July Business in Calgary - A Startup's Guide to Renting Space
Monday, July 6, 2015
BY ANDREA MENDIZABAL
When expenses are on a shoestring budget, it can be
challenging for a startup to know when to make the
leap from the home office to a commercial office
space. Building your startup from a home office is great for
offsetting costs while growing and acquiring first customers.
However there comes a turning point in a startup’s growth
when the home office no longer lends itself to a professional
environment. How do you know if your business is ready?
Where do you go? How much space do you need? What
services are you looking for? Is coworking a better option?
The number of questions can be daunting.
For Charles Gammans, founder of Ultralight Technologies,
it came down to people.
“It’s a challenge; it’s really hard to know when it’s time to
look for space,” says Gammans. “I would say the definitive
factor is when you have employees and require that daily
interaction, or when you find yourself booking multiple client
meetings and need an environment that looks reputable.”
As a startup, a crucial part of building a successful
company is the people. Chris Goodall, managing director of
InvenSense Canada, agrees.
InvenSense Canada, formerly Trusted Positioning Inc.,
grew from a three-person team to 20-plus employees,
to recently being acquired by a multibillion-dollar U.S.
company. Now, the company is expanding in Calgary and is
looking for office space to grow into.
“You have to have a good location for your people, that
should always be number one,” says Goodall. “I think that
for any high-tech startup company, the most important
thing is the people, the employees. It should be a priority to
keep them happy.”
Anthony Lewis, commercial real estate associate with RE/
MAX Complete Commercial, explains that there are some
other key factors that every company should think about
when looking to rent space.
“Before starting their search, startups should know how
much they want to spend. Figure out the size of office space
you need and work within that budget,” says Lewis. “You
should also know how long you would like to lease for and in
what quadrant of the city. Location can make a big difference.”
According to Lewis, the current economic downturn has
had an effect on the commercial rental market in Calgary.
“Out of the four sectors – industrial, retail, office and land –
office is in a slump,” says Lewis. “Vacancy rates are high and the
downtown core is definitely feeling the economic downturn.”
With the downturn, startup companies at the next stage
of growth have an opportunity to ease into the commercial
“There is a lot of office space available right now and we are
seeing some flexibility with landlords,” says Lewis. “You can
find a good rate with a five-year term, or negotiate a monthto-month
or one-year lease – it’s all about understanding the
current market and knowing how to negotiate with the landlord.”
With a spectrum of possibilities, taking the first step into
commercial office space can be daunting, but knowing the
answers to some of those key questions can help any startup
company on their journey to finding suitable space.
Keep in mind that when looking for space, it is also important
to align your current needs with your projected business plan
growth. You don’t want to outgrow your space too soon and
you don’t want to occupy too large a space either.
The right space is the result of providing your business with
employee engagement, increased reputability, affordability,
the right location, and room for growth.
To learn more about Innovate Calgary and how it supports new
and emerging entrepreneurs, visit www.innovatecalgary.com.
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