20-something UW research scientist is area’s latest coworking operator

The country’s largest coworking franchisor, Office Evolution, is entering the Puget Sound region, led by Alex Holland, a research scientist in a renal pathology lab at the University of Washington Medical Center.

Backed by his parents, Lisa and Frank Holland, he will soon open a Bellevue coworking office in a 12,750- square-foot space at Pacific Corporate Center (13555 SE 36th St.) near T-Mobile’s headquarters. The Hollands have rights to two more Office Evolution centers.

Coworking is becoming a crowded field in the region with offices opening seemingly every week

“Most of these other coworking spaces don’t cater to the type of clientele we cater to — older professionals — lawyers, CPAs and other professionals who might currently be working from home,” said the 24-year-old Holland, who looks at the Amazon-propelled wave of growth coming to the Eastside.

“In the next 10 years or so there are going to be huge, huge companies in the area and no room for the little guys,” he said. “That’s what’s driving this project.”

Holland grew up in Clyde Hill and earned his degree in biochemistry from the University of San Diego, where he also studied business. After graduation, he wanted to pursue entrepreneurship and considered going back to school.

“I talked to some people in the business world and they all had the same sentiment to share: Yeah, you could go to school and get an MBA, but the majority of stuff you’re going to learn is on the job,” he said.

He came across the franchise industry and looked at Krispy Kreme, Orangetheory Fitness and other options.

“Office Evolution itself has shown a huge profit and huge growth,” Holland said.

The Louisville, Colorado-based company was founded in 2003 and began franchising in 2012. It has 64 locations open and nearly 80 in development and is poised for growth, with nearly 30 percent of all office space projected become shared office space by 2030, according to a report by commercial real estate company JLL.

Holland is working with office broker Trevor Youngren of Cushman & Wakefield. The franchise area stretches from Everett south to Kent and east to North Bend.

“We have that greater Eastside triangle where we’re hoping to put another two locations in the next two years,” said Holland, who took advantage of his lab job’s flexible hour to launch the business. “I’m interested in Redmond, but we’re exploring all options in that search triangle.”

Holland said he needed someone older and more experienced to sign the franchise agreement, and his parents agreed. His dad was a corporate vice president at Microsoft and is now CEO of Apttus, a Bay Area business-to-business software provider.

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