Meet Convene, the WeWork for Meeting Spaces

Convene CEO and cofounder Ryan Simonetti (left) wants his company to be the WeWork for meeting spaces. Here with Chris Kelly, president, and cofounder.

Meeting to Order

Even in our digitally connected world, sometimes you need to meet in person. Conferences, training sessions, executive off-sites, and other big meetings are still important to companies, even as many have done away with their permanent large meeting spaces as a cost cutting measure.

Convene, a New York-based startup has been hooking up companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft with sleek meeting spaces since 2009, and recently announced a major expansion.

Convene works in the intersection of “real estate, hospitality, and technology,” Chris Kelly the president and co-founder of Convene, told us. The company has five spaces in New York, with three more on the way in the next few months, and additional spaces in D.C. and Philadelphia. These spaces can host events with a handful of guests to hundreds.

A recent influx of $20 million from Brookfield Property Group will give Convene the ability to operate conference centers at the real estate firm’s office buildings, build additional properties across the country, and to expand internationally.

Hotel banquet rooms are a common spot for off-site meetings, but Convene differentiates itself with amenities, and by their focus on meeting and events only. The company offers all-inclusive packages and per person (not per soda or cup of coffee) rates, which take a lot of the planning and high prices out of the process.

Convene also has their own planning and production teams. Technology services are performed in house, and each event has a dedicated technician limiting those common projector or microphone malfunctions. Convene recently began offering additional perks like coffee shops and fitness centers for attendees during downtime. And, let’s be honest, the meals at these big events usually leave something to be desired, right? Convene is different on the culinary front, too. Each of Convene’s spaces has an on-site culinary team that sources local menus.

“We’ve taken a scientific approach to researching the best options for serving groups in business settings and combined that with a farm-to-table philosophy on sourcing the best ingredients possible,” said Convene’s executive chef, German Villatoro.

While Convene co-founder and CEO Ryan Simonetti has previously described his company as the Zipcar for meeting space, with this new financing and extensive amenities, the company is now taking a page out of WeWork’s playbook, he told Crain’s New York. “We see an opportunity to replicate a similar strategy for space and services.”

You can learn more about Convene right here.


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