Biz Dojo’s grow­ing en­vi­ron­ment

Kapi-Mana News - - BUSINESS - By JIM CHIPP

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.

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