The Buzz with Charles Planck of Affinity Lab
Tell us about Affinity Lab’s Mission:
Affinity Lab is a home, platform and nexus for growing entrepreneurial ventures. By providing scalable opportunities, office infrastructure, business tools and a collaborative community the Lab creates the space for individuals and organizations to bring their dream to reality
How did Affinity Lab start?
In 2000, after experiencing the challenges of founding and building a web development firm, the partners of Articulated Impact decided to make the effort of starting and growing an entrepreneurial venture easier, more affordable and a better experience. Basically, we created the tiered start-up operations and service model that we wish we could have used ourselves in starting our first business.
Why did you choose DC?
Several of the original founders had lived here for a year or two before it became clear what an amazing big-small town DC is. We chose DC for our first business over NYC because we felt it presented fewer hurtles. Outside the beltway most people don’t have any sense of what a strong, vibrant and entrepreneurial city this actually is. It didn’t take us very long to realize we could create a space, a home for so many of these compelling entrepreneurs to come together to collaborate and grow.
Tell us about Affinity Lab’s Model:
We offer three flexible levels of membership options (virtual, shared-desk and full/multiple desk) that allow members to right size their business infrastructure use to their specific needs and budget. While managing our members’ operations clears their paths to work on their missions and organizations, the most important aspect of our model is clearly the culture. The culture, which drives innovation, collaboration, idea, resource and opportunity sharing, takes on a life of its own and makes the start-up and small business experience much better and a lot more fun. Over the Lab’s 8 year, 67 member history the right mix and management of our culture and service offerings has lead to a 80%+ overall success rate.
What are the biggest challenges Affinity Lab faces today?
We are adding a larger, flagship location between NoMa and the H Street Corridor that will incorporate everything we’ve learned so far and nearly everything we’ve hoped to do in order to grow and expand our concept and the effect we have among DC’s varied entrepreneurs. Our biggest challenge will be to grow our vibrant, collaborative culture into our new space in a way that reflects and expresses the particular spirit of DC’s entrepreneurs as well as those of the two neighborhoods. While a challenge, this is also one of the best, most rewarding and most fun aspects of what we do.
What do you see in store for Affinity Lab’s Future?
We are planning to open additional neighborhood-based Affinity Lab locations throughout DC. This will allow members who enjoy the luxury of walking to work at a local Lab to also be able to make use of Affinity Lab NoMa’s unique amenities, space options and services. We are also looking forward to expanding our network of partnerships and alliances in a way that supports and strengthen the entrepreneurial efforts of their respective constituents and communities. Our members have already had tremendous impact here in DC and throughout the world. We can only imagine how an expanded and better connected mix of DC’s innovative entrepreneurs will raise the profile of the nation’s capital as home to some of the planet’s most creative and effective problem solvers, value creators and “actioneers”.