Nick Clark owns Common Desk, the most excellent company offering coworking spaces to startups, small businesses and freelancers in Deep Ellum, Oak Cliff, Plano, and Fort Worth. He has a penchant for good design, be it interior or graphic, so schedule your tour today because you know you'll wanna check this place out.
Matt Alexander: First, tell us a little bit about yourself
Nick Clark:I'm originally from Arkansas, but I've been in Dallas for the last 25 years. I'm the oldest of three siblings. Growing up, I loved fishing with my grandfather, getting baseball lessons from dad, and developing small business ideas with my mom and younger sister. She and I would sell everything from bubble gum to bracelets to the other kids at elementary school. Anything to make a buck.
I went on to play a few years of college baseball at a tiny junior college in East Texas. I transferred from there to SMU to get a degree in Real Estate Finance. I bought my first house to flip when I was 19. That project lead to a few other flips in my twenties and an overall passion for real estate and design. I graduated college and began a career as a office space leasing agent.
During my 7 years in office leasing and management, I learned how to operate, market, and manage space. During those years, I'd consistently leave the office after 5 p.m. to work on an entrepreneurial dream/business plan.
At the same time, I spent a few years training for long distance triathlons. In 2011, I completed my first Ironman. My brother-in-law and I ran 71 miles just to see how far we could go. We were picked up right outside of Canton and couldn't walk the next day.
Commercial real estate and long distance racing gave me the knowledge, confidence, and discipline needed to get a business off the ground. The week after completing Ironman, I came home and quit my day job. I didn't have my next gig lined up yet, but I knew I needed to get rid of my safety net.
Matt Alexander: What catalyzed the idea for Common Desk?
Nick Clark:After quitting my job, I unsuccessfully tried to start my own leasing and management company. In the midst of that failure, I discovered co-working. And I instantly fell in love. It was the perfect blend of my passions for design, community, and working environments.
Around the same time, I also started dating a pretty girl named Katie Jo. She convinced me that, if I were to open a space, I ought to do so in Deep Ellum. In early 2012, I slowly started putting together the foundation for the idea that'd become Common Desk. We started hosting coffee shop meet-ups at Pearl Cup Coffee every Wednesday afternoon. After working together for a few hours, we'd head to a bar across the street. It was the beginning of community. Later that year, we opened our doors in Deep Ellum with 25 initial members. It's still one of my most proud moments.
Matt Alexander: You've got quite a few locations now. What's next for the company? Do you see Common Desk expanding beyond Texas?
Nick Clark:It's definitely been a big year for us.
We are currently building out a 27,000 square foot location in Plano and a 13,000 square foot location in Fort Worth.
As a company, we are currently working on a major push towards additional hospitality concepts. With more and more competitors entering the co-working marketplace, we want to differentiate ourselves. And we believe our experience is a core component of that project.
To that end, upon entering our newest locations, you'll now be greeted by a barista/bartender at our new hospitality bar. From there, we're offering craft beer and cold brew on tap, in addition to a wide range of other snack choices.
In terms of expansion, we are always exploring new locations. In terms of expansion beyond Texas, I'll say that Denver is very high on our list.
Matt Alexander: You're a new father. How are you managing the work-life balance between building your company and the responsibilities of being a dad?
Nick Clark:Being a dad is the most magical experience of my life. Opening Common Desk pales in comparison to the joy of watching Lincoln Lee Clark (LLC) enter the world.
Katie Jo and I have definitely had to make adjustments to our lifestyle, but we've sworn to keep being adventurous with life and, particularly, to share those adventures with LLC. He's now 9 months old and has already traveled to 7 states and south through Tijuana and the Baja peninsula.
As for work-life balance, that's always been a struggle for me. I will say that my son has definitely taught me to be more efficient with my time. Based on his sleeping schedule, I'm either at work around 6:30 a.m. or 9 a.m.. There's rarely an in-between.
Matt Alexander: You're obviously an entrepreneurial person. Do you think you'll find yourself involved in anything beyond Common Desk in the near future?
Nick Clark:I've never stopped dreaming and developing new ideas.
My current pet project involves the development of a pocket neighborhood of small homes with the outset goal of helping people with longevity, sustainability, and supportive community. I'm currently looking for 6-8 acres somewhere in South Dallas to kick-off the development.
Matt Alexander: For those working from home, what would be your main pitch to convert them over to Common Desk members?
Nick Clark:Working from home is great 1-2 days a week. I still enjoy doing it, but it's not a full-time solution. People need to interact with other humans and that's the heart behind Common Desk. Without the distractions of your house chores, you'll also see your productivity increase. Other notable mentions are great amenities like inspiring conference rooms and bottomless coffee.