Most startups have humble beginnings: a desk in the guest bedroom, the mythical garage, a converted dining room, much to the partner’s chagrin. However, any company that does well is eventually going to find itself hiring on more team members and new team members mean a need for more space.
I’ve talked in the past about methods for furnishing a startup office on a bootstrapped budget but today I want to highlight some great examples of startup offices – from the bedrooms to the boardrooms – on a new site called Office Fetish. Consider it your inspiration board for growth.
Before I get started, though, I want to point out that sites like this aren’t just great for getting interior decorating ideas. They’re also excellent advertisement for the companies that are featured. Considering the fact that I found Office Fetish on Product Hunt – and everyone is reading Product Hunt these days – think about the huge number of people who are currently scrolling through those office pics and reading the descriptions of each company.
You’re a startup. You don’t have a lot of money. Take advantage of free marketing opportunities like this.
And now, to the offices!
The Solo Warrior: Trent Walton, Paravel
The office is a great mix of midcentury and contemporary, with classic chairs, a graphic rug, and accents of color provided by books and pop art. The overall effect is tasteful and expensive looking – but this look can easily be achieved with flea market/secondhand store finds and a couple of choice picks from Ikea.
The Mac, unfortunately, you’re definitely going to have to pay top dollar for.
The Early Startup: Awkward
Early startups are usually characterized by minimal (read: inexpensive) furniture, open office layout, and white walls. Companies at this stage are usually hyper-focused on growth, which means interior decorating takes the back seat both in terms of financing and time expended.
Awkward is a development and design company based in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. While they’ve only been around since 2011, their office has the feel of a much older company, which signifies that they’re probably doing really well.
While the pictures on Office Fetish show that Awkward is working the open office plan, they’ve escaped the bareness so often seen in early stage companies by installing a rich, dark wood on parts of their floor as well as in everything from their computer stands to standing shelves. Their chill out space by the window is more reminiscent of Don Draper than college dormitory, which leather couches and a truly fabulous brass lamp.
They even have a bar/cafeteria that would be at home as a standalone establishment in New York or San Francisco, complete with bike parking. Who says early stage has to be all white walls and laptops?
The Coworking Space: Fueled
Coworking spaces are becoming increasingly popular for both early stage companies and freelancers who are starting to go nuts when they only have their cats to talk to. Fueled is a space that I’ve visited personally – my brother’s company BrandYourself was located there for awhile when they first landed in New York – and it’s hands down one of the coolest spaces I’ve ever seen.
Fueled currently houses 27 startups in addition to their own design and development agency. Their office has all of the startup staples – snacks, unlimited coffee, open office plan – but they’ve figured out a way to present them that’s totally original.
Candies can be found in old jars on shelves made from vintage crates or in tin buckets that have a similar patina. Most of the office is open plan, but there are also separate rooms named for train stations in Britain and decked out in different themes. If you ever find yourself in Fueled, be sure to ask about the secret door. It’s worth it.
The Funded Startup: AdStage
AdStage bills itself as an all-in-one marketing platform “for advertisers of all sizes.” Located in the Financial District of San Francisco, their space stays funky while still putting off the grown-up vibe that a grown-up company should have.
Boasting plenty of natural light, rustic wooden tables, ergonomic chairs, and both open office and private spaces for working, there is nary a nerf gun in sight in this elegant space, although in a couple of pictures it does look like the team is bonding over a board game.
I’m especially digging this seemingly random window. I like it so much that I’ll just ignore that bean bag chair right next to it.
The Big Boy: Envato
Envato has taken some cues from the Silicon Valley tech campuses without being reductive. The company – which is “an ecosystem of sites to help you get creative” – is located in a three story former school in Melbourne, Australia.
While their open office layout is pretty standard for a startup of any size, Envato has done a great job creating a variety of spaces within their larger space for people to get comfortable and interact. They’ve worked with the bones of the school, transforming two old auditoriums into spaces for larger meetings.
They’re also the only company on this list that boasts outdoor space. Something to aspire to, perhaps?