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Metronet makes the connection

December 9, 2013

At The Branch, it’s all about making connections.

South Bend’s newest co-working center provides a space where people, ideas and opportunities can connect. Metronet Zing provides the bandwidth that allows connections to be made seamlessly.

When Dan and Debi Neumann decided to open a shared workspace, they knew they wanted to be in downtown South Bend to take advantage of the energy found only in the city’s center.  “When we narrowed it down to two properties, connectivity became a focus for us. We knew we wanted a space where clients could do any kind of work,” Dan Neumann said.

“We needed a connection that was fast enough, with enough reliability, that bandwidth issues never would impact the success of The Branch or of our clients.” Dan said.

The other property wasn’t connected to Metronet Zing’s dark fiber network.

“That probably would have been fine if we were providing space for one or two people, but we want more than that. We want our clients to be able to do any kind of work and we want to be a place to build community, to host events where people can make connections. We chose the JMS Building because it has Metronet,” Dan said.

It is proving to be the right choice. The Branch hosted a recent Start Up Weekend attended by more than 50 people. The Metronet Zing infrastructure flawlessly supported that and other highly wired events, including Hack Michiana and the South Bend Open Data Jam with the City of South Bend and Code for America fellows.

Dan has a technology background – he’s an independent consultant working with clients in agile software development. Debi has an art glass business and manages day-to-day operations of The Branch. They wanted to open a space that would attract and support clients from diverse backgrounds.

And it has. One client telecommutes via Skype to an office in Chicago. Others connect to the west coast. Clients work in cloud computing applications, commodities trading software and Big Data and connect with team members all over the world. A social worker and a hypnotherapist have looked over the space.

The Branch business model is based on flexibility and simplicity. The Branch has a conference room, three private offices and a large, open shared space, all comfortably furnished. Charges are assessed by planned use of the space and packages are available from a couple of days a month to 24/7/365. Arrangements also can be made for one-time use for conference and offsite meetings. With no receptionist or personal assistant services, costs are kept low. For example, clients aren’t billed for use of the printer, white boards or other incidental costs.

“We keep it simple. When someone joins they get a key to the building and a key to the suite and they can come and go as they please. Just show up with your computer and get to work.” Dan said.

The Metronet Zing brand is helping the Neumanns market The Branch. Metronet’s reputation for speed and reliability means potential clients are comfortable the space can support their business needs, whatever they might be.

Download and upload speeds exceed clients’ expectations, Dan explained.  “It’s nice to have technology fade into the background and speed you can take for granted” he said.

“We decided to locate downtown to grab all the different kinds of people out there,” Dan said. Inside The Branch, the cloud computing client can talk with a client who does database technology.  “Personality wise, everyone’s different. Everyone’s here to learn from people who are different, inside the offices and outside, from encounters in the coffee shop downstairs and nearby restaurants to coworkers and customers anywhere in the world. Metronet supports those connections,” he said.

The need for data will become more important for any kind of business, with demands for cloud computing, VOIP, data services and providers only increasing.

“As we looked at potential locations, we got feedback from each building’s tenants. Having the ability to connect with Metronet made our choice really, really easy,” Dan said.

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