In the first of a short series, I wanted to talk about the elements that currently come together to build our company culture. It’s an ongoing experiment, as with most things we do, so I wanted to share what we’ve learnt so far.
Choosing the base for your startup will almost certainly be driven by cost, and quite rightly so. Whilst it might be tempting to take that shiny desk in Shoreditch in a serviced office with free beers, you might need to ask yourself whether it’s entirely necessary.
Whilst a location in an established tech hub might seem too good to turn down, other options may make more sense in the short term. In London, rising rents have meant that many workers now live further out of town, making locations outside of the centre more attractive to many.
In our case, many of the team are in south London, which has meant that our slightly less traditional location in Elephant and Castle is an easier commute.
And as long as you’re able to reach your partners, clients and other agencies, the working day isn’t necessarily an issue. In fact, somewhere like Elephant and Castle is actually better connected than some of the other technology hubs.
Everybody needs good neighbours, or so the song goes. We’re incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by other startup businesses in the Artworks, many of whom are seeking to establish themselves and taking permanent premises for the first time - especially in the case of the food retailers downstairs, who have often started as street food vendors.
It’s useful to be around others who are in the same position - trying to achieve growth and establish themselves in their industries. The recommendations and networking are always likely to be more appropriate, and it feels great to be making a contribution to your local area.
A degree of flexibility in your space is also desirable, and could move up to essential if you’re constantly running workshops and whiteboarding, as we do. We’ve been fortunate that our private space allows us to run a user feedback lab one day, and then provide hot desks for our partners the next. At the Artworks there’s even the added bonus of a nice space to rent to throw a party downstairs.
Another key consideration is how to accommodate your business's expansion. Whilst this goes down on the list of good problems to have, it’s a problem nonetheless. And just like hiring, which we’ll cover in another post, it’s a potentially expensive issue to deal with too.
Shared offices like WeWork and Huckletree will give you the flexibility of short notice periods and private spaces to grow into, but come at a premium. We’re very fortunate to have been able to expand into a couple of units at the Artworks - giving us more room without breaking the bank.
It pays to think outside of the box when looking for your first office space, and to do some digging into your potential new home before you take the plunge. As with most things in life and startups, if it looks too good to be true then it probably is.