Biz Dojo’s growing environment
Welcome to the Biz Dojo, where karate chops are banned but big ideas are encouraged.
It is a shared office space aimed at small businesses getting off the ground in the entertainment and creative fields.
The first Biz Dojo was established in Auckland and last year, in partnership with Grow Wellington, a second one was opened in Wellington.
Tenants are required to commit to the Biz Dojo for three months, either on a full-time, part-time or occasional basis. The Biz Dojo provides everything else.
‘‘It’s very transparent, we cover everything. They just turn up with their laptop,’’ said co-founder Nick Shewring. ‘‘The goal is to provide a space where graduates can come through and can work with other residents and go on to something that can be a successful company.’’
The company provides a fullyserviced office space, with desks, high-speed broadband, meeting rooms, projectors and most important of all, a very impressive coffee machine.
It allows the one-person startup company to move up from their home or cafe operating environment, Mr Shewring said.
People starting out with a clever business idea can find themselves working very much alone, with no one to bounce ideas off or just to pass the time of day with.
‘‘There’s that awesome autonomy, but the downside of autonomy is isolation.’’
The Biz Dojo allows people to do their own thing in a social environment. Sarah Martin is one tenant. Employed as the sole worker of Low Flying Kiwis, (those who fly under the radar) she researches the feasibility of the business ideas of a group of three business men, Peter Cullinane, formerly of Saatchi & Saatchi, former Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton, and Maui Campervan founder Chris Alpe.
‘‘I have to translate these ideas into something that might work.’’
Ms Martin is cagey about what exactly those ideas are, but more forthcoming about where she had come from. She had spent several months based in Wellington Central Library with her laptop, where she befriended many of the homeless community.
That’s a typical progression, Mr Shewring said.
Start up companies may have begun as one person working from home, or in the Creative HQ, and moved up to the Biz Dojo when they reached two or three employees.
The average age of the clientele is 38, and tenants are selected on the basis of how well they can fill a need among existing Biz Dojo businesses.
‘‘ These guys are all experienced,’’ said Mr Shewring. ‘‘They don’t need someone pushing them. They need someone in their corner.’’
A successful outcome for the Biz Dojo is a business that outgrows it and moves out, he said.
‘‘90 Seconds TV: They have just graduated from us. They tested the Auckland market with one person, one day a week. They left us with 10 full-time staff and 40 contractors, world-wide.
‘‘ We can’t take credit, other than for providing them with an environment with no commitment.’’
The most important factor in the whole equation is the community manager, he said.
Filling that role is Katherine Field, who managed the councilowned Toi Poneke Art Centre. She said the two roles are not so different, both providing creative people with the things they need to succeed.
Among her tasks is arranging regular social functions to allow the clientele to mingle and network in a social environment.
Business commune: Wellington Biz Dojo community manager Katherine Field with co-founder Nick Shewring and some of their clientele.