This says to me that there is a serious hole in the co-working space market. Assuming these Starbucks campers order an average of a $4 latte per day (some get black coffee, which is cheaper, but some add a muffin), and the cost of a dedicated desk at Affinity Lab is on the order of $900, that works out to a price differential of $800/mo. Surely there must be a point somewhere in the middle for which one could add certain beneficial services while keeping the cost enough to attract customers.
Starbucks, after all, does not exactly inspire loyalty - the seating is functional, but rarely comfortable; there are never enough outlets; the coffee is okay but somewhat expensive; the WiFi is often slow; the environment is noisier than a worker would prefer; and the venues themselves hardly encourage hard work. If I could pay $200/mo for a similarly casual but better-outfitted space in which I could work, chat, and drink coffee, I would jump at the chance. I've been trying to check out DCIOLab, but they haven't emailed me back.
Makes me think there's a definite business opportunity here, but certainly a risky one. Timing is important - is NOW the inflection point in density of remote workers, or a year from now? You can quickly go broke renting a commercial space for a year with not enough customers. Is there enough consistency in the office support requirements of the proposed customers? A good coffee pot or two (or a Chemex or Aeropress, maybe) is definitely necessary, but a copier? Fax machine? Phones? A conference room?
These are ways to differentiate a workspace from a Starbucks, but I think they may raise the cost too much and get too little use. I don't need any of those things besides the coffee-making apparatus. In fact, all I want is coffee, power, internet, good light, and preferably high ceilings. Could one provide those things, pack people in as tightly as they do at Starbucks, and make money charging $200/mo?