's business school combines a coworking space with a day care center, and the company has just signed a lease for its first location.
Two Birds, previously branded as Hatch, signed on for 12,800 SF at 4001 Brandywine St. NW, a Douglas Development-owned building in Northwest D.C.'s Tenleytown neighborhood. Cushman & Wakefield's Theo Slagle and Mark Wooters represented Two Birds in the deal.
With the coworking scene exploding in D.C. and across the U.S., thousands of parents now work in shared spaces, but the largest coworking providers don't offer child care services. Entrepreneurs have begun to identify this as a business opportunity, and similar concepts have popped up from San Mateo, California, to Durham, North Carolina, to Vienna, Virginia.
Two Birds co-founders Kelsey Lents and JP Coakley, who received their MBAs from Georgetown in May, came up with the idea in a business school class. Lents, who has a 14-month-old son, previously worked in interior architecture, and Coakley, who has an 18-month-old daughter, has a background in videography and nuclear power plant auditing.
Lents said they saw a void in the market between parents who work from home and those who are part of large corporations that provide child care services. She said working parents want to be around other people without having to separate themselves from their children for entire days.
"Parents who are working from home end up feeling isolated, like they've lost touch with a professional network," Lents said. "This is a way to get them back into a professional network with people navigating the same challenges, without making them feel like they're sacrificing their relationships with their children."
After spending a week hashing out the details of their class project, the two decided to create a website to see if it could gain traction. After posting it onto a parent blog, the waitlist quickly filled up and they realized the idea could become reality.
The company in January won a $30K grant from Monumental Sports CEO Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Wizards and Capitals, as part of a pitch competition for Georgetown students. They have also raised a $650K funding round from a combination of angel investors and friends and family, Lents said, and they received a $30K grant from the D.C. Department of Education.
Lents said what separates Two Birds from other companies that have combined coworking and day care services is that they will operate a licensed child care center will full-time professionals, allowing parents to bring their children there for the full day and leave the building if they need to go to a meeting.
Two Birds plans to open the Tenleytown space in March. It will be on the first and second floors of the five-story building, which sits one block north of the Tenleytown Metro station. The building is also within two blocks of a park, a public aquatics center and a library. Lents said those nearby amenities and the demographics of the neighborhood drew them to the property.
"The neighborhood has a ton of people within our market, a lot of young families and people who don't go into the office to work, and it has great access to Maryland and the rest of Northwest," Lents said.
Roughly 70% of the space will be devoted to the day care center, which will have room for up to 100 children. The company will have licensed child care professionals and accommodate children from ages 6 weeks through 5 years old. The younger children will be on the first floor, with a ground-level entrance going directly into the space, and the older children will be on the second floor.
The coworking space will also be on the second floor but will be fully separated, so there will not be any children running around the workspace. Since D.C. has a need for more child care services, Lents said parents will be able to enter their children without also signing up for the coworking space. Day care memberships will cost $1,200/month for half days and $2,300/month for full days.
The coworking space will have room for 60 members. It will be entirely composed of shared desks and dedicated desks, and will not have private offices like many coworking concepts. The shared desks will cost $250/month and the dedicated desks will be $400/month.
It will also have a kitchen area with coffee and space for hosting events. Lents said they plan to bring in parent educational programming like sleep training experts and lactation consultants, and they will also host occasional happy hours.
Given the interest the company received before it even announced a location, Lents expects Two Birds will be full by the time it opens in March. Coakley and Lents are already looking for new locations and Lents hopes to have two spaces identified by the time the first one opens. She said they are targeting spaces between 10K and 20K SF in areas with large residential populations and nearby amenities.
"The next step would be finding the next two buildings and getting those leases signed and starting to build," Lents said. "We'll be able to roll in updates we want in the next two, and then we'll start scaling exponentially from there."
The D.C. neighborhoods they are looking at include Columbia Heights, Petworth, Takoma Park and Brookland, and they are also looking in Bethesda, Arlington and Alexandria. They eventually plan to expand to more cities, and Lents said she has already had people reach out to them from Boston and Chicago who were interested in the concept.
"It's incredibly scalable for locations along highly trafficked commuting patterns," said Slagle, who is continuing to work with Wooters to find new locations for the company. "As parents, we see unlimited potential for Two Birds ... Having a place to work and a place for child care in the same location is incredibly valuable to a mobile workforce."