You graduated from your Post Apartment, to Octane and finally from Atlanta Tech Village. After securing funding and hiring a stellar core team, your business is finally spreading its wings and ready to fly. You have a base of strong customers and are beginning to grow adoption at a UPS or Equifax and it is time for an aggressive expansion plan. Just one problem – you need more space.
Leasing your first private office is a significant step in the life of a growing startup. For many entrepreneurs, a private office is the pinnacle of the workspace dream – a place where their vision, the purpose and culture they built from scratch, has an established place in the world.
So what should you look for in your first office space? The perfect workplace really depends on your company culture, size, growth trajectory, recruiting needs, along with a litany of other variables. But what can we learn from the prevalent trends in the Atlanta startup community?
GLASS IS KING
Open layouts have never been more en vogue as they foster collaboration, break down hierarchy, and focus more on company culture and less on individual silos. While the “no cubicle” design is certainly attractive to millennials, not everyone is on board with bringing down the dividers. During the expansion phase, many companies are growing their sales teams, which means they are hammering the phones and noise becomes a problem. The compromise? Glass. Using glass provides the necessary privacy to focus without distractions while feeling open and free.
Perhaps you and/or your team’s culture are not ready for the trophy tower suite. Brick-and-beam conversions have become a trendy option for growing startups looking to “think outside the box” and define themselves against the status quo. However, with the race for space in this product type, vacancy is down and prices are rising well above historic averages. The good news about growth in the overall tech market is that other firms are growing too. Growth from similar companies means they are being forced to leave behind cool space as they look for their next office. Subleases with the right kind of buildout and furniture can be well worth having to deal the traditional building exterior on the walk in from the parking lot.
KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS
One of the primary advantages of co-working spaces like ATV for early-stage startups is the immediate network. Though you may have outgrown sharing your work area, you don’t need to sacrifice surrounding yourself with like-minded businesses, services, and colleagues. Compatible companies tend to cluster in certain markets, and outliers often suffer from isolation in their industry – especially if the business is young. Balance things like cost and current commute concerns with the non-real estate benefits of recruitment, new business potential and brand that come along with buildings like Ponce City Market. That doesn’t by any means suggest you should be paying top-of-market rates, but find ways to get close to areas of influence like the Beltline. You’ll benefit from a better talent pool, more efficient operations, and continuous inspiration in a competitive and collegial environment. Find your friends – it’s worth the price of admission.
Lawrence Gellerstedt is a member of C&W Atlanta’s office tenant advisory practice, and is one of the leaders of the office’s Startup Team. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.