RICHLAND -- Red Level Game's first video game drops in early November, but the Richland-based startup still operates out of its employees' homes while maintaining an official location in an apartment above its founder's garage.
Still unready for an office building but having outgrown its original digs, Red Level Games needed something in between. And then founder Grant Williams partnered with Fuse, an office sharing, co-working space overlooking Howard Amon Park.
Fuse and Red Level Games grew out of Startup Weekend events at Washington State University Tri-Cities, where area entrepreneurs, developers and designers pitch ideas and create business plans and basic prototypes judged by a panel.
"After that weekend, we sort of said, 'OK, where does everybody go?' " said Brett Spooner, a 31-year-old Richland attorney and Fuse's president. He continued: "We had this group of entrepreneurs, but we didn't have anywhere to coalesce with them."
So Spooner and a group of others launched Fuse, which follows in the footsteps of Room to Think, a similar, but short-lived office-sharing endeavor that started in 2012 and lasted about a year.
Becca Lingley, a member of Room to Think, said the defunct co-working group splintered after a founding member moved out of the area. The group continued to meet nomadically, she said.
Fuse's office sharing concept differs from Room to Think. Room to Think operated out of single open space, while Fuse offers private offices among other arrangements.
The group that would form Fuse began looking for office space and developing a business plan after the fall 2013 Startup Weekend. A larger meeting of the minds was scheduled after the spring Startup Weekend in March and more people signed onto the Fuse concept, Spooner said.
Fuse also is developing a shared office space at 710 George Washington Way, across from the Parkway, the same location used by Room to Think. A grand opening is planned in November.
The 2,700-square-foot space features four offices, a side room with six desks, two conference rooms, phone booths, a "loud room" for group collaboration and a common area with seating and furniture. Business owners, entrepreneurs, creative minds -- basically anyone -- can rent an office, permanent desk or "hot desk" that would be shared with others.
"Right now, we're pretty much pursuing the hot desk idea," Williams said of Red Level Games' involvement.
It wasn't long ago that Williams was pursuing a plane ticket.
"Personally, I was really thinking about moving out of the area," the 30-year-old said, noting a lack of resources for startup companies. "(Fuse) has really made it viable to stick around."
Red Level Games formed in April after winning the spring Startup Weekend event a month earlier with Dragon, a free-wheeling, open-world action role-playing game in which the player controls a fire-breathing dragon as it crosses a medieval landscape. The dragon can wreak havoc or save the day -- the choice belongs to the player.
An early release through the online software distributor Steam is planned Nov. 7. Red Level Games wants to use customer feedback from the early release to develop updates. Williams also hopes Fuse's entrepreneurial environment will spur his employee's creative juices and lead to networking opportunities.
"You get all kinds of great crossover discussion," Williams said of shared office spaces.
Fuse also will provide Red Level Games with a sense of permanence.
"It adds a level of professionalism," Williams said.
Fuse's offices start at $400 per month. Fixed desks are $225 a month, while hot desks run $125 per month. Companies planning to rent space at Fuse include Gravis Law -- Spooner's law firm -- a web designer, a creative agency and a software company.
"The goal is to get creative people together so they can build from those associations," Spooner said.
Fuse will be run as a social purpose corporation -- "a type of for-profit corporation available in Washington state supporting socially responsible business," according to SPCwa.com. Such corporations pursue profit while stating general and specific social or environmental benefits.
Fuse organizers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to www.fusespc.com for more information.