Bob Shindelar thought he was done with nightclubs. He founded his own independent promotion company at 21 and spent more than 10 years rising through the ranks of the Las Vegas nightlife scene. He was the first Vegas hire for the Tao Group and eventually moved to Australia to help open Marquee Sydney. A year later, he left it all behind to backpack around the world.
“I went to 51 countries and hit the reset button in a serious way,” Shindelar remembers. “I had no intention of getting back into nightlife.”
But then something bigger than a nightclub came along: Zen Compound.
Located in the heart of San Francisco’s trendy SoMa district, the structure not only houses Temple nightclub, but also Mirus art gallery and a co-working incubator space known as Eco-Systm. There’s even a breakfast and lunch coffee bar in the works called Hive. As a one-stop location for both work and play, Zen Compound is a place where you can spend virtually the entire day, from morning to early morning.
Shindelar was hooked. He now leads the operation’s marketing and entertainment team along with another Las Vegas nightlife veteran, Josh Donaldson. The two first met about 14 years ago while working at Ice nightclub off the Strip. They became good friends. While Shindelar found success with Tao Group, Donaldson stayed busy with Light Group, Hakkasan Group and as a tour manager for Tiësto. Their paths crossed again when both were brought to San Francisco by Paul Hemming, who had taken ownership of Temple nightclub.
We think this is a business model that we can take to any metropolitan city and have it be not just a nightclub, co-working space or an art gallery.–Josh Donaldson, Zen Compound marketing and entertainment team member
“Sometime in early 2014, he decided to revamp his nightclub to be something more along the lines of a Las Vegas experience with bottle service, theatrics and production,” Donaldson says. “It just took off.”
At the same time, Hemming was leasing office space in the building to a video game company and decided to transform it into a cultural hub where ideas collide. The concept was molded into Eco-Systm, a shared workspace community. “Co-working was a foreign concept to me until about three months ago when I came on board full time,” Shindelar adds. “It’s a growing industry and the future of office spaces.”
Here’s how it works: A day pass is $50 but most people go with monthly plans that start at $400. Bring a laptop and grab a spot at one of 30 to 40 desks set aside for open seating. Pay a little more money and take advantage of a “dedicated” desk that’s yours to use every day. Small businesses can rent private suites for about 10 people, starting at $1,400 per month.
“Co-working is a newer concept that’s been blowing up in the last four years in major metropolitan cities,” Donaldson says. “As real estate becomes more scarce and rent goes up, it’s harder to find office space.”
Of course, you can always just take your laptop to Starbucks, connect to the free Wi-Fi and get some work done for the price of a mini Frappuccino. But Donaldson says that experience doesn’t provide the same sense of community fostered by Eco-Systm, which generally attracts tech companies, entertainment professionals and startups.
Right now, we’re a nightclub group with business incubator and tech elements. Eventually, we want to be a tech company with a nightclub.–Bob Shindelar, Zen Compound entertainment and marketing manager
“All of a sudden, you have a group of six kids in the corner popping Champagne and everyone’s clapping because they just got a $4 million check from some venture capital firm. Or maybe they just got a million daily active users on their app.”
Cubicles are dismissed in favor of an open layout and comfortable furniture, which allow people to comingle and network. You also get everything a traditional office provides, including printers, copiers, whiteboards and conference rooms. And don’t forget this one—a mailing address. You can bring your dog, browse through a book from the in-house library, take a break in the art gallery or enjoy a wine tasting on the rooftop deck. A lawyer is brought in twice a month to offer free legal advice, and massage services are brought in once a week to offer an escape from the action. You can even order food from the in-house kitchen and have it delivered to your desk. When things get rough, take a nap in one of the sleeping pods, and you’ll be recharged and ready to go when Temple opens its doors later in the evening.
“We think this is a business model that we can take to any metropolitan city and have it be not just a nightclub, co-working space or an art gallery,” Donaldson says. “The idea is all three combined. We’re stripping down the walls and converging music, art and technology.” (At this time, they are planning their first expansion into Denver.)
“Right now, we’re a nightclub group with business incubator and tech elements,” Shindelar adds. “Eventually, we want to be a tech company with a nightclub.”