Moving Into the West End Well
I didn't start OpenConcept because I was interested in business, I started this company because I saw the Internet as being a vehicle of much needed change in our world. So when thinking about the future of my business, I had pretty non-traditional way of looking at growth.
My initial inspirations about OpenConcept as a business started around a kitchen table over 15 years ago, and in much of this time has been spent around a kitchen table. What I knew was that progressive organizations needed to be better at collaborating with each other and that open source web tools were one way to accomplish this.
I chose to build my business around my family. This was allowed me to juggle challenges at home and work. More importantly though it embedded my values into the business.
We've very much been a start-up company looking for ways to bootstrap our costs as we grew. We took the rather unusual step of keeping the company headquarters in my home, so that we could save costs on rent. Fortunately, the business has been growing, but unfortunately my house was not.
We had looked at purchasing a mixed use building which would allow us to grow, but still provide us with the family atmosphere that OpenConcept had been built on. Sadly, buying a home in a residential neighborhood and converting it into an office would meet considerable resistance from many city planners.
As we grow we have been spending more time defining things from our practices to our values. This is important both in how we communicate with the world, but also how we understand ourselves.
In the midst of this we were informed about an interesting initiative to build a community coop that was trying to bring together a community interested in building a sustainable business model here in Ottawa. In looking at their values, we saw a lot of commonality with ours. When it became clear that we could rent part of the upstairs of this venture, it was immediately something we were interested in.
It's been a longer process than I think any of us had imagined, but fortunately we've been able to be flexible. We're now settled into our new location, upstairs at 969 Wellington Street West.
Already we are finding that it is a terrific location for serendipitous exchanges with people who are dropping by the Well for lunch, picking up fresh peaches or coming to a meeting to learn more about OREC.
We are also sharing our space with the Well. We are using the board room in the day and groups involved with the Well can book both the board room and our main office space in the evenings/weekends. We feel this provides us with a very efficient way to make use of this space. I'm happy we're able to provide flexible work environment.
We look forward to seeing our clients more as we are more engaged with the community at the Well.
About The Author
Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.