Startups: The Coffee Shop Model
From being in the startup scene for some time, the one thing I have come to realize no entrepreneur or startup vet can resist: a warm cup of joe. It’s a productivity booster, a shared interest among colleagues, an incentive for Monday morning meetings. It is a love and an addiction. But with something so rooted in the startup culture, why not take advantage of that and incorporate that into the culture of your company as well, conducting affairs from the coffee shop itself.
The Cafe Office
The idea behind conducting business at a coffee shop is the informality of the situation. A business meeting with a potential partner is less a business meeting, and more a chat over a latte. An interview with a potential developer is less an interrogation, and more a “get to know you” affair. You get the point. The premise is, companies are turning to a much more modern and open approach to business, and with the way of the world rapidly evolving into the digital age, cafes and coffee shops are becoming a great place to change the pace of the everyday office environment; take a break from your everyday routine. Who knows what a change in scenery, even for an hour once a week can do. A developer can telecommute while on vacation. Your sales force can access their CRM on the fly out in the field, or meet a potential client at a neutral spot. A CEO who knows he will need more engineers soon: why wait when you can invite several to meet up for a cup, building sound relationships outside of business, for when the time comes to hire. The implications are endless.
Mark Suster, entrepreneur turned VC wrote an article last month around the idea of taking 50 Coffee Meetings. The point being, getting yourself out of the comfort zone of your cubicle and creating relationships. If you were to take fifty coffee meetings and only one of them panned into something beneficial two years down the road, that’s one more than you would have otherwise. While not everyone within a startup is in the relationship building world, setting up meetings and the like, I still see great value in this challenge. Set a goal of fifty times, even twenty times, within the next year, getting out and being productive in a different environment. Even for an hour or a half hour at a time. Read your emails on a park bench outside your office. Have your Monday morning meeting over a bagel. In this day in age, a company’s physical location is no longer the office, nor is a coffee shop. The office is what you make of it. Give it a shot.