19 September, 2017
Soon after I started Camrosh Ltd, an innovation strategy consultancy, in late 2014, it became clear to me that despite having taken every effort to set up a comfortable office at home, what an entrepreneur needs is an environment with like-minded people – and also not so like-minded people – to exchange ideas and be challenged by them.
Before that I had already been working from home for three years leading the European Technology Intelligence team for a US-based innovation consulting company, but that was different. I had a team that I had recruited and trained, I had colleagues in Belgium, the Netherlands and in the US who worked with me on projects, and I travelled to clients across Europe. Starting up was a different matter; it was the computer and me for the first few weeks! Very soon I started thinking about finding somewhere else to work from, at least for a couple of days a week. Given the nature of my work I wanted to join co-working spaces that were also innovation and tech hubs.
It was in April this year that I was invited to facilitate at a workshop, which happened to be held at the new conferencing facilities at the Aurora Innovation Centre at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge. During the opening of the workshop the Innovation Manager announced that Aurora included a co-working space and that they would welcome new members. Immediately after the opening session I joined.
Looking back I can say that this was one of the best decisions I made for the business and myself. The co-working space is spacious and light, the colours of furniture are of a joyful nature, including two very comfortable writing chairs, into one of which I settled to write these lines. There are state-of-the-art meeting rooms that a member can use for limited hours in the week as part of the membership package and thereafter for hire on an hourly basis.
The BAS innovation team have been extremely helpful not only in welcoming me, but also in opening doors and making connections inside the organisation. They have also provided the possibility of connecting me with their external network, where possible. In addition, working from the Aurora Collaboration Space at BAS enabled me to accept an intern for summer from the University of Bergamo, Italy, who is doing a great job and seems not too disappointed with English summers so far. As time goes on I discover more good things about moving into a co-working space and the opportunities it brings.
Indeed I look forward to going to my desk at Aurora to take forward my work, but there are also little things that bring a smile to my face when I set off: the anticipation of the colourful box full of Jelly Bears that Sam, one of the other Aurora occupants, offers us every afternoon, and the fact that I can leave my slippers behind at home and wear a pair of shoes!