First Hand Advice

When Is It Time to ‘Graduate’ From Co-Working to Your Own Office??

seatgeek When Is It Time to Graduate From Co Working to Your Own Office??

SeatGeek's Space at General Assembly, image by Dan Frommer

This is a guest post from SeatGeek co-founder Russell D’Souza.

Prior to moving offices in early June, SeatGeek worked first out of Soho Haven (now Projective Space) and then at General Assembly, two shared office spaces in New York. In the early days of SeatGeek, shared office space was a complete no-brainer, but what was much less clear was when to “graduate” to our own office space. Since many startups have been asking us about this of late, I thought we’d break down some of the criteria we evaluated when making this decision.

Cost

Here in New York, there are a bunch of different pricing structures for shared office space. Some places charge by the desk, others have a membership fee, and others charge for larger, multi-user tables. In almost all cases, shared office space for a tiny startup is far cheaper than a short-term lease. However, at about 12 employees, a dedicated lease became comparable to the cost of upscale shared space like General Assembly.

Company culture

The most successful startups have a distinctive culture. As you can tell by our company name, we’re pretty into data and we have a particular obsession about our company’s performance metrics. In fact, you can’t turn a corner in our office without seeing a poster or television screen displaying PR scores, server response time, or traffic. In a communal office space, we couldn’t share this level of sensitive detail since we had no control over who comes through the door. Since moving office space, we could be more transparent about SeatGeek’s metrics to everyone’s benefit.

Flexibility in growth

Shared office spaces often cap the size of individual teams to prevent exposure to one large tenant. We were nervous that this cap could have a subconscious effect on how we approached growth. We’re always looking to hire talented folks and never want to limit our aspirations based on office space limitations. Our new office can fit over twenty people comfortably. We’re a little over half that today but it’s reassuring that we can scale up quickly.

Dedicated amenities

Shared office space means sharing amenities like the fridge and cabinets. As a result, it’s infeasible to have a full suite of food and drinks options for your team, which means that folks waste time and money purchasing lunches and snacks at the nearest deli. At SeatGeek HQ our pantry and fridge is always stocked and this yields a happier and more productive team.

Given all the positives of our own space, why do I say that shared office space is a no-brainer for most early-stage companies? Shared office spaces take care of administrative hassles like hiring cleaners and purchasing office furniture, allowing early-stage startups to focus on building a product and getting traction. Importantly, shared office spaces offer an immediate network of entrepreneurs. We’ve done partnerships with neighboring startups, gotten product feedback, and received key introductions to investors. There’s a deep camaraderie you build with neighboring startups and some of my closest friends in the startup community have come because we worked a few feet away.

It was certainly tough to sever our immediate connection with other startups when we moved to our office. However, by the time we left, we had a strong network in New York’s tech scene and it didn’t feel as if staying in a shared office space was worth compromising on the benefits listed above. For those interested in checking out our new space or if you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to us directly at hi@seatgeek.com.

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