The Riveter is getting back into the co-working business, but in a very different way.
The company, which raised about $20 million to launch a national network of women-oriented co-working spaces prior to the pandemic, will partner with high-end hotels to give its members access to underutilized lobbies, conference rooms and other amenities under a new “Riveter Spaces” initiative.
Amy Sterner Nelson, who founded the company in Seattle in 2017, will return in an executive role as co-CEO with Heather Carter, The Riveter’s former vice president of operations. Carter left in 2021 to launch Coterie Works, a hotel co-working startup that The Riveter has acquired as the foundation for its new approach.
The Riveter will also continue to operate its online community and newsletter, which reaches more than 100,000 people. The company’s backers, including lead investors Madrona Venture Group and Alpha Edison, have retained their stakes and been “unfailingly supportive” through the past two years, Nelson said.
“I wanted to try to keep the company alive and to grow it again, because it was my life,” Nelson said. “I put everything into this for years, and loved it. It was a really meaningful community and place for a lot of people.”
The Riveter was able to successfully exit eleven leases in what Nelson described as a difficult year-long process. The company had established locations in cities including Seattle, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Portland, Ore.
The idea now is to start to bring the community back together in person, without the huge investment and obligations involved in building out and signing long-term leases for dedicated spaces across the country.
Carter, an an experienced startup operator and advisor with past experience in the hotel industry, said the idea was inspired by the pandemic, seeking to match hotels in need of new revenue with workers in need of a new environment.
“I’d seen that the hospitality industry was really struggling to find its way back, and really open to new revenue verticals,” she said, describing the circumstances that led to the launch last year. “And then we also had 60 million people now working from home, and they were sick of it. They’d been doing this for almost a year.”
Coterie launched in August with an iOS app and partnerships with a handful of high-end hotels in Southern California, including the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel.
Carter had continued to follow The Riveter’s story after leaving. The company “has a very special place in my heart,” she said. “I’ve always respected Amy as a leader, and what she built with The Riveter is remarkable.”
After launching, Carter got back in touch with Nelson, recognizing the potential for combining the platform she was building with the large community that The Riveter was continuing to connect online.
The Riveter has about six full- and part-time people on its team, down from more than 100 prior to the pandemic. Under the new strategy, the company plans to take a lean approach, working with a network of freelancers and consultants as it expands to new markets across the country.
Carter said the idea is to grow further in the Los Angeles area before expanding with hotel partnerships in cities including New York, San Francisco, Miami, and Seattle.
Membership for Riveter Spaces is expected to start at $25 per month. The Riveter currently generates revenue from brand partnerships and newsletter advertising, and the company is also working on yet-to-be-announced online projects in addition to the hotel co-working initiative.
Nelson, who has remained a board member at The Riveter, worked last year as president of SaksWorks, a co-working partnership between Saks Fifth Avenue and WeWork. She left in October after launching the partnership and initial locations, saying she was excited to return to The Riveter.
She has been an ardent defender of her family and husband, Carleton Nelson, in a civil dispute with Amazon over his activities in his past role as an AWS real estate manager. They made progress recently, reaching a settlement with the U.S. government to return 525,000 in personal funds seized by the FBI. No criminal charges have been filed.
“I wanted to wait that back into a formal role at the Riveter until I had some sort of resolution with my family,” Nelson said, describing the recent developments as a key step toward that resolution. She said it “feels exhilarating to be able to step back in, and do it with a partner,” working with Carter as co-CEO.