How Phil Domenico succeeds in Chicago’s growing shared economy

While Chicago’s tech scene is slowly but surely flourishing, other smaller companies that service these start ups are equally growing if not at an even faster pace. With today’s shared economy becoming a part of everyones life on a daily basis (Uber, Airbnb or Spot Hero), Phil Domenico the co-founder of  Assemble has found a market gap that is certainly gaining popularity: office sharing! Speaking for myself and being self employed, I feel old enough to work out of cafes yet too small an enterprise to commit to a fully decked out office along with all it’s fixed costs. I also chose home as a place for rest and relaxation, so working from home is not exactly an option. Office sharing for me is truly the best option and has proven to be energizing (you meet lots of people in your boat), inspiring and cost effective.

Domenico has found an opportunity in an industry that he’s been a part of for the last 20 years: Real Estate. A friendly, driven entrepreneur that has a knack for making people around him laugh, Phil talks to us about his path to success with Assemble, the Chicago market place and what makes this city a good consumer for the ever growing peer-to-peer economy. Assemble, a design-y shared 14,000 soft office space located in the Gold Coast with members such as Postmates, Caviar, Educators 4 Excellence is not only currently full but expanding into the hip West Loop area in Chicago. What’s more is it’s planning on expansion into cities out of Chicago… and this truly makes us proud!

Who inspired you growing up? Role models?
My parents. Having good parents really helped me excel a lot faster. Several people in my family are my role models for different reasons.  Inspiring confidence early on really helps in taking risks in the business world.

When did your passion for the Real Estate industry begin?

Started very young going to work with my father who worked for a prominent commercial real estate developer in Chicago.  Making money while impacting the awesome Chicago skyline is really intriguing to me.

What’s the most exciting about Real Estate in Chicago?

Chicago has a really important place in the world in terms of architecture.  It is also easy to get things done as many real estate deals get done on a hand shake.


How has the Real Estate market in Chicago developed through your observation?
With the advent of Uber, Airbnb, Relay Rides and Zip Cars, everything in our economy is becoming on-demand, shared and for rent.  Residential and commercial real estate is no different.  It’s clear in residential with the tremendous number of rental apartments being developed and in commercial real estate with Assemble taking the lead on right sizing the need for office space as the result of sharing office amenities like cafes and conference rooms.

But with so many shops and retailers going online, surely the desire for commercial property has decreased over the years?
Real estate is even more important now.  Many commodities including TV’s and clothes have gone online but just look at how much high-end retailers are paying for physical storefronts.  Commercial office space is even more important as the push for flexible hours while working from home is now over.  Nothing replaces face-to-face interaction and collaboration.  It fosters the best creativity.  Assemble Shared Office allows small companies and entrepreneurs to participate in a community.

Where do you see the future of commercial real estate in Chicago heading?
Independent workers and small companies will continue to grow.  Assemble Shared Office will cater to this need through beautiful, short term offices in great locations.

What gave you the idea to start Assemble?
We started our first company at an industrial incubator in Chicago called ICNC.  The lease flexibility along with the resources we utilized at ICNC provided a tremendous boost to our growth.  With Assemble we are capitalizing on this need.

And what sets Assemble apart from other shared spaces?
Best design, best locations, best community, best amenities.


How has Chicago contributed to your success?  
A member at Assemble recently told me something interesting about the technology industry – “new ideas get formed on the West Coast, those ideas get financed on the East Coast and then are implemented in Chicago.”  Chicago is the engine.  Also, it is easy to get things done in Chicago as everyone has a strong work ethic here in the Midwest.


Your Chicago:

The best thing about Chicago is all the different neighborhoods representing cultures from around the world and their food. You can find the best Italian food and also the best sushi. Then there are steak places. My favorite is Bavettes on Kinzie Street.

Any advice for entrepreneurs looking to follow your footsteps?
Take risks – whats the worst that can happen as a banker can take your credit but they cant take your health.  Surround yourself with good, smart people.  Luck – sometimes you’re the bug but often times your the windshield.

A quote you live by?
“It’s better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you’re stupid than open it and remove all doubt.” – Sam Clemens.


To get a cool office spot at Assemble, visit:


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