For solo entrepreneurs and small businesses, leasing an office isn't always within financial reach. But a new collaborative workspace launched this week in Wellington targets New Zealand’s creative workers, niche businesses and freelancers who want to work alongside like minds.
The BizDojo, in partnership with Grow Wellington, is home to a business, collaboration and support environment consisting of fully serviced co-working spaces and entrepreneurs.
Sven Pannell, who leads Grow Wellington’s support for the screen and digital sector, says the shared space concept is a projection of village living for the greater good in a 21st-century context.
“Working from home in your pyjamas, three feet from the television, or constantly surfing in coffee shops is a not a long-term solution for a lot of freelancers and small businesses,” he says.
“We know how hard it is for freelancers, contractors and independent workers to feel like they are connected and part of a community. The BizDojo provides that and more.”
He says the building will be a "new engine room for creative industries" in Wellington.
Based on Vivian St in Te Aro, it has capacity for 50 residents.
Community manager Inas Duvnjak says its 12 residents so far heard about its facilities by word of mouth or through social media, with new enquiries being made daily.
She says people are moving away from a personal ownership and towards sharing resources, and away from working for "lifeless corporations".
"Coworking spaces are growing in popularity as they align with both these trends. They are filled with people who share similar values and are on similar paths."
As well as sharing the cost of a flash coffee machine, wifi, meeting rooms and social areas with a neighbour, BizDojo residents belong to a national network of businesses seeking to support and learn from each other. Grow Wellington, a regional council-funded economic development agency, provides advice to startups on early-stage growth advice, training, and funding.
BizDojo members are also entitled to space in the Auckland branch, located on K Road in the Ironbank building.
Pannell says professionals in the capital often need to travel to see customers and suppliers in Auckland.
“Now they can have a national presence for a fraction of the typical cost."
According to BizDojo cofounder Jonah Merchant, connecting knowledge and networks will be key to success in the business environment of the future.
"Coworking provides an environment where resources can be shared effectively, and companies can build valuable cross-business networks and relationships.
"This social capital will be critical in the future as businesses will be required to combine assets and resources in ever more unusual and creative ways, in order to compete globally and fuel their growth."