The Story of How We Became Real Estate Owners
At itnig we strive to host the best talent in Europe. Our startups have attracted skilled and high performing professionals who enjoy working in a place they call home. With growing teams a new space became soon necessary and thus expanded to an additional floor in our same building.
Our new office space has been engineered with the experience of many years of startup hosting and designed for open startups that have different needs at every stage of their development. With a mix of working area, quiet meeting rooms and phone booths and many square meters destined to exchange, relax and fun itnig’s new floor is a great addition to Barcelona’s @22 district.
If you are interested in knowing the whole story of our new space keep on reading! In this article we will take a look at how we came to need more space, how we found the place and how we financed it.
All our startups are growing at such a rapid pace that is seems like every week we are welcoming a new team member and giving him or her a tour of the office.
We had been using the same 600sqm office for the past six years and we had to add to the space two times using available offices on the same floor. It wasn’t bad but not enough if we wanted to keep growing, and we will. So two years ago we started with the search of a new office where we could fit nicely today and in a future, to work concentratedly in the office, to invite people for meetings and conferences and to take calls without disturbing each other.
At itnig one of the most important parts is being able to share what we are doing, what we are learning or struggling with — we see our strength in the collective of different startups and different people. As such, we could not imagine having to split up just because we did no longer fit in one space or having to miss out on the external inputs we are receiving through our co-working area.
I, Meritxell Viladomat, itnig’s office manager was in charge of the search of the new office. We went out on many safaris though Poblenou to find a suitable space, I rang up countless of administrators and owners…until finding out about a company leaving in our same building. We were not the only ones interested and soon enough, two interesting parties started teaming up like allies to bet us out of it (and actually try to rent the same space to us ..). It was time to move quickly! What used to be the showroom and office of an apparel company was being sold. After going downstairs to visit the space several times we decided to go for it and scrambled to get the downpayment together. From the reservation of the space we now had three months to gather the whole sum.
Like a round of finance for one of our startups, we split the value of the office up into different parts and set out to find our investors. Surprisingly — or not? — it was rather easy to convince them of the value of our new office. When before we struggled to have our pitches heard, this time while talking about a building, a physical good, everybody we spoke to was interested.
Every time we pitched, we succeeded. Real estate, no risk, tangible and easily imaginable. That’s what our investors heard.
In only two months we were able to bring more than a million € to the table and so to finance our own floor in a Poblenou building. It was the first time, we wrote our business plan with clear certainties.
We see our office space as a company itself with a clear business plan with income streams and many expenses that needs to be profitable. Like our startups, it’s an investment for the long run — we are thinking ahead many years from now. Not only our startups contribute to the working space we also have a coworking space with more interesting people to learn from and exchange ideas with.
We think startups have 2 missions: To make a great product that satisfies needs and to sell it for a profit. At itnig we allow our startups to focus on this, instead of wasting time and effort on utility bills, reception services and other headaches. Renting an office and all the services apart is quite more expensive and time-consuming than renting in a shared space where there is already a team being in charge of all the office related tasks.
“Itnig puts the infrastructure and each startup or co-working user contributes their share.”
Do you like to work surrounded by smart and fun people in a frenetic environment? Do you enjoy going to the beach after work, learning something new about marketing or technology and going through ideas for your business over lunch? itnig is the place for you — join us in our co-working space in Alaba 61!
The renovation: Design & Work
I am an architect and so planning the re-structuring, getting quotes and negotiating with the contractors came handy to me. Besides a little part that was used as a showroom, the new floor was pretty empty and in its original state. The few walls that were there did not serve us so we tore down everything. A white canvas. A fresh start.
A complicated thing that most external interior designers and architects face is that they do not know the customer. It takes some time and visits for them to get to know what their customer really want and why. All this discovery of needs for the space was already done in our case as I have been in the itnig team for already two years in charge of the office management. I spent two years getting to know the teams and what they think of the office through the Confort office polls that were sent repeatedly every 3 months. If you are curious about the poll answers, showers, free coffee and a terrace were the more demanded features, which at the end, we managed to include in the new offices.
We wanted an open space but at the same time every startup needs to have their closed space to work. The floor we chose had big windows in all its perimeter so we wanted to have the working areas with the natural light and the meeting rooms, bathrooms and kitchen in the middle without direct access to natural light. I went through different proposals still without knowing if we would finally be able to get the money and buy the floor. We thought about a floorplan with a circular design around the meeting room and services nucleus that at the same time would allow us to divide the floorplan into 5 different independent offices in case we would not be able to fill it with our startups.
We didn’t realise how poor our budget was until we started asking different contractors for quotes. As in very project it’s very important to find the right partners whom you can work well with and trust.
All in all the new space is 1.300 square meters big of which 490 square meters are dedicated to common areas: meeting rooms, chill out areas, terrace…
In this relation alone you can see how important exchange is for us here at itnig. For us working means learning, growing and challenging ourselves but also our businesses and we believe that this is best done in company. Each startup has their own corner, their own space to work from, and we come together to compare and contrast. Even though each of us faces a different market, the general logics of customer acquisition, retention and product development are the same and sometimes a new perspective gives unexpected input to push us to the next level.
I have already shared my tips for designing an office for growing teams, so if you are interested in finding out more about how we work together at itnig, check it out, join us for one of our next events or stay tuned to our podcast.