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A legendary Silicon Valley designer is taking on WeWork, the coworking startup worth $16 billion


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Yves Béhar is a design maverick.

He's the brains behind some of the most iconic industrial designs of our time, from the Jambox wireless speaker to the XO Laptop, a super cheap personal computer that has "made such an impact on the developing world that it's featured on Rwandan money."

Now the designer, entrepreneur, and founder of industrial design firm Fuseproject aims to disrupt the workplace.

This week, Béhar opened the doors to Canopy, a new San Francisco coworking space where freelancers, remote employees, and budding small businesses can get stuff done. Unlike many shared workspaces, Canopy is tailored to people in their 30's and 40's.

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Members pay a monthly rent ranging from $650 to $5,500 in exchange for a desk, access to conference rooms, and amenities including on-demand coffee delivery and messenger service.

Until now, one company has ruled the shared-office kingdom: WeWork. Founded in 2010, the coworking startup operates over 100 locations around the world and is worth a reported $16 billion.

Béhar likens Canopy to a WeWork for "mature" professionals. In lieu of foosball tables and beer taps, cozy reading nooks and a $700 mess-free juice-making machine (designed by Béhar) give the office a sense of sophistication. It's intimate and refined. Plus, its location in the residential neighborhood of Pacific Heights offers convenience for members with families.

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Béhar tells Business Insider there are two more Canopy locations in Bay Area neighborhoods in the works, set to open in 2017. But the company has no intention of stopping there.

Canopy aims to give WeWork a run for its money — and its 65,000-plus members in 11 countries.

"We want to identify and own the segment of boutique coworking, the premium end of the market," says Steve Mohebi, cofounder of Canopy and a longtime Silicon Valley investor.

It's unclear how quickly Canopy plans to scale up, though the cofounders painted a picture of the company as a major WeWork competitor, with future locations in the Bay Area, New York, and Los Angeles. 

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Someday, Mohebi predicts young entrepreneurs who hack hardware together will Google search "WeWork" or one of its lesser-known equivalents when they need a central base. People in their 30's and 40's will search "Canopy."

"It's people who have a lot that they can look to in their rearview mirror, and yet, they have a lot they still want to do," Mohebi says.

SEE ALSO: Take a look inside the anti-WeWork coworking space from Yves Béhar

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