Jason Ryder’s first introduction to WeWork was purely by chance. About a year ago, he was an employee of a Chicago-based money management company that needed to find office space.
“I totally fell in love with what WeWork was doing,” Ryder says. “The atmosphere was quite a change for me, coming from a 10-person firm where people didn’t really interact much.”
While he was at Chicago’s WeWork River North space, he started chatting in the kitchen with a guy named Luis Torres. They started brainstorming business ideas, and over coffee, they came up with the idea that would become the app Game of Arms.
And what is Game of Arms? It’s an app that connects people who are interested in challenging somebody else to a game, such as arm wresting, darts, pool, table tennis, or rock-paper-scissors. Choose your game, and the app will connect you with others in your area.
“It’s a great way to take a break in the middle of the day,” says Ryder. “It’s a way to get people away from the stresses that come with working so many hours. We wanted to create a fun way to meet other people.”
Although Ryder is still based in a WeWork space, he’s no longer part of the investment firm. He’s now working full-time on his business at a new space in WeWork Fulton Market.
It was there that he met Shawn Hilgart, who was working in the next office for a digital design company called We Can’t Stop Thinking. Over a couple of beers, Ryder told Hilgart about the idea for Game of Arms, and Hilgart decided to sign up. He soon became a co-founder.
“Shawn did a good job of keeping us sane,” Ryder says. “I wanted to add more features—things that would throw off the schedule. We haven’t gone off track since he joined the company.”
Ryder says just about every connection he made came from WeWork. He got great advice about starting a business from WeWork member Brian Axline, founder of the financial firm Lucro. When Ryder needed office space, Axline offered a desk in Lucro’s office.
And when Ryder was looking for part-time work in December, he got assistance from another WeWork member, Vivek Mehra of ParqEx. Since Mehra was another founder,Ryder says he was a great sounding board early in the business formation.
Ryder has big plans for the future of Game of Arms. For example, he’d like to let people start leagues around their favorite sport right on the app.
In the meantime, Ryder is excited about bringing the community together through Game of Arms.
“We can improve the global society just by having people meet up and talk more,” says Ryder. “Suddenly, they have something in common, which is a game that they want to play at that moment. Politically, religiously, whatever—it breaks down a barrier.”
Photos: Pretty Instant