Since March 2014 we realised it was the time to start looking for a better and renovated workspace. The necessity was evident, and the team was growing faster so we needed a place where everyone could work pleasantly and have the exercises with our clients to define the best way possible the products we build together.
The story behind
We started 2 years ago in an incubator where we shared furniture, office spaces, cafeteria and other things with many companies. We cannot regret about this opportunity because starting there let us start in a solid way delivering our first projects without any cost at all on infrastructure. Nevertheless the experience wasn't the best, and you can find more about this here. 6 months later we moved to a house we called Startup House and some of us started living there. It was like the startup dream translated from Silicon Valley to LaTam. It wasn't the best place to work, there were walls covering the light and problems trying to merge both scenarios: workspace and home.
Finally, 8 months later we moved to a commercial spot. We were beside a laundry, veterinary, a drinks spot, a shirt printing place, a visa documents delivery and a massage company. This place was used as beauty shop on the past, so the funny thing is that we were developing digital products while on the outside some stickers with the words "nails" and "beauty" were pasted.
We knew this was for a moment, so we started looking for something better. More space, more freedom. We couldn't handle our growth so we decided to make a change, coincidentally matching with our second anniversary as a company.
A concierge search for options
The adventure started. We fill a card on trello with the basic information we were expecting to find in the new right place to work based on our previous experiences. Then, if someone found a good prospect place, we shared pictures and info on the comments section.
Our main amenities lists was this:
- >= 150 m2.
- Stick to our budget.
- Ready to plug and work.
- With a variety of places to eat around.
- Enough space for client meetings.
- Enough space for one-on-one talks/calls.
- Enough space for relax -- video games, music, drinks, naps.
- Parking lots for full-time team members.
- Windows for natural light and with a great view.
- Accesible via public transportation.
All the search at this point was done by ourselves, until we found a friend of us, Rodrigo Guerra, who was involved in the real state industry. So we divided efforts looking for the right place, always considering the amenities list. To be honest we felt comfortable finding a great guy supporting us in this process, and we started to see more and more options to choose from. By the way, Rodrigo is not only a brocker, but also a musician and a confident person to trust; anybody looking for a place to rent at least in Monterrey, Mexico, should contact him for this heavy duty.
Discarding possibilities and analysing the options available, we were very close to the one we though were going to be our new office: Micrópolis. Totally new branded place, commercial spots, flawless view and a great location close to the main universities where most of the team have came from. But shit happens, and the proposal was not accepted by us. Going through a bunch of fake proposals and false statements, we threw out 2 months of negotiations to the thrashcan thanks to the sales representative inside the building. One of the biggest problems we had since the beginning, is that we didn't have any available budget or money to invest in the new space, everything was supposed to come from the furniture we already purchased along the company's life. In this place, they offered us an allowance plan where we could cover the initial investment on the workspace to transform it into a usable and functional place with electricity, water and basic services. This plan was very ambitious, but didn't happened. The salesperson was unqualified for the job, over-selling a plan that will never happen. When the building board of directors, the people who really could take decisions, saw the proposal the starting point of $ 210 MXN per m2, raised until $ 290 MXN. Making the sum and considering additional services, the final monthly amount was 100% out of our estimated budget.
We ended the negotiation for the best of both parties. We couldn't keep the search the same, so we created a group on Facebook and did some validations and information acquisition about other places that were outside of our sight. The participation was interesting, about 50 members where inside the group in less than 24 hours, and more than 10 different workspaces where posted with their details.
No more time to waste, we gave ourselves 1 more month to have other bunch of options and choose the right one. Funny thing after the previous issue is that we ended up with 2 great places. Osvaldo found a place in Barrio Antiguo area and Kuri found a place on Guadalupe. Now the decision needed to be taken.
Choosing the right workplace
Both places where a good fit for us. 70% of amenities were covered by both places. This wash't enough, so we generated a few more questions to get in deep and analyse the functionality of the workspace in a real context. A group of questions we used to benchmark were:
- Are there enough parking lots for friends/guests in case of organizing an event or having open office?
- Are there a limit for guests to invite into our office?
- Where can we arrange our tertulias and tech talks?
- What happens if we want to grow the team, therefore the workspace?
- Is the workspace spacious? Wide and High.
- What are the advantages of the contract and formalities with the building? On some places the contract was for at least 3 to 5 years. We wanted to find something more flexible with less legal constrains.
- Is it possible to work 24/7? We love to do what we do :)
Even answering these questions, I wanted to have another point of view, so I decided to include 2 team members in the decision of the best workplace for us. Both Ana and Lentes are founding team members of the company and have lived the entire journey with my partner and myself; they have outlasted even more than ex-forming partners. I really believed they could give important input on behalf of the team, aligning their thoughts and perspectives for the best of the company having values and objectives before everything else.
The team talked, and decided. We chose the Paseo Santa Lucia Building on Barrio Antiguo.
Reinforcing our decision, why this place?
So, why did we decide to select this place among any other? What are the conditions letting this place to be the right one for our team?
We can develop our passions, not only a daily work.
Our workspace has a great view, source of inspiration for any creative individual. The office is located literally on downtown, so we have found a lot of food places, coffee shops, restaurants, bars to hang around after a busy day, even places with live music for thursday or friday night, complementing our worskapce. This definitely give us freedom. Freedom to administrate our time, our activities and our creative sources to build the type of products we build.
Demands commitment and responsability from the entire team.
This last quarter we stablished new objetives to start generating, in our possibilities, only american leads. Our actual clients from US require from ourselves to push forward our capabilities, improve our processes and change for the better the things we have been doing on the last years with little or local clients. They really don't care about the place we are located, what they really care is about the quality and deadlines on a product; even we use a decent amount of tools to keep constant communication this place should demand from us more responsability in everything we do to sustain a smooth operation.
We needed a worthy place to receive anyone: clients, providers, community.
Last offices were a little bit of a problem to have special sessions with clients, to have a call with a client, or to arrange a big meetup. We were looking for a place already distributed to handle this type of situations. We wanted a place where all people related to this company feel comfortable and don't have any problem to really add the value needed with our services. We wanted a place to feel free to create, share and learn.
If a huge and admirable tech company were looking to move into Mexico, what kind of place will they choose?
We need to benchmark with the big players. Kuri and me wanted to build something admirable in terms of workspace 4 or 5 years ago, when the first conversations happened about starting a company. We need to start building it now. We see pictures everyday of built to last tech companies, and the real fact is workspace really matters. If we weren't able to choose for this space, it would take more time to push growth within the company.
We are now working on the interior design of our space, analysing all possibilities and ready to invest on enhancing the experience of being working on the iconic place we want.
This journey is not finished yet, but we are enjoying going through it.