1871 is perhaps the city's hottest co-working space around, located in the Merchandise Mart.
If you're an entrepreneur, you're likely a bit of a lone wolf. Part of that is because you maybe want to protect your idea (which makes sense, to a degree) and also because it just comes with the territory. By forgoing the salaried existence, you're going against what most people consider to be a "traditional" lifestyle. There are higher highs, but also lower lows.
That's why places like 1871, the co-worker space recently opened in the Merchandise Mart, are so great. Not only does it combat the isolation inherent to entrepreneurship, but it also allows you to cross-pollinate ideas with others. Space is limited at all such places, but even if you didn't get into 1871 doesn't mean you should be soured on the experience or stop looking.
Grasshopper, a virtual phone system that's designed to help entrepreneurs stay connected, recently tossed up on its blog a great post extolling the virtues of these entities. There are many. There are more spiritual benefits like helping win back the work-life balance by creating a separation between working from home and working in a space where everyone is working very hard on their own projects. If you're working from home, maybe the only other one working hard is your cat, and that's because she's trying to get your attention to pet her or something. That won't exactly make an impact on your bottom line, but it's something that'll be eliminated by going to an actual space and working there. And your cat will understand.
It's worth a read, for sure, and I won't bother to paraphrase their other points here.
And if you couldn't get into 1871 and would like to try something, I'd like to recommend a place I recently hear about from a friend called Next Door. (Thanks, Ceda!) It's a place on Diversey that's the first Chicago outpost of a thing that already exists in San Francisco, started by State Farm. It's basically a space where people can go, to work, for free. There's also a café there. There are also free classes there, too, like, Wednesday night there's a startup bootcamp.
So, maybe it's time to get out of the coffee shop and back into the light a little bit.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.