Follow Up to B2B Serendipity
I wanted to follow up to our last blog post about how SpaceFindr can facilitate finding B2B Serendipity and do a blog post about things to worry about when sharing office space. Rieva Lesonsky over at ReadWriteWeb has a good article on 6 things to worry about when sharing office space. Below I’ll comment on the 6 main points Losensky pointed to:
1. Clarify expectations - I can not agree more that paying for office space sets the right tone. While small businesses would love to find a way to cut costs and bartering can be an option, paying for office space sets the right expectations for both sides. However, the best reason to pay, in my opinion, is because paying makes you actually work a little harder and stay focused. When money is on the line, there is no option to do nothing, its an investment and you should make it profitable.
2. Consider the culture - Understanding what type of company you will spend time with is very helpful. If you want a quiet place, you should look for private office space with more “formal” companies like law firms and CPAs. If you are looking for space to get the creative juices going, maybe share a desk with a architectural firm or a marketing/web development firm. Also, dress code is an important aspect to this, sometimes wearing a suit and tie isn’t for everyone.
3. Could you be competitive? - While it sounds like fun to work around companies and professionals doing the same thing and dreaming of collaborative projects, there is a competitive threat both parties should consider. I think finding office sharing partners that are complementary will probably serve each side better. Law firms might consider CPAs and Venture Capitalist, another attorney with a different type of focus could also be complementary.
4. Check the details - The last thing you want is to get to a space and it doesn’t work for your needs, it really is just a waste of time! Pictures, descriptions, etc… are helpful. A great way we think is to just ask! We have a really simple messaging system that allows both parties to communicate.
5. Draw up a lease - For long term sub leases, like 1 year onward, you should have something formal in place. For shorter term uses, a month and under, we think a simple use agreement helps cover the major things that could happen (Disclaimer: this is not a legal opinion, please check with your counsel if you have questions).
6. Be respectful - Being a good host and a good guest is what makes office sharing work. The terms, host and guest, is very key to our community and we think it specifically dictates how people should act, be a great host and a gracious guest.
While there are many things to look out for, I think Lesonsky did a great job in outlining some major things to watch out for when sharing space.
Happy Cinco De Mayo.
Finding Serendipity in the B2B Context
There has been a lot of chatter on blogs and tech sites lately about finding serendipity in the connected world we live in. Lots of cool apps like Twitter, WhosHere, and Highlight and some creepy ones like Girls Around Me. These apps allow us to go beyond our personal network Facebook to meet new people and hopefully find serendipity.
I’ve been looking for some sort of app that could address serendipity in the B2B context. For B2B, serendipity is generally found at networking events, like Meetups and Conferences. Recently, more interesting apps have popped up including sites like ohours.org and letslunch.com. Both are interesting sites and hopefully can provide some serendipitous encounters for business professionals.
At SpaceFindr, we believe our platform could help build B2B serendipity. Having entrepreneurs and business professionals share office space can lead to things like: reinvigorating the company culture, sparking collaborative projects, new ideas, and new talent. Couple articles you can read to learn more include here and here. Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh is supporting this serendipity movement by developing a coworking space and encouraging employees to work out of it. Plantronic’s VP of Software Development, Shantanu Sarkar, uses coworking spaces to be closer to potential customers.
Now sure if sharing space is right for you? Try working at a coworking space for a day. Here are some below that can help you get started:
DC Area: Connect113 (Disclaimer: Going to SpaceFindr site)
Baltimore: Capital Studios (Disclaimer: Going to SpaceFindr site)
West Coast: NextSpace
Don’t forget today is International Pay It Forward Day, so please enter our contest to help a Kiva Entreprener. One Tweet = Big Difference. Enter here: http://bit.ly/HdU6Fn
One Tweet can make a BIG difference
When starting SpaceFindr, one of our goals was to be a helpful solution to entrepreneurs. Whether that’s the entrepreneur that made the investment in opening up a great office space or the new startup that has decided to leave that big company to embark on the entrepreneurial journey. While we can all work at the local coffee shop, we all know the impact of having a meeting room for employee meetings, a conference room to present to the big client, or just a cube to really focus on the task at hand. We hope entrepreneurs who have office spaces will open up their unused spaces to those entrepreneurs just getting started. While you might not have unused office spaces right now, another way to support entrepreneurs is by entering our Kiva contest. All you have to do is tweet out a simple message. Details here: http://bit.ly/HdU6Fn
If you are not familiar with Kiva, it is a non-profit organization with a mission to “connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.” Over 760,000 entrepreneurs have received over $300,000,000 in loans! These loans empower entrepreneurs to grow their business by purchasing equipment and improving their services. (Check out more metrics here: http://www.kiva.org/about/stats). One of the things we absolutely love about Kiva is that your loan to an entrepreneur is expected to be repaid back and that you can use it to provide another entrepreneur a loan.
Take a chance to read some of the interesting entrepreneur stories on Kiva.org (http://www.kiva.org/press/entrepreneurs). Truphena (http://www.kiva.org/lend/123118), pictured below, borrowed $650 to purchase more cosmetics and sanitary products for cusotmers in Mikindani, Mombasa, Kenya. Pretty amazing how small loans from 23 lenders allowed Truphena to build a business that would support her family and help people in Mikindani get things they want and need. Help an entrepreneur like Truphena by entering our Kiva contest and you can win 1 of 4 Kiva cards. You can empower entrepreneurs around the world with this small loan.
So how can you support this cause? Enter our Twitter contest to provide a hand up to an entrepreneur! One tweet from you can make a big difference for another entrepreneur. Click here to enter: http://bit.ly/HdU6Fn
To learn more about Microfinance and Kiva, please visit www.kiva.org. They are a great organization!
Great article about making coworking spaces more profitable
Read a nice article that provided tips to coworking space owners. Check it out here: http://bit.ly/uDY8BI. I especially like the following tips: free beer, renting space to outsiders, working with headhunters or hr personnel of big companies. Take a look if you own a coworking space.
Saw a very interesting app the other day called 4sqWifi (http://bit.ly/s4vDxk). Very interesting use of wifi data from foursquare. I tried it out and its still a bit spotty here in the DC area, but a very interesting resource for those on the go. Check it out.
Building Entrepreneurial Communities
Was recently reading/watching Brad Feld’s blog post about entrepreneurial communities (http://bit.ly/rGAxiu). Its a great post about some of the catalysts needed to build a real community and some pitfalls. The key point to the post is that local entrepreneurs need to step up to the plate and build and lead their local own communities.
We agree that communities are driven and succeed based on its members. As Brad discussed, “feeders” are helpful and can help nurture the community, but entrepreneurs need to drive the agenda and attract, retain, and develop entrepreneurs in their own community and region.
We hope that SpaceFindr can help facilitate the growth of entrepreneurial communities.
We are a marketplace that allows users to discover and rent open workspaces when and wherever they need it. We empower space owners to turn unproductive space into extra income while keeping flexibility for future growth. Visit www.spacefindr.com