In this edition of People of Coworking we chat to Justin McCormack, Co-founder of Fleetpin and resident of Argo Beach coworking space, Christchurch.

‍Tell us a little about yourself

I’ve been working in the Web & Technologies industry since the start of my career. I moved to Christchurch in 2009 after residing in London for about five years, I got a job with an e-commerce search provider company SLI Systems starting out as a UI developer in which I progressed in to product management. I was with the company for a total of five years, and during the last year or so at the company I started a side project with my brother who was based in Auckland.

Over the last six months of working for SLI Systems the side project begun to grow, it was taking up a lot of my spare time including after work late nights and weekends. This eventually progressed to me making the decision to work part time with SLI (which I was very grateful for being able to do), and put the rest of my time and energy was put into the side project. About six months further down the line, at about the same time as my first child arrived — I pulled pin with SLI and took up Fleetpin full-time.

What’s Fleetpin all about?

Fleetpin is a GPS tracking tool for vehicles, it’s designed as a user friendly fleet management system for small to medium sized businesses. It allows business owners to have full oversight of their fleet of vehicles and keep track of where they are. It’s also a management tool to keep on top of warrant of fitnesses, road user charges and any other reminders. We’re proudly 100% Kiwi owned and operated and have been operating the last two years.

How was the transition turning your side project into a full-time gig?

It was full on! Like I said, my background is predominately UI development so I had to teach myself a lot of other technical skills. I like prototyping and cobbling things together to see if something’s possible, I’d describe myself as someone who’s good at starting things but not necessarily finishing it. So taking this project on as the only technically able part of a two person team was challenging. I had to be very disciplined — we had paying customers so I needed to be constantly improving the quality and experience of the product.

I had to learn a lot. I essentially had to teach myself a whole new skill-set, find out how to use the AWS stack, managing large scale databases — there were many hats to wear! Adjusting from a company environment where we had lots of humans who specialised in specific areas, to be thrown in the deep end and learning it all was super challenging but also very rewarding.

What’s it like being part of a team that works fully remotely?

Like all things it has it strengths and weaknesses. For us it works well in the sense that we’ve got people on the ground across the country to handle person to person sales & build customer relationships face to face. We’ve got people who can actually go out to our customers and interact with them on a personal level, as opposed to talking to them over the phone. Another advantage is that it forces us to really think about the systems and processes we use to allow us to work flexibly and remotely.

So with all our team online, all of our administration and processes are run through the web. We use Google Docs and cloud based services so we’re really portable in that respect! As a team we make a conscious effort to keep in touch regularly on Skype and hangouts, and tee up meetings where everyone dials in. Once or twice a month we’ll also get together in person as well, which is a great chance for everyone to catch up!

I guess the downsides, especially if you’re working from home is that it can get quite lonely! Cabin fever can start creeping in, and without working directly alongside others sometimes you can find yourself stuck on certain tasks, and can’t just quickly ask for a helping hand.

How did you find out about coworking, and what triggered the move?

Working full-time out of the home office was taking it’s toll — to be honest I got to the point where even the thought of going into my home office became too much of a task that I just didn’t enjoy.

“I think this is partly because I’d gone through so much stress within the walls of my home office. Starting the business, getting it off the ground, battling constant issues, I was beginning to associate that stress with that environment.”

This is where my search began, I needed to split my work and life and find that balance. I was craving the social interactions with other people, and it became apparent that I needed this to bring back the passion for what I was doing. I started off working out of cafes and libraries and that did help a bit, just getting out and working out of new environments was a start, it also helped structure my day a little. The issue was that I wasn’t surrounded by people I got to really interact with. What I missed from working for SLI Systems was the discussions that I would have with my colleagues about things that we were interested in. The Cafe vibe was more, put your headphones on and get sh*t done whilst having a coffee.

So I started looking into and researching coworking spaces. I’d been familiar with the term of shared workspaces through it’s rising trend on blogs, but I’d never gone and checked one out in person.”

I started to notice after going to a few events and meet-ups, that I kept bumping into people saying that they’d just started to work out of this new space and how awesome it was! I attended a Javascript meet-up and got chatting about how I was looking for a coworking space, a dude mentioned I should check out this new place which at just opened up in New Brighton called Argo, it’s in a great spot and looking at getting some humans through the door.

So I came home and thought about it for a while, and decided that I’d go have a nosey. Immediately from walking through the door it just ticked all the boxes, the fact that it was just starting out was a bonus because it meant I was able to get involved, and really have a say as a founding member of the community! Being a stones throw away from the beach for me is just the best thing I could wish for, originally being from the far North I grew up at the beach and since moving to Canterbury I felt like I’d been missing out just a bit! Living rurally and remotely in Christchurch, a desk by the beach takes the cake — I’d really like to get into surfing.

Morning meeting — afternoon surf!

What does the future look like for Fleetpin?

It’s looking great, we’re scaling well and both our client base and team are steadily growing! Working out of Argo has been so beneficial for us a company, and we feel we can comfortably grow alongside them. Even when it does get to the point where we need a space of our own if that ever happens, I still see us basing members of the team in spaces like Argo.

I feel like breaking out of one’s normal work environment is super refreshing, and I believe it helps with creativity and productivity.

What’s your outlook on “The Future of Work”?

Coworking, because working from home is overrated. I can see large companies and corporates having their own coworking eco-systems embedded within them.

With the ever changing nature of start-ups and small businesses, and where you might just be a solo founder or a team of two, if you’re over working out of the home office and you can’t afford to be leasing your own office, coworking is the perfect solution. Obviously cost can play a big part in one’s decision to join a coworking space, when compared to the cost of working from home. On the same token, when you take into account the benefits you get, the ability to work alongside like minded people, and networking opportunities both professionally and socially, it just makes sense.

Anything you’d like to add?

If I’d done this all over again from the start, there is no doubt I would of started out of a coworking space. The conversations you have, the help and support you receive, and the people you’ll meet is priceless. Isolating myself and working alone I feel I took on a lot of extra work and stress. When if I’d actually been out and surrounded myself with other people in similar situations from the get go, I reckon it would of sped up a lot of process and just taken unnecessary weight off my own shoulders!

A big thank you to Justin for taking the time to share his journey with us! If you’re in the Christchurch area and looking for a space to work with beach views, Argo Coworking may just be the place for you! If you feel like checking the space out, jump onto CoLo and book yourself a hotdesk, Argo are currently running a $10 deal through till the end of September.

Don’t have a code? Sign up for your $10 hotdesk here! Select Argo Beach Coworking in the drop down.

Work from Argo for free!

Need a workspace to get that idea off the ground or take your business to the next level? CoLo’s good mates & partner space ARGO have something pretty awesome up for grabs!

Six months full-time coworking for FREE! This scholarship is focused on nurturing the regeneration of the New Brighton business community, offering savvy entrepreneurs an opportunity to bring their business to a rebuilding seaside destination and work in an environment designed to help you thrive.

Applications close on the 15th of September, six successful applicants will be announced on the 22nd of September.

So, what have you got to lose? Follow the link below for more details and get your applications in!

Find out more about the Argo Coworking scholarship.

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