Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)
Filament, the Downtown more-than-a-meeting space has been open for almost six months now, so we thought we’d walk down Washington to check in with Matt Homann and his team to see what was happening.
An expansion, for one thing. On top of the 10,000-square-foot space at 15th and Washington that is currently complete, Homann recently purchased adjacent space in the building including window front property which will allow for bigger events and expanded offerings once its complete.
Also happening at Filament, Homann is happy to report, are plenty of meetings and events. The unique concept has garnered support from the region right away with The St. Louis Regional Chamber already stopping in, and Downtown St. Louis Inc., scheduled to come in as well. The new space has also attracted Purina, Wells Fargo, Century Link as Filament clients as well as non-profits and school districts like St. Louis Public Schools, and Webster Groves School District, who was finishing up a session as I arrived.
On the meetings front, Homann is pleasantly surprised with their early success, but admits there were some unexpected issues to work through.
“I assumed our early meetings here would feel more beta for a long time. And while internal we still see some of that, our customers aren’t seeing that,” says Homann. “The thing that I expected to work better than it has, is the actual operations of running a space. It’s a different beast. Little things you don’t know how to plan for and you don’t know how to expect—it’s different than owning a house; It’s owning a house where 30-75 people show up every day for a party.”
Still, kinks have been worked through as the team systemizes operations, and Homann says it’s been fun to learn more of the hospitality side of things.
Able to accommodate everything from a 7-10-person strategy meeting to an event for 100-150, For Filament, the size of the group is less important than the outcome they want for the meeting.
“In many cases the owner of the meeting, the one walking away with the outcome is talking to us versus the logistics person, who in other situations might be talking to a hotel,” Homann says. “So we’re able to influence at the very beginning, making sure they have the right people in the room, making certain that we build the day to get to the outcome they want. Once someone is here and has a meeting with us, they are looking for excuses to come back, which is awesome.”
But like Homann has promised from the beginning, meetings are run a little differently, with him and the team “owning” their role as the place where people think about being creative.
“We try and do in the room only the things you can do in the room. We’ve embraced the analog,” he says. “My problem with PowerPoint isn’t that they’re mostly terrible—even though they mostly are—or that it’s a crutch for speakers—though it is—is that it limits the amount of ideas and information shared in a room to a single idea at a single time. Putting a hundred people in groups of five to solve a problem, you now have, at a minimum, 20 people sharing information. The amount of work that gets done, the speed at which it occurs and the value of the people consuming it is significantly higher, because they’re engaged more.”
If you don’t have an immediate need to plan a meeting, there are still events in the works to get you in the space. Look out for—and get excited about—these upcoming events:
Fridays at Filament:
A casual, startup-focused get together at Filament every Friday. Hang out, get some work done and chat a bit with other startup folks about what you’re working on and how to make it better.
When: Every so often (on Fridays afternoons)
NSFW: New Skills for Work
Each month the Filament crew will host an opportunity to learn something new and different. It might be a discreet skill, a tip or a trick to help you be better at your job. Examples Homann threw out included Whiteboard Drawing 101 and Post-It Note Tricks.
“As silly as it sounds, those are things that you don’t pick up on purpose,” he says. “We’re hoping that using that as a semi-regular event allows us to build other curriculum and it’s a chance for us to try out the things we’re already doing with clients, and we’ll have enough people here that we can improve the way they do business when they get back to their offices.”
When: 3 months from now
The First 50
Homann looks to launch a monthly networking salon come 2017. But to avoid seeing the same faces you see everywhere, Homann has a different plan to bring in both professionals and creatives to mingle. The Filament team will ask a a core group of people to invite one person who is like them and invite one person who is not like them, building through that a list of 3-400 people, and then the first 50 that respond each month are in.
“We’d like to build out a core group of people that are diverse in every way you can define that,” he says. “So they come from different backgrounds, they have different stories, they come from different industries, multicultural, multi-racial, and be a place where those cool conversations that can happen.”
When: Early 2017