Greenhouse: On growing a company

By Chris Márffy

Over the last two months, we’ve been busy getting settled into our new premises on Victoria Street. This is a big next step for us after the last two and a half years of working out of Greenhouse (ChristchurchNZ’s former workspace for startups in central Christchurch). The last few years have been a time of formative growth for Lab3. We’ve evolved from a group of university friends with a passion for software development, to a professional software services company, with an ambition to grow and offer more to our clients. I’ve been reflecting on the ways in which being in Greenhouse has helped us, and changed how we do our work.

The big thing about co-working spaces is the other companies and individuals that share the space with you. Working alongside the individuals who run other businesses has a wonderful effect. It encourages sharing ideas, expanding networks and gaining valuable experience, and the best thing is that it's from people who were once in your shoes.

We’ve met energetic founders sharing a similar but different journey. We’ve met serial entrepreneurs with a handful of successes and failures behind them already. We’ve met veterans of the software industry, with battle stories to inspire and warn.

I’m not sure where we would be as a company now if we hadn’t moved into Greenhouse, and had instead kept working out of my university flat. It’s fair to say though that we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Greenhouse wasn’t intended to only be a co-working space. It was also a place that wrapped support and mentorship around the businesses located there. This mentorship has been invaluable in the early years of Lab3. We started the business as software developers rather than business managers. Over the course of the last few years, we’ve had to learn how to run a business on the go. Throughout this time, the Greenhouse and ChristchurchNZ mentorship and support has been there. They've helped us to make sure we were making the right decisions to keep things moving forward.

When you’re new to the world of business, as we were when starting out - there’s a lot you don’t know. We often asked ourselves not only ‘how’, but ‘who?’.. Who’s a good accountant for a small business like us? Who do we talk to about this idea? Who can we provide our services to? Who do we want to provide our services to? The list of ‘whos’ a group of fresh entrepreneurs don’t have the answer to is huge - and a place like Greenhouse is the perfect place to help with this. If you have a need for something as a business, it’s almost a guarantee that other small businesses would have needed the same thing. Luckily, you’re working in a room full of them. After a while, you’ll find that you have experiences that help others out too - the circle of life.

It’s fair to say it will be a big change for us, moving into our own offices. For us it’s the necessary next stage in the progress of growth. We need a space of our own to be able to accommodate the growth of our team, as well as allow us flexibility as we work on larger projects. In a shared space, you’re restricted in the ways you can organise the workspace to suit your company. This restriction is helpful. It enables you to focus on the things that matter at that stage - what your business offers, how it’s run, and who you need to help you do that.

Now that we’ve established these, we’re hoping our own space will help us focus on our team, and make the environment we need for happy and productive employees (ourselves included!). It’ll also give us a chance to rework the way we run our day to day processes to ensure we’re offering our clients the best that we can. We’re passionate about software development, and we’re always keen to help you out with a question you might have - so come have a chat!

Article by Chris Márffy