Amy Nelson wants to shatter the glass ceiling—one communal office space at a time. The Riveter, the company she launched with Kim Peltola in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood in 2017, operates five coworking spaces across Seattle, Los Angeles, and, soon, Austin. To be clear, these spaces are open to all entrepreneurs, but are especially focused on welcoming women and people of color working who might feel less comfortable in tech-bro spaces. Like other coworking spaces, the Riveter has Wi-Fi, private phone booths, conference rooms, and mail services, but also amenities like breastfeeding rooms and day care discounts.
Late last month, Nelson announced her intention to expand to five more cities, including Portland, by mid-2019. Nelson didn't give details on the Portland location, but we chatted with her to find how her expansion is going.
Why did you choose Portland?
Portland just has an incredible community of women doing incredible things. You have Emma Mcilroy from Wildfang who has built this brand and movement. And then you have a lot of amazing investors that are doing incredible things to help others.
What does the Riveter bring that other coworking spaces lack?
I think the workplace remains truly inequitable on many levels, not just for women but for people of color. I wanted to make a difference and change the paradigm.
If you look at the leaders of coworking spaces today, they’re all founded by men. I think there’s something really important within communities that very purposefully think of women’s voices first. We are built by women, for everyone.
What benefits do members receive?
We try to build benefits that fuel life and work, because I don’t think the two really remain separate anymore. On one hand, we have tangible benefits—discounts on airlines for work, discounts on childcare, discounts for Cloud credits.
We also offer the benefit of a community where we’re very purposefully amplifying women’s voices. We have programming about the hurdles women face in work, whether that’s in a corporate environment or starting their own company. We have a whole bunch of programming about building inclusive workplaces and how men can be allies in the workplace.
Can you tell us more about the Riveter app?
It’s available on your desktop and your phone. You can talk with other members and discuss resources you need—say you’re looking for someone to help you build a financial model for your startup, or [you] need a coach to talk about the next stage of your career. You can also access our benefits and soon you will be able to participate in our events remotely, which we're really excited about.
You've expanded pretty aggressively so far. What are your long-term plans for the Riveter?
I say we build a hundred Riveters in the next five years. I think that’s a realistic goal and one that makes sense.