Sammamish man creates ‘space’ for home business owners

Mary Decker, Reporter for The Redmond Reporter wrote an article in the June 14th newspaper about thinkspace.  “Like many of his Sammamish neighbors, entrepreneur Peter Chee thought it would be wonderful to work at home. Instead, he felt isolated. He missed the atmosphere…: Here’s a link to the article.

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Walk Score helps calculate community connectivity for office neighborhoods and LEED Certification

A local Seattle company, Walk Score, has just launched a new service to calculate the walkability of your neighborhood.  I don’t think I can better state what their service is so here’s a quote from their website: “We help people find houses and apartments in walkable neighborhoods. Walk Score shows you a map of what’s nearby and calculates a Walk Score for any property. Living in a walkable neighborhood is good for the environment and good for your health.”

The reason I like this tool is because it visually shows where all the area ammenties are in relation to your address.  When deciding where to run your business you should look for a building that has a high Walk Score.  Having a higher Walk Score, can provide local businesses with foot traffic to help sustain their business.

As soon as I saw this website, I wanted to see what my Walk Score was for our office space in Redmond.  We managed to score a 95 out of 100 possible points.  It’s important for businesses to be operating in a building that has high community connectivity.  I’m always looking to do business locally with other businesses in Redmond, rather than sending my business off to other cities.

The other useful thing that I can see this service being used for is for LEED Certification.  The first thing that is on the USGBC LEED Certification checklist is Sustainable Sites and Community Connectivity.  In order to get points toward your LEED certification your building has pedestrian access to at least 10 of the basic services below within ½ mile:

  • 1) Bank; 2) Place of Worship; 3) Convenience Grocery; 4) Day Care; 5) Cleaners; 6) Fire Station; 7) Hair Care; 8) Hardware; 9) Laundry; 10) Library; 11) Medical/Dental; 12) Senior Care Facility; 13) Park; 14) Pharmacy; 15) Post Office; 16) Restaurant; 17) School; 18) Supermarket; 19) Commercial Office; 20) Community Center, and other recognized services evaluated on their merit.

The one thing that Walk Score does not factor in is alternative transportation.  They are aware of this and have an FAQ that addresses this on their website.  I think my Walk Score would be even higher if they included this as we are located right next to the Redmond Transit Center.  If they expanded their service to include this, it would help with another LEED Certification Category of “Alternate Transportation: Public Transportation”.  The requirement for that is: 

  • Tenant to select building within ½ mile of a commuter rail, light rail or subway station or ¼ mile of two or more public or campus bus lines usable by tenant occupants.

I’m very happy with Walk Score and have added their Walk Score Real Estate Tile onto the thinkspace website location page.  I think it helps show why our location is ideal for coworking space and where people are looking for high community connectivity.

Blogging for your Business

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Steve Broback, co-author of “Blogging for your Business“.  We had a very interesting conversation inside the thinkspace office.  He addressed me initially as the “the blogger”.  I was humored by that comment.  I was glad that he knew that thinkspace had a blog before he had even toured our space.  During our conversation I asked him what kind of work does his business do and he stated that he was an author and handed me his book.

I’m a bit of an information freak and quickly read the entire book.  In the past, I’ve googled the topic of business blogging a lot and read a lot of different blog posts.  I’ve always been a bit skeptical about what I was reading because I always felt like some SEO company is trying to sell me something.  I enjoyed reading this book because it didn’t feel like I had to buy something at the end.   Rather there were a lot of different practical ideas being introduced and discussed.  Chapter 7 “Launching Your Blog and Getting Noticed” was my favorite chapter in the book. I’ve tried a few techniques that were in “How to engage the Blogosphere” and got immediate results.  Understanding the rules of engagement is critical.  Getting other bloggers attention requires a bit more savvy than having a press release blasted out through the newswire.

I believe that blogging for your business is critical if you want to engage your customers in what you’re doing.  Your customers become much more educated in what you are doing, it can show them what makes your product or services unique, and allows you to stands out from the crowd.  One of the keys to being successful at business blogging is bringing something new to the table.  Don’t be a part of the “echo chamber”.  “Use your unique personal experience and knowledge to create original content that others can regurgitate.”  I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking to start a blog for their business.

Find a restaurant in your neighborhood and save gas by ordering online

A friend of mine, Julia May, founded a company called “Clickeats”. The company provides online ordering for restaurants. Julia and developer Jay Karlin provide the technology and engine to any restaurants that wishes to provide their customers online ordering. Since most restaurant owners don’t have the time to setup a website and building out an online ordering component is not feasible, this gives restaurants a very quick way to be online at a reasonable price.

Clickeats has a restaurant search tool that allows you to filter by many different things. For example, I tried to do a search by organic Japanese food, provides catering, and is in Redmond. The Clickeats engine then displays a list of restaurants that meet that criteria. You can even sort by things like does the restaurant provide delivery. With gas prices so high, I don’t want to be driving anywhere if I don’t have to. So, naturally, I’m looking for restaurants that are in my neighborhood, where I can walk over to them, or they can deliver the food to me.

Eastside Business Journal discusses how Thinkspace offers tenants the chance to “Be Green”

The Eastside Business Journal published an article about thinkspace on May 22.  The full article can be found here.  Here are a few highligts from the article.

Thanks to thinkspace, almost any small start-up company can overcome daunting obstacles, costs and compliance issues to become a certified “green” business from day one. 

“Many small businesses find it advantageous to market themselves as ‘green’,” states Mary Benz, Vice President of Operations at thinkspace.  “thinkspace makes this green opportunity available to any size business.”

I’m am quoted as saying “Fortune 500 companies can build LEED certified office space if they choose but for the small guy, it is much more difficult. ”

A variety of office sizes and configurations are available, ranging from single offices to 1,000 sq. feet of space for a team of employees.  Additionally, “coworking space” is an option that makes shared-space available on a daily or monthly fee basis.

Our approach to how we named our business “thinkspace”

After we had written the business plan we started to brainstorm company names.  Initially, we came up with direct, descriptive, on-target names like “Redmond Executive Offices”, “Redmond Office Space”, and “Redmond Executive Suites” but these names lacked any imagination and were downright boring.  I just could not see myself or anyone that we hired coming to work excited about the company and what we do.  So we abandoned the direct approach and went with the creative approach to naming our company.

This reminded me of an experience that I had back in 1999 when I was at a Internet startup company funded by Maveron. Maveron is backed by Howard Shultz. Therefore, it was natural for the marketing and branding company that came up with the name Starbucks was also hired to name the Internet startup company.  The marketing company referred to the creative approach as the “empty vessel” approach to naming a company. My participation in that process was not until the marketing company had come up with eight different concepts.  At that point they presented the ideas on black poster board with logos and names.  Most of the names were not real words, but a combination of two words or parts of words.  Going through that experience helped provide with a reference point on how I might approach this.  During my naming research, I ran across a very good blog article from “The Name Inspector” which states: “Forget that “empty vessel” stuff–most good names are not empty vessels, they’re just indirect”.

While going through the indirect process, I was thinking about words that could represent office space without using the words “executive offices” or “executive suites”. I wanted the name to represent our commitment to sustainability without using the trendy words like “eco” or “green” pre-pended to another word.  I also wanted a word that works with our coworking space, which to me is really each person’s “think space”.  Lastly, I wanted something that could represent “virtual office” without using those words. That is when the name “thinkspace” came into my head.  I immediately knew that this was it.  I liked the fact that it was short, memorable, easy to spell, and limitless.  I also liked the fact that when I tell people my email address I don’t have to spell the word out.  Some domain names are so hard to spell it’s hard for people to write it down correctly.  When I read a definition of the word space it stated: “The unlimited expanse in which all things exist”.  I thought that was a pretty cool tie in to our company and what we’re trying to achieve.

As a sanity check, I bounced it the name “thinkspace” off my brother Steve and sister Leaming.  Steve immediately said he liked it too.  He said “I like it because of what you are doing with the carbon neutral stuff, it is encouraging people to think outside the box, their work environment and the environment around them”.  I appreciate my wife, Steve, and Leaming for contributing with the brainstorming process and being a sounding board.

The image at the top of this post was taken from Visual Thesaurus.  I’m amazed at how engaging this tool is and how much fun it is to learn about words.

Buildings represent the greatest opportunity for considerable reductions in CO2 emissions.

 On March 13th, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) issued a report stating “buildings represent the greatest opportunity for considerable reductions in CO2 emissions”.

“Every year, buildings in North America cause more than 2,200 megatons of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere, about 35 percent of the continent’s total CO2 emissions.  In the United States alone, the total built floor space covers over 27 billion square meters, or more than five and a half times the size of Grand Canyon National Park.  According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, buildings represent the greatest opportunity for considerable reductions in CO2 emissions, with net economic benefit.”

If buildings are the greatest opportunity to reducing CO2 emissions, then what are the barriers?  The report stated “The barriers to doing improvements to existing buildings is understanding the lifecycle costs of the building.  Understanding the life-cycle costs of a building is still a significant challenge.”  Another barrier is split incentive.  “Often the one paying the bill and the one capturing the benefits differ.  A developer may not be interested in paying for green features when the benefits will be passed on to the new owners or tenants.”

“Green building will help ensure North American competitiveness in the global market for products, technologies, and practices essential to North America’s future. Such products, technologies, and practices include heating and cooling systems, advanced building materials, water-reclamation systems, high efficiency appliances, energy efficient lighting, construction and demolition debris recycling, and many more.”

I would highly recommend that you download the entire report from the CEC.