There’s a recent article that several people have forwarded to me given that it rings true to what I am talking about around the Tech Ranch Austin all of the time… Called Getting your startup out of Starbucks, James Reinhart has a point that he’s singing to the choir (me) about.
The whole point here about this idea is that although certain entrepreneurs might be able to be successful in working out of coffee shops 100% of the time, I’ve seen a need that for tech entrepreneurs that are building companies (not just freelancer businesses) need a dojo / community of practice / incubator to really make things happen fast in their businesses. Working in at a coffee shop alone (or just working out of their houses) limits what’s possible for the company.
I am going to take my own spin at James’ list of four points, and add three that I see a specific spin at around the Tech Ranch Austin.
1. Not as productive. Distractions abound in a coffeeshop or at home. Either way, if you are constantly being distracted, you’re not going to be able to get into the deep concentration that you need for thinking and cranking in building your startup
2. Virtual tools are poor substitutes to the office. Humans have been getting together working around specific physical locations since the beginning of history. Humans have evolved to work together. As James points out, virtual tools are poor substitutes for face to face interaction. Use virtual tools as supplements, not substitutes to having a real office.
3. Separate work from play. I love my work around the Tech Ranch (and many of the startiups that I’ve been a part of over the years)…. Yet, I’ve learned the hard way that its critical to separate work-play from just the play of being at my home or being at a coffee shop for just having a cup of coffee with a friend. Make sure to separate your workspaces from your pure playspaces, and your brain will have more capability to produce.
4. Cheaper than a $4 latte. So anyone that reads my twitter feed knows that I love mochas. Yet in trying to work at a coffee shop, buying a bunch of lattes or mochas, you’re going to spend more money than you will for having an office or access to one of the new type of incubator or co-working spaces that are developing around Austin or around the world. And if you are at the Tech Ranch, you’re sure to get caught up in some strong biases towards even higher quality coffee than you’ll get at many coffeeshops!
5. Leverage the community. Heard of the “water cooler effect”? That is, at a larger company how stuff happens around the water cooler where two people randomly run into each other and then some new idea comes out of that interaction? These types of interactions can happen anywhere… but in an environment like at Tech Ranch, we’ve wired the place to produce daily random productive interactions. Community members around the Ranch know that creating the water cooler effect is one of the reasons that they are there…. and so its natural that we see interactions every day that are producing results that would not have happened any other way.
6. Leverage experts. Around many of the accelerators like YCombinator or Tech Ranch we’ve collected experts that have a lot of scar tissue… who’ve been there, done that, and perhaps they’ve learned the hard way… An environment like Tech Ranch might just create the right conversation with the person that’s been there and screwed it up before so that you, in building your startup, can avoid the pitfalls, and learn from their mistakes without having to make your own mistakes. (and I say this as an entrepreneur that’s been screwing up things since 1994. Let me tell you- I can help keep your startup out of some of the screwups that I’ve done).
7. Leverage both. Ok, so as I write this, I am sitting in a coffee shop, having a mocha, and enjoying having a slight different change of pace. There’s no reason to have a strick either or decision concerning being in an incubator / accelerator and enjoying a coffee every once in a while for a change of pace.
The real challenge is moving as quickly as possible with as few resources as possible in building out your company. Come try out the Tech Ranch and see how it effects your progress on your startup. Or, if you have one of these places in Central Texas or around the world, initiate a conversation with us. We’re putting together the playbook that shows how to take these interactions to the next level. As well, for the entrepreneur at the Tech Ranch Austin we’re fairly liberal about making the risk and barrier for entry low (we ask for 30 days notice). In 30 days at one of these locations, you’ll notice a major positive difference. That’s my commitment to you at the Tech Ranch. Building a company alone and isolated is hard. Come crank on it with others to really make things happen fast on your startup.