Over the last few years, Avinasha and I have worked out of several co-working spaces, offices and coffee shops in India, Chile, Vietnam and Singapore. And we both felt that the difference in productivity and happiness working in a well designed space and a not so well designed one can be huge.
We also noticed that every country felt different when it came to using spaces. For example, in Vietnam you can work out of almost any coffee shop and there are new ones opening up every month. Between a good home setup and coffee shops you can get a lot of work done. However in a country like India, it’s hard to rely on public spaces - they are not designed to be work friendly. I felt the same way about Chile as well, with the notable exception of public libraries there. Avinasha also found a few cafes in Valparaiso work friendly.
Now that most of our team is in Bangalore we felt that it would be great for us to operate and control a space of our own. A few weeks back we signed the contract for a place and when we started designing our space, we borrowed a ton of ideas from some spaces around the world that we love. This blog post is to acknowledge and thank them for their contributions to our environment. Here are some notable ones
Movistar Innova in Santiago Chile
If you are accepted into Startup Chile, you’ll be working out of this office. Housed in an old building, it features high ceilings and big windows and bright sun light. Rock solid Wifi, plenty of power points and small lamps on every desk make this a very work friendly environment. The other great thing about this office was the hangout hall used for meetups/informal discussions. Having different spaces meant that you were more likely to get up and talk to someone. There was coffee available all through the day and croissants served twice a day (a big event that everyone looked forward to!).
My biggest takeaway from this office was to keep desks floating and avoid fixed desks. It makes things a lot more interesting.
Microsoft Accelerator’s Space
Microsoft R&D has one of the most amazing offices that I have been to. Located on Lavelle Road in Bangalore, this office houses Microsoft Ventures, and we worked from this space for four months after being accepted into the 2nd batch of their accelerator program.
Apart from being a well designed space this place has it’s culture right down to the guards manning the gates. Despite it being in India, Microsoft has somehow gotten together a team of people that are genuinely warm and caring when it comes to treating employees well. Any complaint or issues are addressed quickly and swiftly. You can walk in and out of the place anytime and you will always be greeted with a smile. If you are not from India, this might not look like a big deal trust me, it is! This was the biggest takeaway for me at the end of my stay here - to get your culture right, you need buy in from everyone involved in running your company, not just the people writing the software.
SaigonHub in Ho Chi Minh City is one of the first large scale co-working spaces in Vietnam. Since it’s run by a good friend of mine, Chris Zobrist, I had the unique experience of not only using the space but also seeing some of the work that goes into running it. I actually ended up managing the wifi network for this place for a few months and it gave me a good idea of how hard the job of running large scale wifi is (well let's just say you won't see me complain about bad wifi at an event!).
SaigonHub has some unique features that make it a very cool space to work from. Apart from the co-working area, the space features a phone booth for making calls and a bar counter for people to chill out at. The bar counter is where the cross pollination of ideas between the startups takes place.
Coffee Shops: MoF & L’usine
Probably because of the French influence, Saigon is the city of beautiful coffee shops. Two places in particular stand out for their design - L’usine (http://www.lusinespace.com/) and Ministry of Food, also known as MoF (http://www.mof.com.vn/en/our-stores/kumho-asian-plaza.html). In particular, they feature great lights, nice table designs and ofcourse good coffee and food. Here is a picture of our team on the eve of our launch!
Aplopio (RecruiterBox) Office
We are currently working out of the Aplopio’s office. This is one of the best startup offices in Bangalore - very spacious, brightly sun lit and located in a very quiet neighborhood. However the best feature of this space is the home cooked food served through the day. If food is essential to people’s productivity, Aplopio has it nailed down. We are borrowing this idea from them and running a full kitchen at our office from day one!
We are currently working on setting up our space and hope to move in by next week. It should be fully operational by the end of the month. Some great spaces have inspired us and we hope to become a creative hub in Bangalore. We’ll share more details about our space in the next blog post. In the meantime, here are some pictures from the work in progress.