The HUB is really proud of what Andrew is doing with the new space and we are fully behind him to make this a success. We have watched how he has grown Mashup Lab in our space and it's really exciting to see how he helps others do the same in this beautiful new co-working space.
Andrew will remain a member of the HUB, so don't worry you will not be missing out on any of that awesomeness, and he will still be taking Mashup and the Awesome Foundation on tour including events at the HUB.
So as Andrew describes it on his new site, if you are a FREELANCER, ENTREPRENEUR or INDEPENDENT and you live in the Bridgewater area or thereabouts, go check out the new space and let CO3 pump some inspiration and support into your start up or business.
Don't forget our event this Thursday!
Thursday 18th February, 7pm-9pm
Personal Tax - Tips and Tricks
This is the first event as part of our 2016 partnership with Belliveau Veinotte Chartered Accountants. Join us to hear some of their tips and track for personal taxes and bring your questions to the table. This will be an interactive session with a short presentation up front, followed by an open floor question and answer session.
We are excited to announce a partnership with Belliveau Veinotte Chartered Accountants for 2016. They will be offering advice and support to HUB membership and free events to the HUB community (you!). Here's a bit about Belliveau Veinotte and why they are doing this:
"As a member of the AC Group of locally owned and independent accounting firms across Atlantic Canada, AC Belliveau Veinotte Inc. is committed to providing professional services to clients while giving back to our communities. AC Belliveau Veinotte Inc provides personal and corporate tax services, business advisory services, HST advice, business valuation and estate planning services throughout the South Shore and Halifax.
As part of our commitment to the area all AC Group firms have endeavored to identify a local business to provide a yearlong mentorship program. We are pleased to be parterning with the Hub South Shore and its members to use our experiences and expertise to aide the Hub and its members in growing their businesses."
Below is what we have planned for 2016 in more detail:
Events running though the year
Different members of the Belliveau Veinotte team will do public seminars at the HUB, whether it is over a Q&A sandwich lunch or a more formal evening presentation. We have some events already on the books and the subsequent events will be tailored to the questions and concerns raised throughout the days at the HUB and at the first series of events. Here's what already firmed up:
Open for questions once a month at the HUB
Different members of the Belliveau Veinotte team will work in the HUB office space once a month. They will be made available to all HUB members for questions or concerns. The Belliveau Veinotte team has expertise including HST, US tax, personal tax, corporate tax, business advisory and business valuations to hopefully find the answers folks are looking for. As Michael from Beliveau Veinotte said:
Collaboration and more to come ...
Lastly, we'd like to say that we are proud to be partnering with Belliveau Veinotte in this way. It is a great example of the collaboration and openness to work across differences that this region needs to further reinvigorate and sustain our economy and communities. Watch this space, more to come ...
Hello! It's great to welcome you to our new website and our new brand. We feel like it reflects the new space, the growing membership and changing culture of HUB South Shore. The consistency of the new branding also extends across all our social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and on our Youtube channel .
The website and brand have been created in collaboration with Meg Craig-Wiens from Skysail Brand . Meg is a HUB member and total gift to the community. Her designers eye, commitment to quality and patience with all three of our often very different opinions has been incredible.
The concept of the logo is that it is a container you can fill with your own meaning and passion , which is exactly like the purpose of our business! The decals on the windows mean that you look through the logo into the room - quite literally what you see through the HUB, is the HUB. It sounds simple - but it took us a while to get there.
The tag line "where the new economy works" speaks to what we think is an essential and hitherto largely invisible part of the local economy. When we started the HUB South Shore we thought it would be just the three of us sharing an office space but more and more people have kept joining. To the point where we have had to move, and since the relocation have added eight new members with more waiting in the wings.
It is quite remarkable to discover this whole network of small, progressive and courageous entrepreneurs that contribute to the local economy but have never been integrated into any economic strategy. This emerging new economy is not the silver bullet for our communities but we do believe it is an essential piece of the picture for what is going to keep our rural lives and livelihoods viable.
I can't leave this blog with out out a huge shout out to Hailey Thomson. Her incredible vision on the interior design for the renovation and her unfailing hard work in the space to get it done have been nothing short of superhuman. Throw in Matt and Dave's mighty efforts, often into the small hours and a host of volunteers coming in whenever they could and you get the ingredients that have made the magic of the new HUB South Shore on Main Street.
We hope you will be hearing some more from Hailey on this blog about the reno and her inspiration for interior design. For now, you can follow her on her own blog at Here nor There.
Enjoy the new website. It is an invitation to come in and enjoy the new space.
Last week I gave a presentation on where the HUB is at and where we are going. We are doing a few of these to let people know what we’re up to. If you think you have a good venue for us to present, drop Tim a line at email@example.com . If you want to get caught up yourself, you can see a video of the presentation here:
There were about 10 people, half of whom worked for government agencies, one from a chamber of commerce, one from NSCC and a couple of community change leaders. This was not a pitch for funding (we just don’t seem to fit most of the boxes), it was an exploration of what partnership might look like. There was a lot of curiosity in the room as we went round the table to do introductions. The presentation was well received and people were excited about what we were up to. We are now exploring partnerships with Mash Up Lab and Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre around events and talking to Economic Rural Development and Tourism about some specific support for the expansion. We also got some really interesting feedback which I’ll share here:
There’s a tension between us being a for profit business and an entity that has positive social and economic impact. People want to partner and invest because of the social impact but feel weird about it because it goes towards building our profit based business. We don’t have an answer but it keeps coming up from lots of different angles. All the money made in the business so far has been re-invested but we do feel like we are moving towards a model that will make us a modest income in exchange for all the work we have put in. We have felt since the beginning that if we are to set up a space for entrepreneurs it has to be entrepreneurial in nature - therefore we ruled out a non-profit or charitable route.
As we expand onto main street we need to think about how we engage the main stream - town council, chamber of commerce, tourism, festivals etc There was big call for us to turn up in places of local decision making and influence to share what we are up to and be a voice for change. We talk about this a lot and the only way it does not feel like a burden is when it is serving our members and our businesses. We have to figure out a way in which our participation in some of these bodies would be a benefit to our businesses and our members' businesses. We are scheduled to speak to Mahone Bay Town Council to share our direction, we are hosting a focus group with our members for the local Economic Development Committee and plan to present to the Chamber of Commerce in the coming months. We know that if we remain a silo of activity and learning we are part of the problem - so we have to figure it out.
If we are modelling being progressive - how is that shown in our energy use and governing structure? Great feedback on how our energy sources could be more green, how we could shift our governance towards a more participatory or co-operative model. There is lots to explore here and we are excited to do it. The main thing we need is time and capacity to figure these things out. We do tend to follow the simplest route available because all three of us are so busy with families and our already existing businesses.
It felt like a great conversation and has spurred me on to want to do more. Check out the video if you want some more details on what we’re up to. We welcome your opinion on where we are going if you’re ready to act on it!
As we prepare to move into our awesome new space we are faced with several exciting financial challenges, and figuring it out is a lot of fun.
- How do we prioritise our budget?
- How do we increase our budget?
- Do we increase membership fees?
- Do we change the membership model?
- oh, and a hundred others…
Increasing the budget beyond that is not easy, yet again we seem to find ourselves out of reach for any government funding, and to be honest we are quite proud of the fact that we have built this business on our own steam and membership fees.
So the next option is to increase membership fees. Well that is not as easy as you might think. Firstly we always want to be value for money, not just in the sense that we offer cheaper space than other places, but we always want to make sure that members are getting awesome ‘other’ benefits from being a member, such as meeting space, events and programming. Are we suddenly the best co-working space in the world just because we move house? No we are not. We are definitely going to offer a better service, but price changes have to be aligned with not only our increase in rent but also our increase in awesomeness.
There is also a lot of strategy to price changes, it may look like we just like all of our prices having a 9 in them, but there is more to it that that. We realised that we never have drop ins for the day, so we are reverting to a new hourly rate. We feel that with our new social area and kitchen we can now attract people in for a quick hit of Hubness and a coffee. But, that price then affects the 1 day a week rate, we have to make sure that people are not cheaper just paying by the hour than taking out a membership. There is absolutely no denying this model works because of recurring memberships. There is no way we could do this without a clear idea of how much we are taking in each month.
Therefore the new hourly rate led us to remove the one day membership and revert to a part-time/full-time model. Going forward we will have a 2 day (part-time) membership and a 5 day (full-time) membership. Full-time will have the flexibility to choose if you have a permanent desk or a locker where you can put your stuff at night. We also decided to remove the clip card option mainly because it is problematic to manage, but also because again in impacts on our new hourly rate. So here are our new rates effective April 1st.
To anyone interested in opening a co-working space I would definitely say stay flexible. This will be our 3rd or 4th iteration and in 3 months we will probably change again. You have to listen to your members while having some imagination and courage to change something that already works. And it definitely helps having someone like Matt who keeps me grounded when I want to have 15 different memberships to suit everyone. Know who you are and know who your customers are!
So after all of that we still don’t know how we are going to afford new chairs, it seems a chair in Canada is more expensive than buying a new home. Hailey will figure it all out though and it definitely is a case of Sofa so good.
The pictures speak for themselves. The freshly sanded floors are looking awesome, and Hailey has found the perfect sofa for the best little coworking space on the South Shore. But we’re in that (fun) phase where, for every problem you solve, three more appear. Next we need to figure out desks, and ethernet switches, and power sockets, and phone lines, and drywall, and security alarms, and, and, and…
Seriously, it’s looking awesome. If you’re patroniszing the pub, go and press your nose up to the windows downstairs.
Now since you ask, there are a few things we’d love input on:
PS Sorry for the punny title, I hope it doesn’t sit badly with you.
We’re moving to the Old Mader’s Wharf building. Until recently, the space was occupied by The Emporium, a consignment antique store, but the store has now closed, and the space is almost empty. With Tim recently back from his long trip to the US and Costa Rica, and a bitter wind blowing through town, the three of us got together on Saturday to talk about the move, the space, and the future. As you can see from the picture, it was a bit cold on Saturday, and the heating has been off for a fortnight!
The HUB has been ticking along nicely recently, but Saturday was a throw-back to the winter of 2012–13, when we spent many evenings hashing out what The HUB South Shore could or should become. Now it exists, so the conversation is different — less uncertain, more based in evidence — but the feeling of starting something new is back again. It’s a good feeling.
The next two or three months will be a joyride of planning, designing, renovating, and moving. HUB member Meg Craig of Skysail will be doing refresh of the HUB’s visual identity (not the name though!). Dave’s wife Hailey Thomson (check out her awesome blog) will be designing the physical space. And you dear reader, are welcome to send any tips or thoughts about the new space our way! We’re all ears.
You may have heard.
2014 was a quiet year for the HUB. Early in the year we reached a kind of equilibrium. We had about 20 members, and our room at the Mahone Bay Centre usually had about half a dozen people in it. The prevailing atmosphere was one of industriousness. With enough people, we largely stopped looking for new members. And with a lot of community activity around NOW Lunenburg County, Mashup Lab, Awesome South Shore, and everything else that’s going on around here these days, we’ve ramped down on events too.
It felt like in 2012 we saw this need, in 2013 we figured it out, and in 2014 we met it. Awesome!
But the community is still small — still only about 20 people. We’re sure there are more out there, but haven’t been able to accommodate more people — until now. Or rather, until about April, when we’ll move down to the ground floor of the Mader’s Wharf building on Main Street. Classic South Shore: on the shore of the bay, on a busy rural high street, under a great pub, in an old wharf warehouse. About 2000 square feet of it. It’s going to be amazing.
There’s a bit of work to do before we can move. We’ll try to get back on the blogging wagon with updates on progress. There will be a party. Watch this space.
There is a very clear distinction between what being a member of The HUB can offer you in comparison to a traditional co-working space. It’s that part you can’t put a price on, the part where people on the outside perhaps don’t understand because they have never been on the inside, it’s the community…
In Lean Startup we try to establish the value proposition for our customers, why would someone pay to become a member of The HUB South Shore? Well it’s that word again, community, and I’m going to prove to you that it’s real.
I look back to early October when Tim, Matt and I did our first video, I was a nervous wreck sitting beside these 2 awesome confident guys and I really felt like I did not belong there. Fast forward 6 months and I’m doing a live interview on Global TV. Where did this new found confidence come from? Well it comes from spending time with amazing like-minded people—people who teach me, challenge me, and ultimately motivate and inspire me.
But it doesn’t end there. I am now connected to skills that enable me to move my business forward and do great work in situations which were previously unavailable to me working in isolation. I can use Stephen and Katy at The Picture House for video, Zsofi’s company Tangerine Sky for amazing graphic design, I can collaborate in development work with Chris at Media Farm. I can enter into the type of contracts which were previously inaccessible to me. And if I’m feeling tired from all of that I have Jason over at Peak Performance Therapy for some strength training.
The community also spreads organically into our lives outside of work. My wife has set up a playgroup in the Mahone Bay Centre which is filled with kids connected through their parents to The HUB. Many of the families are becoming great friends and get together often. We also have Sunday night soccer, started by Tim for parents at the Waldorf School, but now full of HUB followers.
So if you are thinking of joining The HUB South Shore don’t think of this as just co-working. You will of course have an awesome space to work, after all this is what we are here for. However, the real value proposition is the community of smart progressive business people who will inspire you and support you, and you may just make some new friends along the way.
A couple of weeks ago CBC radio journalist Zak Markan came to Mahone Bay to meet me and the family, then we headed over to The HUB to chat to Matt about moving to the area, and starting up this project.
His piece aired on Monday morning, you can listen to it on CBC’s website.
The visit of Premier Darrell Dexter and MLA Pam Birdsall to The HUB on Friday brought much attention and excitement to Mahone Bay. A quick coffee at the fabulous Biscuit Eaterand it was over to the MBC for some great chat about the future of The HUB (South Shore and beyond) and Nova Scotia, and in particular how they are an integral part of each others DNA.
It was particularly refreshing to hear that our belief that a hidden economy exists in rural Nova Scotiais shared at high political levels. And how encouraging to hear that something is being done to give that economy a voice.
There is a realisation that Nova Scotia is an attractive option for Canadians to start their own business, as well as an amazing opportunity for come-from-aways to come and start a new life. This is affirmed by the governments committment to increasing the number of immigrants and also supporting them to settle into their new way of life. The HUB network can help facilitate the transition.
Our conversation also proved that this is not a 3 man crusade: it is more than Tim, Matt and Dave. This is a movement across Atlantic Canada born out of a need within Rural Communities. As Mauricio Duarte explained, The HUB Annapolis Valley represents a need to keep local talent local, with increasing numbers of young brainiac’s heading to Halifax and beyond.
Alastair Jarvis made the point that Halfax is the centre of gravity, but The HUB South Shore and other rural hubs can help change that. Tracy and Jo from The HUB Halifax explained that the model for Atlantic Canada cannot be to force a HUB upon a community, rather than to let the need for one provide the catalyst and they like the rest of us will be there to connect and support it.
However, as explained to the Premier these Hubs do not come without a cost, the major stumbling block for many hubs being start up cost. The founders of The HUB South Shore lead a fortunate life with the capacity to invest personal income, supported amazingly by the Mahone Bay Centre and the incredible volunteers who work there. However, not all hubs are in this position, and investment is required to make them become a reality. Our meeting today was a great opportunity to highlight the problems we all face, and to acknowledge that we are not alone.
By the end of today, we will have a corporation, a bank account, and insurance. It feels good — finally we have a formal container for the energy, ideas, and resources we will use to build a coworking and cocreating space in Mahone Bay. Incorporation doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just a piece of paper, but it feels like a milestone.
It’s good to mark time. Here are the milestones we’ve passed so far:
February — We started meeting, and drinking beer, in Dave’s home office
8 March — We met with Jo at The HUB Halifax to talk about HUBs
22 May —Our first exploration session with local entrepreneurs
19 June —Another exploration session with local starters and shakers
20 August —The realization that We Need To Do Something
September —Lots of activity, meetings, decisions, recording some video
25 October —Incorporated
22 November — a bank account, a website, and a blog post!
There will be many more milestones. Some are so close they are palpable — leasing the space in the Mahone Bay Centre, starting the renovations, our first subscribers, our launch party, opening the doors…
These are all very exciting, but the best ones of all come after lift-off. The first new business to start up in the space. The first business to outgrow the space. The first community event at which someone has their million-dollar idea. The first member to make a million dollars. The first person to start out on their own just because the HUB is there for them.
Yes, those are the ones we’re looking forward to.