I’d never conducted an interview with a kitty purring on my lap, but there’s a first time for everything here in Waterloo Region.
Alexander Marshall, founder of George Briggs Media, can attest to that.
After founding his company (George and Briggs are his two middle names), Marshall spent almost two years working from the Communitech Hub, first through the Laurier LaunchPad, and then as a tenant.
Today, he is settling into a new studio space, called The GB Collective, down the road from Communitech. The 2,400-square-foot shared space is a freelancer’s dream. And yes, it comes with a resident cat.
“I want a sense of community,” Marshall said. “We need the right space for creative types to work. If people work in one space, cool things will happen.”
Marshall wants to stay Waterloo Region, but working in a creative field rather than a technical one has made it difficult to stay inspired and stay hired here.
In fact, earlier this year, he considered moving his company to Toronto, where most of his clients are.
Marshall was sourcing office space in TO when something, or rather someplace, changed his mind.
“I fell in love with this space,” he said of the new space at 108 Ahrens St. W. “I wasn’t ready to do this now, but we knew this space was it, so I said, ‘We have to do this now, and not next year somewhere else.’”
And so, Marshall has decided to stay put.
He talked to more than 100 freelancers locally and in the Toronto area to get an idea of the ideal work space. Not surprisingly, many are tired of working out of coffee shops or their basements, and want access to studio space and like-minded people with whom to share ideas.
“There’s no rocket science around it,” Marshall said. “We’re just letting the people in the space to pull together the needs they are looking for. Just like in Communitech, it will happen quite seamlessly when the right people are working together.
"The studio space is letting us provide photo and video needs. We’re providing as many resources as possible.”
Marshall’s vision is to have eight permanent desk spaces for long-term resident creators, along with open, café-like work space for people dropping in for a day, a week or even a few hours.
All professional creatives are welcomed. Marshall is looking to fill his space with graphic designers, event planners, photographers, journalists and UX designers to name a few.
A virtual office space, giving you a permanent address and board room use starts at $90 a month, while a full-time resident desk space will run at $400 a month. The fully kitted-out studio ?starts at $30 per hour.
If the demand is there, he’ll be able to expand The GB Collective to about 6,000 square feet. The technical studio space will grow, as will desk space when budgets allow.
Marshall hopes the new space will become a bit of a clubhouse for professional creative types in the region, as well as a one-stop shop for people looking to hire talent for content-related projects, instead of using Google to search out prospective makers.
The GB Collective is still taking shape, but freelancers are already working from the space. While Marshall drives to Toronto weekly to meet with clients, he’s adamant that he’s found the perfect place to grow his own agency and feed the region in a creative way.
“Staying in the region is letting us grow in a smart, long-term fashion instead of just in a fast, short term way to survive.”
Feeling inspired this weekend? Why don’t you try something new? I see and hear that the Music App Developers of Kitchener-Waterloo are having their first meetup on Thursday, Sept. 25 the TC Group Americas office at 335 Gage Ave., Suite 1 in Kitchener, beginning at 7 p.m. The group welcomes musicians, technicians, artists, and engineers to hear speakers, join discussions and enjoy light snacks… Startup Grind Kitchener-Waterloo is hosting Jordan Levy of SoftBank Capital for a fireside chat at Communitech. The event, this Friday, Sept. 26 starts at noon, and is a paid event… if you want to check out The GB Collective, they are hosting an open house also on Friday from 3-6 p.m. Head on down to 108 Ahrens St. W. in Kitchener to see the space and meet Alex Marshall.... Etsy comes to town. Head to the Walper Hotel in Kitchener on Saturday, Sept. 27 for the first MADE IN CANADA: Etsy Market between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to meet your favourite local Etsy sellers and buy from them in person... and finally, it’s National Learn to Code day on Sept. 27, and Thalmic Labs in downtown Kitchener is hosting an Intro to HTML and CSS class. The day starts at 10 a.m. and paid registration is required.