Meet the Founders: Clayton Smith

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Clayton Smith

Co-Founder, Head of Community

Clayton was born on the west side of Michigan then moved to Swartz Creek, a suburb of Flint. After graduating high school, Clayton moved to Flint and worked at a factory in Webberville, driving an hour each way everyday. When the factory relocated to Mexico, Clayton was left with limited prospects in Flint. With the future looking dreary, Clayton made a trip down to Ann Arbor to visit an old friend, Kyle (another founder of GoWork). This trip permanently reshaped Clayton’s purpose in life and gave him a new perspective of what life could be like outside of the factory life in Flint.

Ann Arbor was quite different from Flint, but it had a vitality that Clayton couldn’t ignore - his eyes were open anew and he moved down to Ann Arbor as soon as he could. Clayton found a new home in Washtenaw County by immersing himself in the local agricultural community. He found a job at Old House Gardens and realized that he wanted to be deeper in nature and natural living. With the connections he made, Clayton was able to become a part of Tantre Farm in Chelsea - one of the most enlightening experiences he has ever had.

After living on the farm for a year, and certainly milking his fair share of cows at 6am in the morning, Clayton decided to venture to the west coast of America. From Spokane, WA to San Bernardino, CA Clayton spent 5 months exploring organic orchards, intentional communities and visiting friends and family along the Pacific Ocean. After months of self-actualization, Clayton hitchhiked all the way back from San Bernardino to Ann Arbor to make it just in time for his hair appointment to donate the ponytail he had been growing during his travels. Despite having an epic adventure, Clayton was happy to back to the place he knows as home - Michigan, particularly Washtenaw County.

He settled in at the Washtenaw Food Hub, working as Production Manager at a local fermented foods company, The Brinery. Clayton played an integral role in the growth of The Brinery as it scaled from 3 to 12 employees and began to sell to all Whole Foods in the Midwest. Seeing how finance impacted business, and its employees and owners, Clayton realized that as a financial planner he could positively impact the people and businesses he knew and loved.

Clayton moved to downtown Ypsilanti with his then girlfriend, now wife and started directing his efforts towards financial planning. He has since worked for multiple local Financial Planning companies and currently sits on the Financial Planning Association of Michigan Board of Directors. It was during this time that Clayton fell in love with Ypsilanti - the culture, the food, the community - all of it so unique.

Having lived in Ypsilanti, Clayton jumped at the opportunity to partner with his old roommates on GoWork. Every day the vibrancy of the Ypsilanti downtown community shines and Clayton realized GoWork is a perfect fit to serve the needs of the hard working community. Clayton couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.

When he’s not at GoWork or improving himself as a financial planner, Clayton enjoys exploring Michigan with his wife and going on walks with his Irish Wolfhound, David.

Meet the Founders: Andrew Sereno

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Andrew Sereno

Co-Founder, Head of Operations

Andrew grew up in Chelsea, MI - 30min west of Ypsilanti. After high school, he graduated from University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering for Chemical Engineering with a concentration in Material Science. While at University of Michigan, he worked with the Martin Research Group on conducting polymers for neural interfacing, helping co-write a number of published journal articles. He eventually joined his colleagues who formed a startup, Biotectix, to commercialize the technology they had been researching in the lab. At Biotectix, Andrew would eventually become Principal Scientist with his name on multiple patents.
 
Originally intending to stay in academia, Andrew headed out to Pasadena, California in pursuit of a PhD from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). While at Caltech, Andrew realized that he enjoyed the jack-of-all-trades attitude that a startup requires and the dynamic nature of business - and, above all else, that he would rather be with his, then girlfriend, now wife, Rebecca, back in Michigan. He returned to live with Rebecca in Ypsilanti as she finished her last year at University of Michigan.
 
Continuing his work at Biotectix, Andrew started to realize the burgeoning culture in Ypsilanti and the birth of an entirely new generation of economy - full of freelancers, remote workers, and entrepreneurs. Ypsilanti was growing, but was seeming to lack the centralized community that really creates a thriving economy. This idea lay nascent in his mind as he moved back to his childhood home in Chelsea with Rebecca, where they eventually had their daughter, Vanessa.
 
Andrew recently moved back to Ann Arbor and wanted a coworking space he could build his consulting business, away from his home – sometimes it’s nice to get a breath of fresh air and not be distracted. Looking around Ann Arbor, it was hard to find an open and accessible workspace that felt inviting without serious commitment, at a decent price no less. Then he remembered his years in Ypsilanti and how in need it was then of the exact space he was envisioning – something the entire community could benefit from. Looking, he saw that it still was in need, and the community was crying for somebody to open a coworking space. Putting his consulting business aside, Andrew decided to partner up with his old roommates from his time at UofM to open up GoWork. And here we are!
 
When he’s not working at GoWork or meeting with clients, Andrew spends as much time with his daughter, Vanessa – usually cooking in her play kitchen or chasing the cats around the house. If he ever does find himself alone, he enjoys kayaking the lakes in the Waterloo-Pinckney Recreation Area or gardening when he’s at home. Of course, those activities can only be done in the summertime in Michigan, so in the wintertime he finds himself playing board games with friends or videogames with his wife.

You’re at GoWork, but now you’re hungry… Where do you go?

Ypsilanti has amazing places to eat

This post shows you our favorites

You’ve been at GoWork all day, working up a storm and then it hits you: the gummy bears and coffee aren’t quite cutting it - it’s time to get some real food to eat, take a break, and clear your mind. Lucky for you, downtown Ypsilanti (and Depot Town) have some great spots, new and old, to grab some grub and relax.

A personal favorite of ours is Encuentro Latino. Just 2 blocks away, it’s a quick walk down Michigan Ave - long enough to get a breath of fresh air, short enough to not feel like you’re wasting too much time. Encuentro serves up fresh authentic guatemalan fare at a great price. Open from 11a-8p all days of the week, weekend included, it’s fast and guaranteed to satisfy. The price is right and the menu is hard to get bored with. Great vegetarian options as well.

Another option, fresh to the Ypsi food scene and making waves is Ma Lou’s Fried Chicken. Also down MIchigan Ave, in the other direction, just 1 block away - it’s an easy choice for a fresh take on a classic comfort food. Everything Ma Lou’s offers is on point for those looking for a fried food fantasy. 

Right around the corner is a local favorite, Red Rocks Downtown Barbecue. Whether you’re going for lunch, dinner, or happy hour, Red Rocks is sure to satisfy those looking for a traditional barbecue experience. A hearty meal, heavy on the meat, it will no doubt provide the dense calories needed to sustain an intense work session at GoWork. If you end up with leftovers, remember that we have a fridge for all members to use.

Feeling a little adventurous? Want to get some exercise in or make a long phone call while enjoying the views of Frog Island? Head on over to Depot Town for some excellent options (about a 20min walk or a quick drive when you need to shuffle your parking spot anyways.). Maiz is very popular, especially for happy hour - they serve some insane margaritas and do traditional American Mexican better than anybody else around. Ollie Food + Spirits serves high-end fare with quality ingredients that always leaves us satisfied - they cook everything to perfection. Sidetracks is an Ypsilanti tradition that has pub food classics and a diverse menu that will satisfy a diverse group - it is often the best choice when you have an indecisive group to feed.

New restaurants are popping up almost weekly in the bustling Ypsilanti food scene, and there are already so many staples that are tried and true, it is hard for us to truly give them all their fair time in the spotlight. Check on Yelp and stay updated, there is something for everyone nearby at GoWork. Here is a list of the other options that we encourage you to try downtown and in Depot Town:

Downtown

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Dalat

Beezy’s

Bona Sera

Haab’s

Ypsi Alehouse

B-24’s

3-D Nutrition

Go! Ice Cream

 

Depot Town

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Aubrey’s

Cultivate

Babo

Ypsi Food Co-Op

The Bomber

Our Story

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Our Story is out

Part 1

It was once said, “the best ideas are formed when something is missing in life.” For us, it was the lack of an easily accessible, judgment-free community space in the local area to focus on work and let creativity flow that led to the creation of GoWork. We made GoWork for like-minded independent business owners, remote workers, young professionals, and students looking to be part of a community that can otherwise be hard to find without co-workers or working on your own.

As we started planning out the space on 9 S. Washington in Ypsilanti, we went down many paths to build our business plan. We debated whether to go big, take out loans, and recreate famous Silicon Valley startup offices or create an organic space that will grow alongside its members. We took the latter route and chose to bootstrap the entire venture and be creative with technology to keep member costs very low.

We kept our principles simple: make an equally beautiful and functional space that elevates the collective by fostering community. Above all, we want every entrepreneur, creator, designer, lawyer, artist, scientist, builder, and doer to feel like GoWork is their work home and the GoWork community is their work family. We believe that connecting with others to form something greater than than the sum of the parts is the key to both success and happiness in life and we hope that GoWork can bring you one step closer towards those.

In the changing economy and job market, employees travel further to make less. The increase in travel is costing the individual time and money and creating more traffic burden for the community at large. More employers and employees see value in remote working. More individuals are becoming business owners and more young professionals exist that need office space, whether for focused work time or for meeting with clients. Oftentimes the answer might be to work from home, but working from home can be isolating. At home, there rarely is the novelty of a new connection, the frivolity of water cooler talk, or the release of happy hour with friends after work. GoWork seeks to provide a space for all of the best things about office life to unfold free of any of the drama beholden to a workplace office dynamic.

We (Clayton, Andy, and Kyle) come from diverse backgrounds: engineering, finance, startups and data science. We are using what we’ve learned both at work and in travel to customize GoWork to be exactly the place we want to work at - and, for that, you will likely meet us as we work at GoWork. We hope that you like it as much as we do!