Founder Focus: Mobile Workforce Entrepreneur, Lise Snelgrove
I met Lise Snelgove, co-founder of This Space Works, when she was a finalist in the TiECon Canada startup pitch competition. As the only startup finalist making revenue and scaling on revenue growth (and getting repeat business from very satisfied clients), Lise was the only founder I wanted to talk to after the competition.
This Space Works addresses the way we work now: we’re mobile, we’re collaborative, we’re in need of different work configurations during the day or week. One size work space (or conference room) does not fit all of our work needs any more. Lise and her This Space Works team source fabulous work spaces, then make these spaces available by the hour or by the day. For companies with mobile professionals or dispersed project teams (or simply needing a new work environment to spur the innovation juices), This Space Works delivers up awesome spaces to meet, collaborate and innovate.
Where did the idea for This Space Works come from?
Technology has given us the gift of time. It’s hard to believe we used to stand in line at the local bank to withdraw money for the weekend. At my last job I couldn’t understand why we still sat in traffic to get to the office for a 9-5 workday.
Technology has given us the freedom to work differently. We can work anywhere, anytime. We can get our teams together in an interesting part of town and change it up every week. We can work in spaces that inspire us. I could see the way we work was changing and I wanted to be a part of it.
We had the technology, we just needed access to great spaces. We knew This Space Works would be the answer.
Is co-founding a startup your first entrepreneurial venture? If so, why? What caused you to make the leap?
I have dabbled in entrepreneurial ventures for years. While living in Thailand I opened a cafe for travelers inspired by my own experience traveling in different countries. When I returned to Canada, I was the 8th employee at a technology startup in Vancouver. I’ve always loved it. I moved on to work in a larger organization but always knew that one day I would go back to the startup world.
Tell me about the types of clients who are seeking to rent temporary space. Why attracts them to This Space Works?
Innovative brands understand the new way of work and are looking for flexible space solutions. From small companies to global organizations, these brands love using our spaces.
People want to be inspired. Simple activities like putting on a jacket and stepping out of the office can energize your thinking. You can see a person’s body language change as they walk into an arts building and realize today’s meeting is going to be really interesting. When you work somewhere completely different it gives you a fresh perspective.
What is the most unusual space someone has wanted to rent out?
We don’t think of our spaces as unusual, more like hidden gems. Our space owners consist of art galleries, record labels, technology companies, not for profit organizations, marketing agencies and so many more. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so we list a good variety that appeals to different styles.
What can you tell about the culture of a company from its workspace?
A company’s workspace is a good indication of how much priority they put on culture, people and collaboration. Creating a great workspace does not have to be expensive but it is an investment.
What’s the best office perk you’ve seen?
Great design. When your office is designed around people and culture you can feel that sense of community as soon as you walk in the door.
What is the one thing every work environment needs?
A work environment should be flexible. People have different work needs at different times. Working in a group, a quiet space to focus, a change of scenery. Employees should have the flexibility to do what works best for them.
Where do you and your This Space Works team work from?
We work everywhere. Some days we work from home, other days we’re out with space owners and clients. It’s always changing. When we meet with colleagues or as a team we book one of our spaces.
What’s on your desk? And desktop?
On my desk I have my laptop and my phone. And a plant that doesn’t get enough attention. My desktop is my virtual office. I take it everywhere. Everything we need to run the business sits on the cloud that makes it really easy to be mobile.
Do you have a favorite gadget at the office?
Right now it’s my rocket book. I like using a pen and paper to take notes but wish I could save them to the cloud. This app scans the notes with your phone and files them in a folder of your choice. When you’ve used all the pages you pop it in the microwave and it erases everything. No wasted paper. I love it.
What do you need in order to perform at your best?
A fantastic team. We work with great people who are passionate about our business. We trust them. It doesn’t matter where they are or what time they logging in. They know what needs to get done and they’ll deliver. We all perform at our best when we work as a team.
What’s your motto?
Life is short. Love what you do with it.
What’s next for This Space Works?
I always tell people I have the best job in the world. We hunt the city for inspiring workspaces and open them up to people who value the power of working in a creative space. These space owners and renters make up our This Space Works business community.
We are the new way of work and we’re excited to expand across Canada and into the US over the next year.