Cathy Wang Makes Coworking Local
At BUILT, Innovation Encounters Community
By John Griffin, Cambridge Local First Board Member
Cathy Wang is one of Cambridge’s premier innovation leaders. She’s the owner of BUILT, an up-and-coming coworking location, where innovators of all stripes come to build their businesses. She’s also a CLF member. When she came to the United States in the early 2000s, however, she never dreamed she would become a successful business owner and a fixture of the city’s innovation economy.
Before moving to Massachusetts, Cathy lived in Shanghai, where she studied English. She came to the United States for graduate work, earning three masters degrees from UMass Boston and Bentley University. All the while, she was building her career as a successful CPA, rising through the ranks at her firms over time. Eventually, she was helping to run one.
For many years, she called Boston home—but now, she sees her move to Cambridge as a matter of fate. She was living near Northeastern University when she decided on a whim to walk her young daughter around Harvard Square. It was a picturesque day, bright with light snowfall, and Cathy noticed immediately how happy everyone looked. “This,” she remembers telling herself, “is where I belong.” She moved here soon after.
Cambridge’s coworking spaces were natural fits for her interests, and the atmosphere of her workplaces thrilled her. She went to entrepreneurship talks, sought out partners and mentors, and thrived in the innovation economy that Cambridge excels in.
Cathy first caught a glimpse of her future business when she bought a stake in the accounting firm where she worked, becoming a partner. Many of her clients were young entrepreneurs in Boston’s health and technology sectors, so she began holding office hours focused on those specific industries. As she helped innovators manage their books, she became fascinated in how their companies grew. To learn more, she started attending events geared toward MBAs and angel investors.
It was while working at a large coworking space in Kendall that she noticed a building on sale northwest of Harvard. Thinking of the success she had found in coworking spaces, she dreamed of starting her own. She bought the building, and so began BUILT.
Located in leafy Observatory Hill, BUILT lies within walking distance of both Harvard and Porter Square. Cathy chose this less busy neighborhood because she wanted to expand Cambridge’s innovation scene outside the traditional hubs of Harvard and Kendall, though she still loves both areas and lives in Harvard Square.
The coworking space offers both private offices and dedicated tables in a sleek, modern space with interior brick and natural light. Cambridge Local First recently helped Cathy acquire a grant to refurbish BUILT’s storefront, which now gleams with windows all across its façade. There are kitchens and coffee to fuel intense work, printers on-site, web-based conference rooms, and an event space in the building’s beautiful garden. The entrepreneurs who work there represent myriad industries, from architecture and urban design to healthcare and finance. Many live nearby.
Cathy’s hope is for BUILT to be a space where budding entrepreneurs can pursue their passions, find mentorship, and build community. That community-building benefits from her lifelong investment in Cambridge, where she lives, works, and raised her daughter. Through her experience with angel investors, she plans to create “a good synergy for them to invest in entrepreneurs” that work out of BUILT.
Cathy loves Cambridge because of its diversity, its appetite for new ideas, and its welcoming nature. As an immigrant entrepreneur and mother, she made this place home and reinvested in it. Now, by joining BUILT, entrepreneurs like her can do likewise. As Cathy’s life proves, Cambridge is a city where global talent and local community are one and the same.