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Audrey Gelman Building A Business That Nurtures Female-led Startups

Audrey Gelman, cofounder and CEO of the women-focused coworking space The Wing, talks about building a business that nurtures female-led startups.

Stephanie Schomer

By the time The Wing opened its doors in 2016 in the historic district of Manhattan’s Ladies’ Mile, people were clamoring to get in. The all-women coworking space attracted young professionals who were eager to spend their days alongside like-minded women, despite annual member fees of $2,350 and a very long waitlist. It’s not hard to see why: The stylishly designed space boasts amenities like showers, beauty rooms, lactation rooms, and private phone booths; and the regular nighttime event series has included panels with everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to Hillary Clinton.

This hasn’t come without some controversy. The New York City Commission on Human Rights launched an inquiry last spring to explore potential violations of anti-discrimination laws— essentially questioning whether it’s legal for The Wing to shut out men. Founders Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan, however, have expressed confidence that they’re in compliance with the law. And they’ve continued an aggressive expansion, recently announcing plans to grow from five locations to 11. We talked with Gelman about the necessity of safe spaces for women, and how The Wing has become a veritable startup factory.

A lot of your members are entrepreneurs or budding entrepreneurs. How has that impacted your community?

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Startups Spring 2019