I am writing this post from the Majoran Distillery in Adelaide after my first official day of “coworking”. The Majoran Distillery is a space for digital entrepreneurs to collaborate and share ideas in an environment that’s intends to encourage innovation and lift the status of the Adelaide startup community.
I recently discovered the existence of the Distillery after searching for WordPress meetup groups in Adelaide. When I looked at the details of a recent event I was surprised to find it was held in a coworking space. This sparked my interest and I spent the next 4 hours researching it and imagining what it would be like to be involved.
The Majoran Distillery was founded midway through 2012 and has already moved into a new home after outgrowing its first. It’s based on similar concepts all over the world, including Fishburners in Sydney and York Butter Factory in Melbourne. Here I believe there are about 25 full-time members, ranging from accountants, to freelance developers, to accomplished business people working on their second startups! The basic idea is that you rent a desk in the space on a casual or monthly basis. They give you a chair and wifi, and you sit there and do work. Simple. Of course there’s the added benefit that the guy sitting to your left is a Ruby on Rails expert, and the guy to the right is a social network guru. There are regular workshops and guest speakers hosted in the space. I’ve also heard rumours of hackathons. You can book rooms to meet with your clients, and even use the Distillery as your registered business address. If you want to be involved in the Adelaide startup scene then this is the place to be!
So why am I doing this? I have a nice comfortable office at home that’s effectively rent free, so why am I looking at paying $300 per month for a full-time membership? Well the simple answer is for the experience. Most of my time in the industry has been very focussed on high level government work. Budgets are huge, required returns on investment are minimal, and projects drag on forever. I have never really worked with people doing things on the same scale as I am, and often I’m just flying blind. Another reason is that I miss interacting with real human beings on a regular basis, and I have a real need to bounce ideas of like-minded developers. I’m could easily write the cost of the Distillery off as training because I’m going to be able to interact with so many amazing and accomplished business people. I believe those opportunities will be priceless. If I can’t earn an extra $300 a month through the contacts I make in this place then I’m doing something wrong! (A great example is a guy who joined the distillery less than 2 months ago, and in that time he’s hooked up a connection with a rising startup and is flying off to Silicon Valley to work!)
After a full day working here, I was surprised at the level of productivity. I imagined that the place would be noisier with more interaction, but people here are very focussed. There’s certainly a lot of collaboration going on but most people are just getting things done. The building is a lovely old space above a pub, albeit a little outdated but with lots of character. The main coworking area is bright and open, with a comfortable level of noise coming from the street. There is a real buzz to the place that adds to the energy.
I haven’t quite felt the sense of community here yet, with people arriving at different times and their gazes being locked into their monitors. It’s just like any new workplace, and I suspect after a week I’ll be completely involved and spending more time helping out than actually working. The ones who I have spoken to are very nice, and it’s quite a nice change to be in a group of highly motivated entrepreneurial people. It’s actually quite intimidating, but there’s nothing like being the smallest fish in the pond for encouragement! I was invited into the official Facebook group today, and there’s a good level of conversation going on there.
I’ve signed up for a month just to see how it fits with the way I work, but I predict this will turn into a long-term thing. I can already see the potential and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunities that this place can bring! If you’re even just a little bit interested, check out their website or come for a visit after lunch on a Friday afternoon for “Open House Fridays”. I’ll keep posting updates as I discover more, but that’s nothing like being here in person.
I hope to see you around the distillery soon!
Tonight on the local news there was a report about Adelaide’s startup community that included the Majoran Distillery! It’s only a couple of minutes, so make sure you watch it on the Yahoo 7 website!