The Internet has created an army of mobile workers who stumble from coffee shop to coffee shop, seeking a chair, a table, Wi-Fi, and a fraction of the productivity they once enjoyed at corporate HQ.
Enter LiquidSpace, a smartphone app for sniffing out nearby free or for-rent oases of connected space—even conference rooms and settings appropriate for VC pitches. Additionally, the app boasts a sophisticated scheduling system for office owners looking to rent out unused space or loan it out free to potential business partners. Finally, in a smart move to distinguish themselves at the SXSW conference March 11-15, LiquidSpace is providing mobile work spaces, a move aimed at making fans of legions of attendees frustrated from long lines at Starbucks and shoddy cell phone reception.
"The corporate office is becoming a ghost town," LiquidSpace Co-Founder, Mark Gilbreath tells Fast Company. Increased demand for the comfort of home telecommuting and the need to be constantly tethered to the Internet has left a resource gap for mobile workers seeking on-the-go office capabilities. Hotels and Starbucks are a frustratingly insufficient solution for a reliable Internet connection and private conference room, especially for those that hop from appointment to appointment around town. To solve the problem, LiquidSpace users can search for nearby office space, just like one would for a restaurant on Google Maps. In addition to the hours and location of nearby coffee shops and libraries, office owners can rent out space for workers looking for more capabilities. Pricing, reservations, and scheduling are all handled seamlessly through the app's ecosystem (and LiquidSpace takes a cut of each transaction).
In the hope of increasing the global volume of available space, the app offers a sophisticated reputation system for office owners looking for a secure way to lend out underutilized space. A "Passport" will classify users by relevant characteristics, such as if they're a current client, or if they have a history of disrespecting the space (punctuality, vandalism, etc). If users meet the criteria, they can unlock a schedule and book an appointment. While some office owners may lend out space for pure altruism, others may want use the bait of free Wi-Fi and space to lure potential business partners into their lairs.
For SXSW attendees not interested in waiting hours in line for a coveted chair at Starbucks, LiquidSpace is providing mobile meeting workspace. They estimate roughly 1,500 discrete time slots available over a five-day period. SXSW is going to be packed this year, so we recommend scheduling these meetings as quickly as possible, as the Wi-Fi-ravenous tech crowd will surely gobble the available time slots faster than you can say "BBQ."
Also helping LiquidSpace is the financial backing of heavy-hitters including LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman.
The app will be piloted in the Bay Area after SXSW. LiquidSpace says it is "racing to a point, relatively soon," where users anywhere in the world can add new spaces. Soon, road warriors will be armed with one more digital weapon on their quest to conquer the chaotic battlefield of the mobile workforce.