This week Boulder Bits is moving into our new office space. We are very appreciative to Galvanize, who hosted our fledgling studio for nearly a year. Now that we’re on the brink of founding our third startup – Cubspot – it is time to have our own space. There are tons of trends for startup spaces. It can be challenging to figure out what is a fad, and what actually makes a difference.
There are all sorts of claims that bold colors and open spaces promote creativity. At the same time, some of the most creative startups spawn out of garages and basements. Ultimately, the physical space should suit the culture and values of the organization. At Boulder Bits, our four top values are People Empowerment, Trust and Transparency, Creative Genius and Regional Benefit. As a result, the space we chose and the space we’re continuing to transform match these values.
Value – People Empowerment:
At Boulder Bits our goal is to support twelve founders a year. That’s four startups with three awesome co-founders each. Empowering the entrepreneurs to empower their teams is at the core of what we do. As we envisioned the space, we didn’t focus on fancy décor or ultra-modern aesthetics. We asked the question, “What would empower our entrepreneurs the most?”
Of all the things we could fill our space with, the absolute most important for people empowerment is other amazing people. We can’t just fill the space with anyone. We’ve already occupied a co-working space where random co-workers can be either wonderful or quite disruptive. From that experience we learned that mentoring – both formal and informal – is invaluable for our co-founders. Rather than just having “mentor hours” once a week, which are common for many incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces, we wanted to ratchet the mentoring opportunities to the next level.
We’re experimenting with “mentor desks.” Our mentors are free to occupy one of our desks any time they want. They can stop in for an hour, a day, a week, or even occupy their desk full time for years. These desks are interspersed with our teams. They have monitors, storage, and some are even sit-stand. Our hypothesis is that if the mentors overhear our teams, they can step in when they’re needed, not after the fact. A two-minute conversation can correct an error mid-stream that would take hours of discourse to fix later on. An introduction to the right partner at the right time can rocket a team to success.
Not only can our mentors take a desk, they can benefit from the whole environment. Our mentors can use our conference rooms, phone booths and lounges and beer tap – not yet assembled. But most importantly, mentors have access to other mentors. While interviewing mentors on what they like, we found that meeting and learning from other mentors is at the top of their wish list. At Boulder Bits, our long-term and short-term mentors will have a space in which to meet and help each other level up.
Value – Trust and Transparency
In our ecosystem, we promote open collaboration in small groups and across groups. This is achieved with a mixed open and closed floor plan. The more eyes that are on a problem, the better. By sharing our challenges and weaknesses, we become stronger as a whole. Most of the work is done in wide-open spaces. There are plenty of conference rooms to have one-on-one or group conversations. Our mentors – some of whom are angel investors – just add to this sense of trust and transparency.
Value – Creative Genius
The latest research is starting to show that a single environment is not best for creativity, but many different environments. Sure there are certain physical environments that hinder creativity. I’m imagining a 1930’s Russian gulag. But, the more important factors in creativity are the people and the culture. With a mixed space – desks, couches, conference rooms, phone booths and decks – we pretty much cover the gamut. We also have an area that is intended to be a quiet zone so that introverts like me can get breaks for uninterrupted concentration. Because there is no one environment that helps with creativity for all people and all groups, we try to vary it up.
Value – Regional Benefit
Boulder Bits aims to mirror the best of Colorado and give first. We focus our give-first mentality on entrepreneurs and game changers, who provide so much to our local economy and community. For example, Boulder Bits is a proud sponsor of Women Who Startup and the Founder’s Fights – a charity event. We haven’t had time yet to give with our new space, but we intend to. Our first give is to the mentors, who give so much already. Our second way we can give first is by hosting Science Galaxy, a non-profit aimed at creating a science and tech museum here in Boulder. We are looking for more opportunities to give first with our space. If you have any ideas, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
We encourage entrepreneurs to stop by and see us. Until then, …
- There’s a lot of speculation on what makes the best working office space, here’s 25 of the coolest office spaces from the 100 best companies via Fortune.com
- Learn how to build a collaborative office space like Google and Pixar with Adam Atler–> LINK
Author: Jesse Lawrence
Founder and CEO of @Boulder_Bits also a Sci-fi lover, game theory strategist, and idea generator