SHACK15: Building Community and Sparking Innovation Through Inspired Shared Space

After over eighteen months of pandemic-necessitated WFH, many of us are craving camaraderie and spontaneous collaboration — the best parts of work from the before-times, where ideas for partnerships, investments, or the next world-changing startup could take root over a shared coffee. Collaborating via Zoom, we’ve learned, doesn’t ignite quite the same spark. And now, the bar for in-person collaboration is high. When we get together, our time has to count.

SHACK15, a global members community based in Silicon Valley, is on a mission to catalyze that collaborative spark through a new kind of social space dedicated to entrepreneurship, community, and big ideas. We spoke to SHACK15 about how they leverage their inspired gathering space to build community and bring together passionate founders, innovators, and changemakers from around the world.

Tell us the SHACK15 story. How did you start?

SHACK15 was started by Jørn Lyseggen, who’s also the founder and Executive Chairman of Meltwater and the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology. The reason it’s called SHACK15 is because that was the first official address of his company. When Lyseggen started Meltwater back in 2001, he didn’t have the money to rent an office, so his buddy let him use this rundown shipping container. The official address was Shack Number 15. Fast forward to all these years later, and he was ready to give back, start a community, and support the next generation of entrepreneurs. And that’s how SHACK15 came about.

Our membership-based community is a cross-section of founders, investors, artists, scientists, and industry leaders who are passionate about sharing their drive, compassion, and readiness to break the mold. We foster that by giving our members access to space, inspirational events, and a global community of changemakers. We want to help ignite the spark for the next great thing they’re working on — and we want it to happen here.

SHACK15 offers its members a really inspiring physical space. How does the space enable collaboration?

​​The way we support our global community is through our physical space, which is based on the third floor of the Ferry Building in San Francisco. We have around 46,000 square feet of beautiful, warehouse-type space. Our founder is Norwegian, so it has a distinctly Scandinavian aesthetic. There’s a members’ lounge that overlooks the Bay Bridge and has a bar and cafe. It’s staffed by some incredible partners: Michael Mina is our food and beverage partner, and our coffee is provided by champion barista Tim Wendleboe from Norway. Our amenities include work spaces, meeting rooms, and fixed desks — everything our members need to get their work done. It’s all designed to meet the needs of the entrepreneurs, founders, and hybrid workers who want to come in, innovate, and collaborate.

Even though we have a lot of work space, coming into SHACK15 doesn’t feel like going to the office. We really believe in the power of serendipitous connections, and realized that most of the magic happens in social settings.That’s why we do events 3–4 times a week — everything from panels, founder stories, discussions to cultural events and DJ nights. It gives our members a built-in way to socialize after work, break down barriers, and get to know each other. We’re really inspired when we see people using our space to engage, share knowledge, and provide value and help to one another.

You’re very intentional about the people you bring together and the commitment a membership entails. Tell us about that.

Being part of SHACK15 means taking care of each other, giving back to this community, and supporting the next generation of startups. Our values are service, heart, ambition, curiosity and kindred. This isn’t a place where you can come and demand to be served all the time. It isn’t just an office space where you come in, work, and leave. We expect our members to contribute by sharing their skills, hosting events, mentoring other members, or holding office hours.

We’re always looking for interesting people to be part of our community. Our members aren’t just founders or VCs–they’re artists and students and DJs. Some work at NGOs. We have a performer-in-residence who does dance performances here regularly–some planned, some not. We have a local artist who did the murals in our space. We’re really committed to engaging with the culture of San Francisco, creating space for artists, and finding ways for artists and entrepreneurs to bring value to each other.

Tell us about SHACK15’s global footprint.

Our members come from all over the world–and they travel all over the world, too. We have reciprocity agreements with tech hubs around the world, which means our members can work from partner spaces in places like Miami, Lagos, Rome, Tallinn, Berlin, Sydney, and Cape Town, among others.

Our founder Jørn Lyseggen also started the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, ​​an Africa-wide technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for technology startups in Africa. MEST offers fully funding training programs to the next generation of entrepreneurs–we teach them how to code, how to write a business plan, and how to determine the best go-to-market strategies, and at the end of the year they form and build their own startups. We also make seed investments. One of our goals is to bridge what we’re going in Silicon Valley with what we’re doing in Africa.

Where can people learn more about SHACK15?

Check out our website, where you can listen to our podcast, read more about our members and how we support entrepreneurs, and subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates. You can also follow us on Instagram to see the latest.

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Silicon Foundry is an innovation advisory platform that builds bridges between leading multi-national corporations and global startup ecosystems.