Collision course: inside the evolution of Generator

The opening of the new Generator @ GridAKL, 12 Madden Street space in September was huge a moment of pride for the entire Generator team. But it was also symbolic of just how much the co-working business has changed in the seven years since the first Generator opened. CEO and founder Ryan Wilson explains some of those changes.

When Generator started its journey in 2010, the #coworking hashtag hadn’t yet been coined and it was more about refugees from the GFC seeking low-cost workspace options than it was for loftier reasons like ‘fostering innovation’.

Now, after years of dramatic growth by both the co-working industry and the success of the co-workers within (there are now reported to be one million co-workers worldwide), it isn’t just the reluctant home-bound tech contractor who is looking at shared space options. It is cities, states and economic development agencies of nations.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on so-called Innovation Precincts around the world as governments put their hopes in this new work format to help create dramatic growth outcomes. Generator is one of the key operators selected to be part of this revolution here in Auckland, but while we’re racing ahead at a huge pace ourselves, it is more necessary than ever to pause and consider what successful co-working environments are and what makes that success (and accelerated growth) occur.

New Zealand now has co-working businesses in every city and, in some cases, in many key suburbs within those cities. In most cases they’re following the basic formula that Generator started with: shared spaces, communal tables and desks, with a printer, wifi and coffee machine. 

But Generator has learned that innovation environments are more than a piece of real estate with a bunch of self-selected residents. It is the curation of the community, the services, the people and the subtleties of the space management that make the difference.

It was while watching the workshop by Generator resident members O2O2 Facewear at our recent Innovation Day that it struck me how far we’ve all come in this regard and how much more we can, and do, offer. O2O2 Facewear is on a mission to save the lives of millions of people who live and/or work in areas where pollution hazard is life threatening with incredible Perspex masks that not only clean the air you breathe, but can potentially report on health issues and so much more.

Hearing founders Ilya Vensky and Dan Bowden talking about their startup business, the product (which is still a prototype), its uses and its potential was illuminating, but the fact that they chose to hold nothing back was also inspirational.

Ryan Wilson.

The team believes in ‘open collaboration’, being completely open and inviting others to share in the vision for the company. And it is working for them. Part of that means working from Generator’s shared office space, not locking the team away behind closed doors and embracing the ‘collisions’; the chance meetings and conversations that you can only have in a shared working environment. 

When talking about collaboration, Bowden says it’s not thinking about ‘what is my share of the pie? It is how big the pie can be.’

“We can’t even grasp what the full benefit of what our product could be yet, so why limit it to the extent of our own ideas, when we can get there quickly with the right partners. True innovation comes from the collision of people and ideas and concepts. That’s where Generator comes in. Co-working is central to that.”

Well said Dan. We’re proud to have you as a resident at Generator.

To see all the co-working spaces and services Generator can offer, visit  

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