I have now been back to Austin for 23 days, and it's been great on both the business & personal fronts.  Although we still don't have a refrigerator for reasons mostly out of our control, Kim and I are getting settled in our house and life is beginning to resemble normal again.  On the business front, it has been great to work closely with my CTO, Bob.  I once thought it was feasible to start a company with a business partner working remotely… but after just a few weeks with him, I now realize that it's almost impossible to do a great job working separately from your business partner most of the time.

For the first few weeks, we managed to work together at Conjunctured, a local co-working facility just east of downtown Austin.  If you aren't familiar with Conjunctured, it is the brainchild of a group of like-minded entrepreneurs who do some contract work, keep tabs on what's happening in the community, and work to make Austin a better place.

Conjunctured has become very popular with the Web community in Austin, and for good reason.  The place usually has about 10-15 people around, doing their thing.  Most of the time the four founders are there… and they all can have an intelligent conversation with you about Web 2.0 and social media trends and opportunities.  For my money, Conjunctured absolutely is *the* hub of activity around new technologies in Austin.  I haven't found anything that comes close.  In fact, in the last few weeks working there, I managed to casually meet a handful of people I intended to seek out once I arrived in town.  All told, very, very cool.

As a business opportunity, I can't say co-working seems particularly attractive.  There can't be a lot of margin in it when business is good.  And as it gets more successful, it faces competitive threats — replacements, new competitors (I've heard of at least two others), and competing against the success of your clients who may very well move on to actual office space.  Even though the business probably works a lot like a gym (i.e. take memberships & hope people don't show up all at once!), I'd be surprised if it actually generates much of a profit.  But I'm sure it helps its Founders in a variety of other ways: subsidizing office cost, community exposure, access to people and deals, etc. 

It is also a tremendous asset for Austin's startup community.  Think about it… we all have a place we can go to work alongside other like-minded Web 2.0 entrepreneurs without needing a lengthy qualification process, a badge, a privileged parent, membership in a "club", a certain degree from a certain institution, or any other qualification.  If you're interested and you can pony up the modest fee, you're free to work, participate, and collaborate.  It's the very spirit of the Web without taking the leap into quasi-socialism.  Again… very, very cool as long as sales people and service providers don't invade and destroy the vibe.

So if you are in Austin and you need a place with reliable wireless, so-so coffee, and engaged, informed & intelligent company, pop on in to Conjunctured.  I entered a bit of a skeptic, but I emerged a believer.  Odds are you'll probably see us there.