Co-Working For Female Entrepreneurs!

By Michael Hinkelman Philadelphia Daily News.

MELISSA ALAM, 26, of Drexel Hill, is founder of the women-focused website Femme & Fortune and a branding/consulting business.

Next month, the 2010 Temple grad is opening the Hive, a co-working space for female entrepreneurs, on Race Street near 2nd, in Old City.

Q: How'd you come up with the idea for the Hive?

A: I'd been working at Impact Hub, in Kensington, and realized that sitting in one spot is more productive, and the community helped me reach out to a programmer or designer if needed. An opportunity arose for this and I wanted my own space.

Q: Startup funds?

A: Right now my biggest investor is my mom. I'm going to be subleasing from the current tenant, At Media, who's moving to a larger space in Midtown Village.

Q: Value proposition?

A: I'm allowing women to come and grow their business and also maintain the space. I can only fit about 10 entrepreneurs in here, so I targeted a niche market. It's a chic space for women.

Q: The biz model?

A: There will be monthly memberships that range from $100 to work five days a month to $450 for a dedicated desk.

Q: How many women have signed up?

A: I initially had four or five friends, and now it's up to 16 or 17. I'm trying to organize a schedule for women who are only interested in five days a month, but I want to be a space where we don't say no to anybody.

Q: The name?

A: I wanted something eclectic, so it's the worker-bee, busy-bee aspect, but also the queen-bee aspect. Everybody is their own boss in the Hive.

Q: You also run a website called Femme & Fortune.

A: That started last year and I wanted to create a site with contributors and talk about female empowerment, career advice, technology and culture. It has about 4,000 unique visitors per month, and with that I also host events, peer panels, workshops and happy hours. The branding-and-consulting business is my moneymaker; it's referral-based. I began teaching myself how to make websites and do social media. It brings in about $40,000 a year.

Q: What's been the biggest challenge in growing all this?

A: Balancing passion projects vs. the moneymaking one. My consulting business will be run out of the Hive because I will be working there. I'm learning how to delegate tasks.

Q: What's next?

A: I'd like to get advertising on Femme & Fortune and also start Femme TV, where I'd interview women and put it on YouTube. I'd also like to open a second Hive in another city. I want it to be a hub for female entrepreneurs, providing workshops to learn, grow and develop.

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