5 Tips for Finding Your Startup the Perfect Office

January 12, 2012

January 12, 2012

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Late last year, we decided it was time to find ourselves a real office. This was a big step in the annals of FeeFighters, because we’d never had our own office…we just shared coworking space or worked from home. So, Sheel and I started our Epic Office Search. Here’s what I learned:1) Make a list of specific dealbreakers for the team– Almost midway through the search, we realized different members of the team had different expectations about location, size, and other basics. We decided to sit down and make a short list that would serve as a filter for potential spaces. Here’s what it looked like:a) Must be dog friendly. Tuesday, our ninja dog, had to report to work everyday.b) Set geographical borders of where the office must be.c) Must have short term lease. We would not sign a lease longer than 1 year…we are a startup of course.d) Must have two conference rooms and meet our budget for rent.After we set these filters, we were much better able to qualify which spaces we should see.2) Don’t rely on a single broker-Startups seem to be an enticing niche for some brokers who hope to get in with companies when they are small, form relationships, and be there as they grow. At first, I worked with a single broker who came highly recommended for placing startup companies. He was really nice and was intent on forming a “relationship” with me. I was more intent on finding my startup the perfect office as quickly and cheaply as possible. Though I felt bad calling up other brokers, I could soon see that the results they were getting all differed. Two heads are better than one…and three heads…well, you get the idea.

Sheel and Marc in our own freight elevator at FF HQ.

3) Do your own research-After getting results from brokers, I walked around the neighborhood we had chosen and just randomly called up buildings that had numbers “For Lease” on them. I ended up seeing properties that had not shown up in MLS searches or personal online searches. I pressed the multiple brokers I talked to for details on the neighborhood and asked them the same questions (often with different answers). This didn’t even take that much time…just about an hour to walk around and maybe another hour of following up to see properties I found. One property I found was significantly cheaper than our budget (not to mention about 40% cheaper than surrounding similar real estate) and was the ideal location…it wasn’t listed anywhere, just a phone number on a wall.4) Don’t believe what brokers tell you- As I mentioned, different brokers told me different things. Some said I would not be able to find a place that fit our budget. Some said there were few dog friendly buildings in the neighborhood. Most said that our neighborhood required a long term lease and no one would give us such short tenure. From each person with whom I spoke, I got a piece to solve the puzzle of finding our office. At the end of the day, I found three different properties that fulfilled all of our criteria.5) Don’t involve everyone in the search- Sheel and I primarily did all of our searching within two weeks. Personally, I saw more than 20 properties in 4 days. We only involved the team initially when we made the guidelines for the search, and then at the end when we were choosing between the two winning properties. Since the office search was not a priority, and our developers were working hard on getting Samurai out of beta, it was much better for the company for just one or two people to take the lead and take care of things. With limited resources on deck, we didn’t really discuss the details of our search since it was a distraction from real work that needed to be done.At the end of the day, we found the perfect office, in the perfect location, at the perfect price. FeeFighters HQ has awesome energy, lots of pizza boxes, and is the perfect starting ground for a 2012 filled with possibility. Stop on by when you have a chance…

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