The Case For Office Space
Entrepreneur|December 2015

One size doesn't fit all when finding digs for your startup. Here's a look at some of the option.

Paula Andruss

When Gary Darna and Jaime Rump secured $650,000 in seed funding for CompleteSet, the online collectibles marketplace they founded in 2012, they were happily operating in a co-working space provided by Cincinnati startup catalyst Cintrifuse. But the pair soon realized that the growth sparked by that cash would require a move to something bigger.

“We went from two people to almost 10 in about two months, and it became clear we needed our own office space,” Darna says. “We had too many people to make a co-working space economically viable, and we had vintage toys, board games and displays all over the place and didn’t want them getting in other people’s way. So we took the leap and got our own space.”

It’s a familiar scenario to many startups: The first months (or even years) are often executed from the couch, basement or kitchen table. But as the business grows, it’s time to move—and where you go is important. Your location can affect your company’s productivity, creativity and community, not to mention budget. Insiders agree that choosing the right environment depends on the work that’s being done and the people who are doing it. Before you commit, consider the pros and cons of four kinds of workspaces.

Co-Working Space

One of the first places startups turn to when looking for a “real” office (i.e., not the living room) is a co-working space shared by other small businesses. While co-working was no longer an option for Darna, many find that working in shared space has distinct advantages. Don Lam, managing director of the Bay Area region for IA Interior Architects, says it’s a great way to spark community and innovation among startups.

“Most startups don’t have culture and community yet, so they can go into a facility and instantly become part of a community and make connections with other young workers,” Lam says. “And when they’re immersed in that noise and activity, they can benefit from synergy and new ideas that arise from chance conversations from around the room.”

That’s just what Scott Barron found while operating in a co-working space. “Listening to what other people are doing can spark an idea or conversation, and other opportunities can arise as well,” says the CEO of Alpharetta, Ga.-based School Growth, which provides professional development programming for schools and school boards.

Barron once discovered he shared a client with someone across the room, which allowed them to combine efforts for the benefit of both startups as well as the client. Another time, a fellow group from the co-working space helped Barron solve a problem that they had already dealt with. “That completely short-circuited our learning curve,” he says.

But co-working spaces don’t work for everyone. Susan Tynan, founder and CEO of Framebridge, an online framing company based in Lanham, Md., set up her team of five at a co-working space when she launched in 2014 but realized almost immediately it was not right for the daily operations of her business.

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