How Design Can Help Plan for Growth
With the unpredictable rate of growth in startups, their office space needs to be able to accommodate almost anything. Metropolis asked three companies that topped Forbes’ list of hottest startups how they planned for expansion at the onset of their business.
Inside the New York office of Handy, a start-up company that provides on-demand home services.
Starting a business involves many things. Most importantly, a well thought-out business plan—detailing everything from professional fees, marketing strategies and human resources needs—should be number one on a startup’s list of to-dos. Without it, entrepreneurs can find themselves among the 10-to-12 percent who never make it past the first year. But, how do you purchase or lease the right-sized office space with adequate room to grow when future growth is so hard to anticipate? Metropolis asked three companies that topped Forbes’ list of the hottest startups how they planned for expansion at the onset of their business.
Casper: Huge Open Plan
When Casper, a factory-direct mattress startup, launched in April of last year, it was hard to anticipate that they would go from a staff of eight to more than 50 employees in less than a year. After quickly outgrowing its 1,700 square feet office space (now Casper’s New York showroom) in the trendy NoHo neighborhood, the company’s founders came up with a short-term solution that would assist in their long-term plans.
“We decided to move into a temporary space to give the team breathing room while finalizing, building out, and perfecting a large permanent home base,” says Jeannine Seidl, Casper’s communications manager. The startup’s future location will feature an open layout that she says will be “large enough that we can settle in and grow without feeling crowded or overwhelmed.”
Handy: Shift, Mix, and Customize
Fresh off celebrating its third anniversary last May, Handy—which relocated from Boston to New York after a windfall of Series A funding—has grown from a staff of four to more than 150. According to its CEO and co-founder Oisin Hanrahan, the open-floor concept was key to the startup’s increasing human resources needs.
“An open floor concept has allowed us to add new employees quite easily and to shift people around when needed,” says Hanrahan. It also doesn’t hurt that the company’s business mix includes on-demand home improvement services. Handy was able to work with its very own “handymen” to build out a custom kitchen in its 12,000 square-foot-loft in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.
Zenefits: Lose the Ping-pong Table
From a kitchen to a local coffee shop, HR platform provider Zenefits settled on a 2,600-square-foot office back in 2013 when it needed a physical location to house its 50 employees. Now boasting a staff of 1,000, the company has upsized to 18,000-square-feet in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood. According to VP of marketing Matt Epstein, they planned for growth by eliminating unnecessary “play rooms and employee pools” within their “bullpen style” setup.
“We’re the anti-Google because we believe in a no frills, down to business kind of layout” says Epstein. By utilizing every inch of space, he says their team is able to foster a “band of brothers” kind of atmosphere that benefits the company’s overall work culture.
Casper, Handy and Zenefits are three distinctly different companies with varied business needs. Yet, the common thread to their expansion strategy was remaining flexible and scrappy.