Rob Brockhaus, a D.C.-transplant from St. Louis wants to bring conservatives under one roof, where Wi-Fi, printing, and ideas are collectively shared and like-minded individuals can connect.
Come March 1, freelancers, small non-profits and liberty-oriented businesses will have the opportunity to do just that in Brockhaus’ newly launched Red Sycamore Group, the conservative movement’s first shared office.
“Anyone can get office space, that’s not rocket science,” Brockhaus said. “What this provides is community—a conservative community where you can find value being with your like-minded friends, bouncing ideas off of each other and working on common interests to advance the movement.”
Nestled among commercial high rises in the bustling Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, Va., Red Sycamore Group is positioned just a bridge away from Washington, D.C. Potential tenants can walk two blocks to the Metro and arrive on Capitol Hill in under 20 minutes.
The office space wraps around the entire fifth floor of a 13-story building with windows lining the outer walls, allowing natural light to pour into the roughly 30 rooms Brockhaus is hoping to fill.
He plans on transforming the space into a full-service co-working platform, providing administrative amenities from office basics to a media room where tenants can record audio and video.
Brockhaus said those shared services will allow individuals and organizations from varied industry and professional backgrounds to focus their time on impacting constituents to a greater extent while pushing their message out.
“We spend so much of our time at work that I want a place where people feel productive while advancing the movement,” Brockhaus said. “This is the place where you go to get out of the coffee shop, get out of your basement and come network.”
After working as a bond trader at Edward Jones on the bustling trade floor in St. Louis for three years, Brockhaus noticed that the physical environment helped shape a positive atmosphere where employees worked collaboratively and efficiently.
He brought that insight to Washington, D.C., in 2003, where he first became involved in the conservative movement. He was drawn to the potential of physical operations after working at The Heritage Foundation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He saw how the organizations were able to use their resources and events to promote a cause.
“But what I noticed is that smaller organizations in the movement don’t have those resources,” Brockhaus said. “They are in tiny office shares or they are at someone else’s place borrowing space. They are not maximizing their time in the office and they don’t have the resources that a large, well-funded organization has.”
As co-working spaces for tech firms and business groups began to trend across the United States, Brockhaus decided he would start his own office share incubator geared specifically toward conservatives.
He went to his former colleague, Becky Norton Dunlop, The Heritage Foundation’s vice president for external relations, who immediately became his counselor throughout the process.
“He knows that I’m a big advocate for supporting young entrepreneurs and conservatives,” said Dunlop, the strategic adviser for Red Sycamore Group.
“It just struck me as something that the business world has found that works and that maybe if conservatives worked together in a shared office arrangement that included some mentoring opportunities, it would be good for the movement.”
Dunlop’s connectivity across D.C. and within the conservative movement has given Brockhaus the access needed to elevate his brand.
But Dunlop said there are two big challenges Brockhaus will have to overcome.
“Conservatives tend to like to buy buildings. This is not buying a building, so I think that will be a challenge,” she said.
The other, she continued, is that while many people have expressed interest in the concept, every organization has a budget it has to work with along with particular needs that have to be met, “so everyone is going to have to sit down with Rob and say, ‘what do you offer, what’s the cost’ and see how that works for them.”
Red Sycamore Group will offer 31 offices ranging in size, along with a number of cubicles and communal tables. Private offices will begin at a base of $2,000 a month while a cubicle will likely be priced around $500, and an open desk from $200 to $250.
Brockhaus said the range in office size and space gives groups the ability to scale-up and scale-down, depending on their needs at any given time.
Ultimately, he hopes the space will provide an environment where conservatives can meet people they would not have otherwise met while coming together to advance liberty-focused policies.
“Some of my best friends are people that I met while working—you’re in the trenches together, you’re trying to beat a deadline. People will form lasting relationships here so it is a community, not a network,” he said.
Red Sycamore Group will host its first open house Nov. 4.
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