This is the second in a series of features covering a workday at one of Denver's many coworking or collaborative office spaces. The first was One Day @ Galvanize.
Wed. March 20, 9:00 a.m.
I arrive at Battery621
at the busy corner of 6th Avenue and Kalamath Street. Josh Marinos greets me and shows me to an open desk. There are six single-person workspaces here that rent for $400 a month, and all but two have regular occupants.
The rest of the tenants, including a slew of creative companies and such snowsports standouts as Icelantic Skis
, The Public Works
(whose showroom occupies a third of the 30,000-square-foot building, a repurposed lighting shop), have long-term leases.Icelantic Skis headquarters.
I grab a cup of coffee in the central community kitchen. There's a dormant pinball machine in the corner. A couple of dogs are at play nearby, but beyond that it’s relatively quiet.
Marinos tells me about the construction project that’s in progress: a 3,000-square-foot rooftop deck, a rarity in the Art District on Santa Fe. "When we first bought the building, we looked north -- a beautiful view of downtown -- and we looked west -- beautiful view of the mountains," he says. "The deck started out as a bar conversation." In a few months it will move from buzz-fueled whim to reality and an enviable spot for parties and First Friday events.
Marinos leaves me to my devices -- I have an iPad, Chromebook and cell phone that recently spent 10 days and a snowbank strewn about the desk within minutes.
People trickle in slowly. I have a few words with Chuck Sullivan, of Battery621-based event producer Something Independent
, about DSTILL
I say hello to Jason Winkler of Wink Inc.
, a video production company that counts National Geographic, Vail Resorts and Mountain Dew among its clients. He's also one of the partners behind the building. "We’re trying to figure out a term for this," he says. "Coworking sounds like you’re working from a coffee shop. That isn’t us."
I meet Jason’s wife and business partner Ellen Winkler, whose Drumbeat
is currently involved in numerous creative placemaking and real-estate projects. "I think Battery621 is a workspace for the next generation," she says. "It’s the new normal."
Ellen says the building’s culture stems from the diverse companies with offices here. "Spyder is our anchor. They’re a huge company and they want to be more grassroots. Then you have Icelantic and Jiberish who want to grow. It’s this huge push-pull. Big wants to be small and small wants to be big. It’s top-down, bottom-up." She sums up the Battery621 personality as "not 100 percent baked and a little different than anybody else."
Ellen and Jason met in the late '90s in Jackson, Wyoming, when she was an event manager for Red Bull and other big
"We chose Denver because we saw what was going to happen. Denver is amazing. You can have a city and a career and have a mountain-town lifestyle."
brands and he was a pro skier. They worked together at Wink Inc. until moving the company to Denver when they opened Battery621 in 2010. Now Ellen is focused on Drumbeat while Jason continues to helm Wink Inc.
"Our kids were getting older, Wink Inc. was getting bigger and we couldn’t be in a mountain town anymore," says Ellen of the move. "We chose Denver because we saw what was going to happen. Denver is amazing. You can have a city and a career and have a mountain-town lifestyle."
They planned on maintaining the Jackson office, but ended up consolidating Wink Inc. in Denver. "Nobody wanted to stay," says Ellen. "We went and everybody followed."
Now she's entrenched in Denver and Battery621 has had a waiting list since opening. "There’s definitely another Battery in the future," Ellen says.
Dogs play at Battery621.11:30 a.m.
A dog’s bark breaks me from a trance. I have meetings and phone calls dominating the rest of my day.
I walk two blocks to El Taco de Mexico for lunch.
I have coffee with Nicole Relyea of Built In Denver
. One of the dogs buddies up to me and sniffs my shoe.
The activity level at Battery621 has built up to a low hum. "Sometimes it’s dead quiet and sometimes it’s really active," says Marinos. The deciding factor? "Sometimes it’s snow, sometimes it’s Friday and sometimes I don’t get the memo."
We don hardhats and he takes me up for a gander of the views from the deck-in-progress. I’ve never seen the city from this vantage point.
After descending the ladder outside and the stairs inside, Marinos introduces me to Dave Bacon of IT recruiter BWBacon Group
. (That’s short for Better With Bacon.) He shows off his "Shrine of Swine," packed with bacon novelties, and tells me about the company’s agile approach to IT recruiting. "We’re not your standard recruiting company," he says.
"We have such a great space," Bacon says of Battery621. "It really fuels us. Would we be the same company elsewhere? I don’t know."
I catch up with Ben Anderson of Icelantic Skis. "We’ve been traveling like crazy," he says, touting a new skinny ski design (SKNY) and a new brand (First Degree Boots) both set for launch next season. Anderson shows off Parr’s art on Icelantic’s 2013-14 line -- photographs of sculptures, rather than the paintings of past years.
Sullivan introduces me to filmmaker Tom Kolicko, who’s making the final edits to Crafting A Nation
, a nationwide follow-up to Beer Culture
, his 2011 documentary about Denver’s brewing scene.
"We’ve been working on it for a year and a half and we want to get it out there," Kolicko says of Crafting A Nation.
I notice he’s just filled his beer glass from the tap in the Battery621 kitchen, and ask him about working here. "It’s an awesome building," he answers. "It feels how businesses should interact."
With that, I shake his hand and head for the door, in search of my own glass of beer.