Office Evolution Mill Valley Founder Cully Fredricksen and Business Center Manager Sandra Sims at their offices in the Shoreline Office Center, 100B Shoreline Hwy.

As Cully Fredricksen busily worked in early 2014 to launch Office Evolution Mill Valley, his 4,800-square-foot shared workspace in the waterfront Shoreline Office Center near the southern edge of Mill Valley, he faced a distinct hurdle. Brand new to the office space world, Fredricksen’s career to that point had been as an actor in films like Milk, TV shows like ER and Star Trek: Voyager and video games like Stars Wars: The Force Unleashed – and his second act was as a massage therapist.

“Carpets, office furniture, what height to place the frost on the windows – it all couldn’t have been more new to me,” Fredricksen says with a smile. “But I have to say – I think I nailed it. I’m very happy with how this space has turned out.”

It seems his tenants agree, as more than two-thirds of his 17 office spaces at 100 Shoreline Hwy. are full, with dozens using Office Evolution’s virtual services, which include “drop-in” workstations, a postal mailbox, a phone service managed by a call center and a kitchen, range from $99 to $299 per month, while its 100-square-foot offices go for approximately $1,000 per month, depending on the exact size and whether you get a view of the headlands or Richardson Bay.

The mix of tenants to date has been all across the board, from groups of attorneys and hedge fund managers to a financial services company focused on women going through major family transitions. Fredricksen’s first two tenants were a Presbyterian minister writing a book about the history of Christianity and the family of Vivienne Harr, the Fairfax girl who turned her lemonade stand into Make a Stand, a benefit corporation that supports her vision of “a world where all 18 million enslaved children are free and safe.”

“It doesn’t get more diverse than that,” Fredricksen says.

But one pattern has emerged from the group, he says: individuals, businesses and organizations in transition who don’t want to do all of their business our of their homes or at the local Starbucks. Those clients value Office Evolution’s simple fee model, with minimal costs beyond the flat fees, Fredricksen says.

“Whether it’s downsizing, upsizing or somewhere in between, these are people who need to know what their costs are going to be at the end of the month,” he says.

Laurie Fried, whose New Leaf Financial Advisory firm does financial forensics for people going through a major financial transition such as divorce, was Office Evolution’s first “virtual” client, renting conference room space and a mailbox in an attempt to “professionalize” her growing business.

“I had gotten tired of having client meetings in my house,” she says. “But I also didn’t love some of the other more corporate options out there for shared offices. Cully and his team bring a casual, communal spirit to Office Evolution that is extremely rare to find in that environment.”

In the year leading up to his launch of Office Evolution in July 2014, Fredricksen himself was in the midst of his own transition. The Redwood High grad had enjoyed a great run with LucasArts as an actor and in dramatic productions like Marin Theatre Company’s Killer Joe in 2006. But he’d grown a bit tired of acting and shifted to being a massage therapist in recent years, and then an injury forced him to give that up as well, and he was hunting for the next thing.

While hiking in the Austrian Alps in September 2013 with his brother-in-law Mark Hemmeter and their respective wives, he quizzed Hemmeter about the Office Evolution brand he’d launched in the Denver area in 2003. In early 2013, the company began offering the Office Evolution model as a franchise, and Fredricksen was intrigued. He opened the first franchise outside of Colorado, and the company now also includes locations in Salt Lake City, New Jersey, Ohio and Atlanta, with another 30 in the works.

Fredricksen himself is looking to expand in the North Bay, hoping to open an Office Evolution in San Rafael later this year and eventually have five of them along the Hwy. 101 corridor between Mill Valley and Sonoma.

Office Evolution’s clients aren’t the only ones high on the concept. Sandra Sims, who recently became Office Evolution Mill Valley’s business center manager – essentially the support staff for myriad young companies in all sorts of industries – left her job as a support specialist on the incubation team at Google to join Fredricksen.

“There’s an energy about people who are starting new companies that greatly appeals to me, and I love being able to empower and support them,” says Sims, adding that no commuting from Marin to Mountain View everyday is a bonus. “This is just a great environment.”

The 411: Office Evolution is at 100B Shoreline Hwy. in Mill Valley. Click here for more info on availability and rates.

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