The two-story brick building at 535 E. Fenhurst Drive may look like a typical office building, but owner Cyril Thomas has turned it into a business resource center for Katy-area entrepreneurs and small businesses. Tucked away next to a residential area off the Grand Parkway, the building opened in March to provide office space, a virtual receptionist service and business seminars to entrepreneurs.
Thomas said a trip to Baltimore prompted him to look for a building in Katy to open a co-working space.
“I got the idea from being a consultant and traveling. You usually find spaces in other cities where you can get your work done. It’s more professional, and the atmosphere is a little better for work,” Thomas said.
Leasing administrator Heather McGullam manages the property and provides reception services to The Hive’s members.
“It’s been a learning process for both of us, as with any new business,” McGullam said. “It takes a village, I think, is a very appropriate saying. With the oil and gas industry, we think there are going to be a lot of people who are going to try their hand at consulting or running their own business, and we want to be a resource through those first couple of years.”
Katy’s proximity to the Energy Corridor was one reason Thomas chose the location, he said.
“Co-working space provides Wi-Fi, snacks, coffee and space for collaboration,” he said. “We’ve had business travelers call in who need a day or three days or five-day options.”
Thomas said his goal is to provide more than a comfortable workspace. He has partnered with successful local business owners to present free and low-cost lunch workshops on topics ranging from human resource management to business financial management.
“I did my research. You really don’t have any spaces—especially in West Houston and Katy—that support entrepreneurs. They’re working out of their homes, sometimes with kids—I’ve done that. I’ve held interviews at Starbucks, trying to find a table—and a clean table, at that,” Thomas said. “When you’re a small-business owner you’re like an island trying to do everything, and you can get stuck.
A lot of people don’t realize there are resources to help you.”
He said he envisions The Hive as a one-stop solution for startups and entrepreneurs who don’t need a leased office but would like space outside of the home to hold meetings, learn skills and collaborate with other small-business owners.
The space contains a living room-style common work area for people who stay for a few hours or for the day. Office spaces of various sizes are available on the first and second floors. A kitchen and conference rooms are open for all members.
“We all face the same challenges [as business owners] whether we’re in the same vertical or not,” Thomas said. “[The Hive aims to be] a step beyond networking.”
The Hive will offer free co-working hours on Fridays for the foreseeable future, McGullam said.
“[The Hive] really wants to be a home for small businesses. We try to bring in as many successful people as possible to help mentor [members],” McGullam said.
• Co-working: access to a communal lounge area with high-speed Internet, desks and couches
• Executive suites: a private office with paid utilities and janitorial services
• Virtual office: a mailing address and mail handling service; can be paired with office rental or virtual receptionist services
• Virtual receptionist: a local phone number is provided and a live receptionist answers to forward incoming calls or send them to a personalized voice mail box