Celebrating rad working communities all over the globe! In this edition of community shoutout, we chat to Bad Company, a shared workspace for creators located in downtown Mt Maunganui. Bad Company was founded by two friends, Jenna & Tori, who longed for the common need of collaborative space.

The pursuit — create a community focused workspace that offered coworking and collaboration with other like-minded creators, enhancing each others offering and providing support for new businesses. Afternoon banter is an added bonus!

So let’s hear it, how did Bad Company come about?

Before Bad Company, Jenna and I were complete strangers. Jenna had recently made the move to the Mount and herself and a coworker were looking for an office space, but nothing was jumping out at them. I’d also made the move from Auckland with the dream of setting up a creative workspace — I was already in the process of scoping out potential buildings. 

We both went to the same coffee joint every morning, shoutouts George Cafe!We were both super friendly with the Barista Maria and I’d been talking to Maria about my plans for setting up a creative space and Jenna had been chatting about how she was looking for a place to work out of. Maria put us in contact with one another, and we met up and got the ball rolling! 

We had to make some pretty hard and fast decisions about working together — if we had the same common goals, and making sure we had the same vision for the space as there are so many ways to orchestrate a business like this. We soon found out that we were both singing the same tune and we just went all guns blazing! 

Tori and I come from quite different professional backgrounds: Tori works in fashion and I work in Digital Marketing so we both bring a different skill-set. I think we’re really lucky in the fact that it’s a bit Yin and Yang, we bring different things to the space which allows us to provide a really well-rounded service that covers the day-to-day needs of our residents. 

“We strive for a premium quality customer service, and being a community-driven workplace we celebrate collaboration. We want our residents to feel that they can call on any other resident to get a project moving or an idea off the ground. It’s a really approachable environment we’ve created and I feel that speaks fully about the type of people Jenna and I are.” 

Now the name of the space, we think it’s up there with some of the best ones we’ve come across! What’s the story behind it?

The name Bad Company originated from the idea that working on the outside can be quite lonely and isolating right? By being in Bad Company you’re always in company; it’s a play on words to bring people together. It also reflects back on our personal sense of humour and just not taking things too seriously! When we moved to the Mount we both just fell in love with the place, we didn’t mind that the TAB were our neighbours, we just embraced it. Also being in a bit of sleepy town we wanted to ruffle a few feathers and get people talking!

How has Bad Company grown since the beginning eight months ago, and are there any key things you can attribute that growth to?

We never think too small! Even though we’re in a small surf town, we are always keeping on top of world trends in the coworking movement. We take the challenge of thinking globally rather than limiting ourselves to where we are geographically. We’re always looking to improve and how we can expand our own knowledge, so I’d say our growth is attributed to keeping on the pulse. We position ourselves as much more than just a shared space. For us it was really important from the get-go to create a strong sense of community for our residents as well as the surrounding area. 

“We get everyone involved by providing events, webinars and workshops that the outside community can attend and feel like they’re benefiting from.”

We’ve just had food cart that were friends of ours called Lucky Lucky Noodle, and we were able to help them launch into their business by offering our carpark as their pop-up spot. It’s been so fantastic to see the alignment of local brands and see them flourish from our support. 

Since we’ve set up shop our offerings have changed and adapted to our community. We’ve listened and taken the feedback onboard from our members and are tailoring more flexibility in our plans to cater for different individual working styles. 

Setting up a coworking space is no easy task! How have you found the whole process so far? 

“The day-to-day tasks are super time consuming — you’re spending time doing the little things that you probably didn’t think you’d be doing! Saying that, we’ve both loved every minute of the whole process.” 

From the get-go we were really good at putting systems in place and structuring our weeks — we’d debrief every week and go over what we’d achieved, what we needed to put more focus on and just doing a general breakdown. We’ve persevered — you’re gonna have those sh*t times and things do get overwhelming but that’s sometimes just what it takes! 

Being an early adopter of the coworking and shared office movement in your region, how has the community reacted?

Really positively! We get a lot of people say to us “Woah that’s such a great idea!” but maybe have not realised that the shared workspace & coworking movement is a booming global trend! So yeah the concept is very new to a lot of the community, so for us it feels great to be able to introduce and pioneer a new way of working in our region. 

There are a bunch of freelancers and independent workers in our area that have been really interested in what we’re doing. We’ve had more established larger local businesses approaching us with the intention of planting a few of their employees into Bad Company, to benefit both the wellbeing and skill-sets of the employees and for networking opportunities for the business itself. 

We also have had people contact us who work for companies in Auckland, but who want to live in the Mount for the lifestyle. We believe a shared space really marries with the Mount Maunganui way of living. It’s a great location for the perfect work-life balance — you can pop out for a surf in the morning, climb the mount, maybe do a couple hours here and there at the office and we really wanted to incorporate this vibe into the space itself. 

How did you start gauging interest and attracting potential members before you opened your doors? A lot of early-stage spaces rely heavily on anchor tenants, did you follow this approach?

It was pretty much referrals all the way through — we did a small bit of Facebook advertising and listed the space online. Before we opened up we’d done our market research and we had a list of of around 5–10 people who were really interested in setting themselves up in Bad Company which really gave us the confidence to move it forward. 

“You can’t beat a good old bit of networking to get your name out — word of mouth is a powerful method of acquisition — small town benefit!” 

How do you guys educate the community on what coworking is?

We’re definitely both members of the wider community who are always out and about, we have an organisation here called Mount Main-street and we’ll go to events and we just welcome anyone to come and chat to us and find out what we’re all about. Our website is really informative and provides lots of good info, like the benefits and features of shared working environments. Through our marketing we really focus on a personal level and try just be as relevant as possible to our audiences.

Going back to where things all began, given the chance to go back and do it again what would you do differently and why?

We’d start off with more space! At the beginning, we were quite hesitant about the amount of space we’d take on in our building — there’s two rooms, a front and a back. The front room is 91 sqm and then the back room is about half that size at 45 sqm and this is the room we took the lease upon initially. The back lease came up and at the time it seemed like a huge gamble, but now we’re like “we need the whole damn building!”

The need for more space over time is a great way to look back on what we’ve achieved and be stoked on what we’ve built! 

I don’t know if we would necessarily change many things, it’s been a big learning curve for the both of us and it’s gotten us to where we’re at today. We’re not afraid to call on people for help. We’ve been immensely lucky and we’re incredibly grateful for the amount of help we’ve had along the way, from friends and family, people who have just put in hours painting or making furniture. We’ve had a solid team right from the beginning that really helped push things in the right direction!

“Wouldn’t change a thing!”

What are some of the standout lessons learnt between setting up and where you’re at now, and what information would you pass on to people thinking about setting up a space? 

Spend the time getting to know who your target market are, and really listen to what they’re after. Of course, you want the space to have a reflection of yourself as a founder but it’s really important to be able to provide for your members. Take the time to engage with your members, I think that’s what people really value at Bad Company — we know everyone on a personal level. Find out what’s going on in your members’ businesses and in their lives.

At the end of the day, everybody loves to be acknowledged, human interaction trumps all and that’s the standout lesson for us. Most of all the feedback that we’ve got back from members is that it makes all the difference just having a yarn and showing the love! 

“From a business perspective the more you know about your members, the more you know about what support they need and who to connect them with.” 

Do you guys use the space as an events hub as well? What kind of event and meet-ups have you held in the past?

We’re just starting to get into holding events, so far we’ve done mostly social gatherings and those sort of things. We have a Wellness Wednesday group that come in and use the space, on Tuesdays and Thursdays we run mindfulness workshops where the members and wider community get involved. As space is limited at the moment phase two will be bringing in industry specialists to speak about relevant business skills like social media strategy, public relations, xero rundowns and all that jazz! 

What’s really exciting are the social connections and collaborations that are happening within the space that we haven’t had to initiate. The members themselves are putting on events and other members will get involved organically! We’ve started our fortnightly newsletter “Bad Words” and we’re finding we’re getting members coming forward and just wanting to add little things in to see if anyone else is interested. This has ranged from hosting talks on Bitcoin to starting running clubs!

In terms of your community, what type of businesses and professions have you got happening within Bad Company?

We have a wide range of small business within Bad Company ranging from; 

E-commerce businesses Illustrators & Graphic Designers Digital Marketers Lawyers Photographers Human centred designers Events coordinator (Hosting a coworking Christmas party for freelancers and small businesses!) 

What are some cool ways that you’ve seen some of the Bad Company residents come together and collaborate?

We have a permanent member Claire Piper — Claire runs an Anti-Money Laundering company and has been a member at Bad Company since day one. Claire was able to use all the in-house skills of other members to rebuild her website and rebrand her company! She used the Web Designer & Developer for the build, Graphic Designers and Photographers were pulled in to help with a visual rebrand and then we helped with the digital marketing! The whole process worked out so well, and she was able to roll out a really comprehensive website launch.

“It was an awesome experience to all work with one another, and band together on a pretty epic project!”

Check out Clair’s website here: fiducia.co.nz

What does the future look like for Bad Company? Any exciting plans you want to share with us?

We’ve got some big news that we aren’t just ready to share as of yet, so keep your ears and eyes open in the coming weeks! We’re definitely working towards continuing to curate our community, create more of a hub for our events — we’re going to really be pushing for a full calendar of diverse events — providing and focusing on the community outside of the walls of the space and being a real advocate for up and comers in our region. 

On the topic of future, there’s an awful lot of chat about “The Future of Work” going on right now, what does the future of work look like through your eyes?

More and more people will want to work for themselves, larger companies and corporates will soon realise that they need to offer more flexibility in the way their employees work. We think there’s going to be quite a big shift in the fact that people will be going out on their own, there will be more freelancers and independent workers who are looking at working alongside like-minded people in collaborative environments like coworking spaces.

“There’s a consumer shift happening, people are preferring to work with some down the road locally, supporting smaller local businesses and feeling a sense of belonging.”

Up and coming events at Bad Company? 

We’re going to be hosting an event late November called On The Horizon, we’re setting it up a little bit like a surf cabin lodge so it’s going to be good vibes all round! The illustrator in our space is using the event as a gallery and all her work is going to be on display — we also have a photographer who we’re going to be exhibiting. My (Tori) board-short brand will be releasing so you’ll be able to grab a pair of those, and we also have local surfboard shapers that we really want to promote — something different from the standard cookie cutter boards. It’ll be good music, good food and good people!

Anything you’d like to add?

We just love meeting people who are doing cool things! We welcome anyone to come and check out Bad Company, and spend some time with us and the rest the community. It’s our passion to connect people and help get that idea you may have off the ground in what ever venture or avenue you’re doing!

High fives all round to both Jenna & Tori, these chicks are putting Tauranga & The Mount on coworking map! The duo have some pretty big news that’ll be uncovered in the coming months so make sure you keep up to date with them on their socials, check out the Facebook and give them the follow on the gram

Fancy spending a day or more at Bad Company? Book your desk though CoLo!

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