How can I create a work share space for multiple tech companies?
We are in the process of putting together a shared workspace and would like some feedback from people who have created or participated in a shared space themselves. What worked and what didn't?
I've never set one up (although I've been pitched the idea a number of times), but I have rented space from one before. Before you consider this any further, make sure that your area can support it--Vancouver has a huge tech/startup scene, but I am not familiar with Prince George, BC and the type of activity you have going on around you.
Before you read too far in, the tl;dr version of this is: provide value (internet, coffee&snacks, reception, etc...) and a decent $/sf. for your space. If your market will support it (i.e. if your tech scene is robust enough), you should be fine. As extra credit, book a flight to SF to do market research by checking out the most established models that work.
For the *much* more detailed answer, read on!
At the end of the day, the model that is most frequently used here in LA (and SF and NY), is the hybrid shared space/coworking model. You're obviously familiar with shared space, but just in case you're not familiar with coworking space, here's the general rundown:
A certain portion of your space (let's call it 30%) is set aside for "co-workers." This space is open and communal (think coffee shop with long tables), and often has couches, phone booths (exactly what you're thinking--oldschool style phone booth to provide a modicum of privacy for a co-worker who's on the phone), and open outdoor areas (maybe a balcony or patio). The idea behind co-working space is to provide a semi-quiet environment that is shared by other like minded individuals working on tech/startup style projects. Higher end than a coffee shop, but less expensive than a real office.
Why you care about coworking: co-workers pay a monthly membership fee to belong to your space(although single-fee day passes are generally available), and they pay this membership fee whether they show up or not. If you've ever been to a gym, then you should at least be familiar with this business model. Advantage--high ROI customers, and an unbelievably high $/sf return to you. Disadvantage--more people in your space, which requires a full-time manager onsite at virtually all times. Bottom line--if you are looking at the shared space as a revenue generator (i.e. if this will be your business), then this is a great way to find profitability. If you are just looking to offset you office space costs, however, co-working will likely be too involved for you to want to bother with.
Next comes the shared office space. These are typically split into tiers of office space, since it is often less about the exact size and more about the number of people you're willing to have in each office. Typically, I see spaces that do small (2-3 people max), medium (4-6 people max), and large (6-8, sometimes more depending on the total space available). You definitely want diverse sizing though, because 1) it opens you up to a larger customer base, and 2) people like the idea of feeling that they can grow into a bigger space within the same building.
In terms of services that you'll need to provide, high speed internet w/WiFi (from a reliable provider) is an obvious must. You'll need at least a part-time IT staff member, because your companies (and co-workers, if you choose that route), will have zero patience for outages.
Other basics include a kitchen with (at a minimum) coffee, water, tea, and some snacks. The more you provide here, the happier people will be (I saw one that literally brought in home-cooked meals every Friday). Printer, scanner, fax (I know, but people still use these). Conference rooms are not an absolute necessity, but you'll lose a lot of customers if you're not offering it.
Beyond that, there are a huge number of variations. Looking to appeal to startups? Offer guest speakers, mixer events, or even incubator-style services. Looking to appeal to a more established clientele? Offer business services, consulting/IT/security support, and the like. At the end of the day, there is a tremendous amount of customization based on your specific goals.
This may feel like a lot of info, but it's really just scratching the surface. If you're really going to do this, do it right and book a flight to SF. You can go to 5 to 10 co-working/shared spaces offices on a free day pass and do as much research as you can. For the price of a flight and a ridiculously overpriced hotel (sorry, but that's California right now), you'll get all the info you need.
Provide consulting resources these companies need such as accounting, legal, technical, marketing, bus dev, etc. Consider using retired folks as they will not cost a great deal as we all need something to do after retirement.
We recently opened a unique co-working & makerspace in our city (Topeka KS) and it's located on downtown mainstreet. The funding came from local/federal public funds and private donors; much being in-kind. It opened in February, but the memberships are filling up faster than people expected. The 'leaders' in the community were skeptical for a long time because they are not tech-savvy or literate, but now they are starting to see the light. I also sit on the advisory board.. (712 Innovations - Topeka KS)
gee, Hugh Myers has it right-on- I'm setting up a business incubator in Vancouver and have designed a similar space but prefer calling it a 'hottest'- membership based but used as needed and not an office but the 'MacDonalds tables
I'm for putting in a lot of sofas and bean bags - shared communal areas whereas the work stations are small, less comfortable / inspiring and more cloistered.
I can speak to the real estate. This will be you biggest decision.
1st, I recommend limiting liability in the lease. Your attorney can best address this issue and you may want to discuss: personal guarantees, letters of credit, and security deposits and what they can mean if you want to get out of the lease.
It helps to lease space that is already built out, so it will not cost either the Landlord or you (the tenant) much money to get the space ready for occupancy. The position is that the less it costs to turn-key the space means there is less risk for all parties; and therefore, and you can argue that the security requirements should be lower as there is less money on the table to protect. Construction costs are much higher than in residential, and if it costs $40.00 to $50.00+ per rsf the Landlord will usually want to protect that investment.
2nd, you may want to address the Subleasing section in the lease. Most commercial leases put a lot of restrictions of Subleasing, and since this will be the goal and main business with your space you want to remove any profit sharing clauses, and limit consent requirements.
3rd, signage. If you are taking a significant portion of a small building, or a floor in a building, it would be beneficial to be able to offer signage rights to a perspective large subtenant. This could put you ahead of the competition, as most shared service spaces cannot offer this. Moreover, it should not cost you anything to win this in negotiations.
4th, leasing is essentially about rights to control the space. To that end you may want to consider a right to terminate the lease, if this is a new business venture. If the business is strong and established you should be looking for rights to extend and renew the lease into the future. The subtenants should have a notice period to terminate their sublease. Three (3) months is common, but if you can get four (4) months that would be better for your business.
5th, and last. Virtual offices are very profitable, from what my executive suite and shared service clients tell me. There are unlimited amounts of clients that you can have virtually, as they don’t take any physical space. They tend to stay with the same company for long periods of time for continuity, and many companies do automated withdraw which helps guarantee cash flow.
Best success and wishes with your venture! Feel free to contact me if you have questions and/or comments.
for the difference in hotel fees you could probably afford airfare to Charleston, SC ;-)
we have a very successful program here - but I can't insert URL
so google "charleston digital corridor"
Google has everything you need. It has shared storage. Forms which is pretty much MS office and much more. I used this at a company I consuted for and it works very well. It is secure and web based so it would easily work with multiple sites or companies. I am not sure about cost but from functionality and usability it worked very well.
See TechLaunch, a New Jersey based incubator for tech start-up firms.
Trello has a nice offering for setting up workflows and tracking who has what and who has completed what. It uses cards which can be formatted to include to do lists or one item. Worth the free test drive.
Hi, I am a one man band and use Mavenlink to organise my projects and many deadlines, and I pay for the privilege.
Though I've not managed to make it sync with my Quickbooks (probably because I am UK based), I have used the workspaces with clients and colleagues.
I have done that because it avoided missing emails and also I could upload documents.
The project management also has Gants charts which techies love and the project elements are now stronger, apparently.
You might take a look as I am sure I had a free trial period before buying. I have also upgraded since using over the past two years.
And for the cynics, I have no affiliation to this company, but am a customer and receive nothing for sharing this with you.
You can use Share point a shared work space, or even google documents, or traditional ftp shared servers which you organize and categorize and have access shares those who has sign in account with the ftp server and hence will be able to download, upload, update work, and organize work. I am sure you have to have leader to manage and coordinate the ftp, or share point or google shared drive to be able to give authority and give access to fellow members who are sharing work space.
Design multiple cabin for small business e.g freelancer IT persons...
Use a secret Pinterest Boards. Its a great way to do multi-party projects. Visual discovery tool. Accessible from anywhere. Pins can tell stories or they can just point back to locally stored resources of each party
Look up the concept of enterprise social networking for many options. Mango, Yammer and many more could do the job but you will need to be clear on what features you need. Office 365 for business also offers a few useful features. Consider "facebook for business" as a concept
Ultimately the goal is to emulate and piggyback off your group interests and add to spark more questions. Value starts with knowing how to engage a guideline or plan mutual agreement.
I often consider this and I would very much like it. The US Gov't and many large companies are encouraging telework, I want to be around other people to work, and away from the distractions of home. But I need serious bandwidth for the VPN into the office(s) with which I work. The network infrastructure would be a big deal. I want to be able to have secure network availability as a benefit of choosing the shared workspace ahead of Starbucks. If the shared workspace is the only space that some of the tech companies have, then they need a secure intranet as part of their infrastructure. I've only set up one company is a space. I'd be concerned about the bandwidth and network security for multiple businesses.
You need to identify if people want to just rent a space or will there be opportunities for collaboration, if there areas for collaboration then the cluster development model is one of the best model or you just draw up some service level agreement with each other. Alternatively you divide the space according to the square footage people wants and rent them the space with or without communal space.