Brett Kaufman's next big idea: A place where you'll actually like going to therapy
Brett Kaufman and Jason Block often noticed the same thing about the places they’d go to work with therapists, coaches and other wellness professionals over the course of their lives and careers: Their offices didn’t do much to enhance the feeling they were doing something to lift themselves.
The two Central Ohio entrepreneurs hope to offer a welcome alternative with a new concept that will offer office space and practice-management services to psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage counselors, substance-abuse counselors, business and life coaches, dieticians, nutritionists, massage therapists, Reiki therapists, acupuncturists and other professionals.
Think of it as sort of a Salon Lofts of wellness and self-help practices, loosely modeled after the Columbus-based suite-rental locations for hair stylists. Kaufman and Block are calling their venture Innerspace, and it’s scheduled to open in late spring in Franklinton.
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Innerspace will occupy the 11,000-square-foot second floor of an office building that’s part of Kaufman’s Gravity development at 500 W. Broad St. The hope is that the concept eventually will gain traction beyond Columbus.
The idea for the project—and also one of its main goals—came from their own experiences.
“I’ve been the beneficiary of being in therapy or working with coaches and other kinds of self-help for most of my life,” says Kaufman, 44, the founder and CEO of Kaufman Development. “I was seeing a therapist…way down on West Broad Street and I kind of hated the experience of going to his office. Not because of the therapy, but I would have to drive somewhere far away to an old office building that had no character. I was kind of finding myself pretty bummed out before I even opened the door.”
He and Block, 36, the former president of Homage, think unwelcoming, uncomfortable spaces can reinforce old stigmas surrounding mental health. “Where Brett and I come at this, we’re the client in this scenario,” Block says. “You’re going to this service where you’re hoping you’re going to invest in yourself and better yourself, but the physical environment often doesn’t match the service that you’re there to get.”
Their solution will be a bright, modern space—they both use the word beautiful—that will include about 30 private, sound-proof suites for practitioners. It’s a combination of their desire to shatter stigmas while still addressing obvious needs for privacy and confidentiality.
Monthly rates for practitioners will start at less than $200 and will include billing, scheduling, reception and marketing services. Spaces can accommodate people who see clients a few hours a week or as a full-time practice.
In speaking with about 50 professionals, Kaufman and Block discovered another need they hope to address. Many practitioners aren’t happy with their working environments, either. They work in one-person offices and can lead solitary, isolated professional lives.
“People working as coaches, therapists, dietitians, massage therapists and more often work alone and often struggle to find office space that provides the kind of nurturing architecture and design that their clients expect at anything like an affordable cost,” says executive coach Jan Allen, who’s among those who provided feedback for Kaufman and Block. “This building will provide so much more than a beautiful, nurturing environment.”
Block sees Innerspace as a place that hosts continuing education and other opportunities for professional growth. He also sees benefits in the simple “water cooler aspect” of a shared office. Kaufman, who has spoken in different forums about his desire to help people live fulfilling, meaningful lives, views his latest venture as an extension of that mission.
Bob Vitale is a freelance writer for Columbus CEO.
500 W. Broad St., Columbus 43215
Business: Shared office space and services for wellness practitioners including therapists, coaches, counselors, dietitians and acupuncturists.
Founders: Brett Kaufman and Jason Block
Opening: Spring 2020