Venturef0rth needed a Hail Mary pass, and it looks like it got one.
A last-minute $50,000 cash infusion and an abrupt change in leadership means the Callowhill coworking space Venturef0rth will be keeping the lights on after a scare that it would need to shut its doors for lack of funding.
The tech-heavy space in the loft district area of the city received a $50,000 gift from an anonymous donor who “believes in our mission,” according to current majority owner Marvin Weinberger. He also said he’ll be stepping down as head of the company and is turning it over to Gary Smith, the founder of Enterprise Law Associates, who will serve as the new executive director. The news was first reported by the Philadelphia Business Journal.
The gift — that comes along with several other anonymous monetary and in-kind donations — means that space that’s home to between 60 and 70 tenants will be able to stay open after falling behind on rent and being on shaky financial ground for at least the last month. In June, Weinberger told Technically Philly he needed $100,000 or a buyer within 30 days or the coworking space would shut down because he could no longer sustain it with his own funds.
Weinberger bought the coworking space from its founders last year and had plans to invest his own money in the operation and focus on space to hold events and host live music. He also invited in DreamIt Ventures graduates to work in the space for free until they raised a round of seed funding.
According to Technical.ly, that may have been his downfall. In order to house the six DreamIt companies and keep them in Philly, Weinberger had to essentially turn away companies that would have been paying tenants. He hoped housing DreamIt graduates would get him some funding from Philly investors and he could steer the company toward non-profit status, but there was no such luck.
Weinberger said he will remain working at Ventureforth in a part-time capacity working on strategy and development and serving as a mentor for those who use the space, but hopes to spend more time working on and promoting his inventions.
He added that Venturef0rth is planning an upcoming event that will serve as a “re-announcement” of the space and will aim toward securing new tenants.
The news of Venturef0rth’s shake-up adds to an already up-in-the-air coworking ecosystem here in Philly, as WeWork, a coworking chain of sorts, will open the largest coworking space yet in Philadelphia. They’ll open a 30,000-square-foot space at the Piazza in Northern Liberties sometime next year.
Meanwhile, Indy Hall, the oldest and largest space in the city, is mulling its future at its current location because of rising rent prices. Click here for more on the state of the current coworking scene.