Business start-ups should take advantage of the collaborative, networking and cost-saving opportunities offered by a new city centre working space, say a group of Tauranga entrepreneurs.
Supporting nascent businesses and fostering entrepreneurial activity was the idea behind the recent launch of co-working space Ignition.
Co-working offices, where people from different professions come together under one roof to work, are becoming increasingly popular internationally.
Particularly suited to the self-employed or freelancers, similar spaces to the one in Tauranga's Grey St already exist in Auckland and Wellington.
Ignition was launched by regional economic growth organisation Priority One on November 5 but its first tenants have been in place since October 15.
One of the first was Jo Allum. She runs a design, content and marketing consultancy, Yojo Design, as well as a start-up company called OneGratis.
Ms Allum valued "the opportunity to collaborate and work with other small businesses which are just starting up, to get out of my front room, the connection with Priority One and the ultrafast broadband".
She said the proximity to Priority One had significant benefits.
"There's lots of things happening in Tauranga with start-ups and Ignition is providing a focus for those people. All of the different networks here, Priority One knows exactly what's happening. The meetings happening, we get to hear about them first.
"There are a lot of people working really hard in the background to get the environment right for start-ups in Tauranga."
Ms Allum encouraged others to take advantage of the co-working space.
"The more people that collaborate the faster start-ups can grow. This is a great space to bring your idea out into the open. Have a go because there are those support networks being built up around us."
Michelle McCarthy, Priority One's project analyst, managed the establishment of Ignition.
"We saw a need to support Tauranga's co-working community and, in doing so, to foster the innovation and commercial potential of local entrepreneurs," she said".
"In order to be accessible to business people at all levels, costs have been kept to a minimum."
Three rooms are available to tenants following the concept of Meet, Think and Share. There is a meeting room (Meet), an open-plan office area (Think), and a modern, spacious lunch room (Share).
Of 16 desks in the Think space, 10 have been taken, leaving six open. For those who take up a 12-month contract before January 31, the desks will cost $60 per week. After that, it will be $80 per week for a permanent desk or $40 per day for casual use.
Kathryn Overall is a Facebook marketing mentor and founder of Engage Communications. For her, Ignition provided structure and a great meeting space.
"I like the autonomy of working for myself but missed the energy of working with other people. Having the rhythms and routines of office life has allowed me to be much more productive.
"Also, I live in Maketu and most of my clients are in Tauranga, so I would come over for client meetings but inevitably there would be dead time in between. The beauty of the Meet space is that clients can come here instead of me always going out to them."
Maya Lyon sits opposite Miss Overall and says Ignition has allowed her to realise a dream of running her own business.
"I was shown around and just got a really good vibe so I signed up to it," said the graphic designer, who founded Brightside Design.
"Meeting Kathryn [Overall] has been great. She introduced me to Venus women's network and it's opened up opportunities I definitely wouldn't have had otherwise. I don't think I would be able to do what I'm doing without Ignition. It's really opening doors."
Both Mrs Lyon and Miss Overall commended Priority One for committing to the project.
"A lot of people have talked and thought about doing this but I'm appreciative of the fact Priority One has actually taken action." said Mrs Lyon, who specialises in brand identity and personalised graphic design.
"I know as a start-up I don't have a lot of money and most start-ups are in that position. This is really affordable, so it's perfect for people with small budgets."
Ignition's first tenants are an eclectic group and even include a local pastor.
Lead pastor at St Luke's Church, Mount Maunganui, Joseph McAuley said he uses Ignition four days a week. The space suited his church's needs.
"It's economical, practical and flexible," said 32-year-old Mr McAuley, whose church has been operational for 18 months.
"I've been working out of the office at home for a year-and-a-half and we just needed some different space, so this works really well for us.
"And this way we can put more money into making a difference in people's lives, rather than into facilities."