We're two founders planning a web startup together. And because we don't want to work from home, we're currently evaluating coworking spaces.
How is your experience with coworking?
Is it usable for early stage startups?
What about "secret things"?
And what about finding partners? For example: we need some design and usability services, maybe we gonna find some freelance experts while coworking? Possible or unrealistic?
Coworking is great.
My startup (early stage) just moved to C3 (Cambridge Coworking Center) in Cambridge, MA. If you're in the area, I highly recommend it. I'll even give your a tour :-). It's super-cheap, the free food makes up for the monthly costs, and it's great to be around other entrepreneurs.
I do know people who have meet business partners through working in the same space. I see it as forced networking -- working around the same people every day forces you to get to know them just a little bit. And like all networking you increase your opportunities for finding good people who fit with your company.
I think coworking is a great alternative. I am a commercial real estate broker and have evaluated all of them in Austin myself and think they are great places to be productive and meet new people, especially the creative, entrepreneurial type. I have purchased day passes at a few of them when I have some time to kill before my next meeting. I have worked at a few of them around town. It's a great experience and you meet a lot of really interesting people. And yes if you are in technology, software, or some sort of web based business you will have no problem finding partners at some of these coworking locations.