Great Photography Makes A Difference

We are often asked by clients how they can make their listing more appealing,  so they can arrive at a transaction faster. We have heard from users that they wanted to see more photos, so we dug into our data to see if there was a correlation. It turns out that listings with more photos are not only viewed more but they also receive more inquiries.

Photo Stats Final

We knew that good photos couldn’t hurt, but we were surprised by how much they actually caused the interest to spike.  In response, we decided to launch a new photography service for our users.

We had the opportunity to photograph the former head office of Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC), which is currently available for lease. As a great Canadian company, we were excited to have a look inside their office and reveal the quality of the materials, and the space upon which the future tenant can build their business.

149 W 4th Ave (14)

149 W 4th Ave (1)

149 W 4th Ave (3)

149 W 4th Ave (4)

149 W 4th Ave (7)

149 W 4th Ave (2)

149 W 4th Ave (16)

We wanted to capture what it’s like to work in the neighborhood, so we included images of the nearby false creek neighbourhood and Olympic Village Canada Line Station.

Neighbourhood (1)

Neighbourhood (2)

Before and After final

Our photography service will initially be released in the Vancouver area. If you’re interested in giving your listing a boost, send us an email at or give us a call at 1.855.387.8771.


Doing The Right Thing

In a startup there is no more important task than choosing what to do. Even a minor improvement in focus can yield huge results. With better decisions you can get away with a smaller team, less overhead, and less outside funding.




The Problem

By most measures 2013 was a huge success for our startup. All our core metrics improved substantially, but our product didn’t change much. We were getting bogged down with small features, maintenance and bug fixes but failed to deliver big improvements to the user experience.

We keep track of our work using two lists: One for big ideas that we want to build one day and a second “to-do list” for items that are scheduled to be worked on. I would prioritize the to-do list each week, trying to insert big ideas into the workflow. Despite my efforts, everyday a new bug or small feature would suddenly become a priority.  Those little things consumed our development time and the big ideas rarely made it in.

To cut through the noise we tried scheduling a one week sprint on a big idea.  We picked a project on the Monday and delivered the feature by the Friday afternoon.  For the first time in a while, we managed to get one of our big ideas out the door.

Feeling energized by that experience, we took on a more ambitious project for our second sprint. By the Friday small stuff had crept back onto our to-do list and we were only half finished our big idea. Argh!

It seemed like sprints had potential, but there was something missing in the way we chose our projects and defined their scope. I wanted a new process that would do three things:

• Ensure we consistently worked on big ideas with big impact
• Limit scope creep and keep the product simple
• Provide time to cover inevitable bug fixes, maintenance & small features


The Solution

We started off the year by deleting the to-do list completely. We kept our list of big ideas, but all the little fixes & features were gone. We were apprehensive about loosing all those notes, but I was confident that this purge was necessary to get us on a better path. Once it was done it was incredibly liberating. Without the weight of the to-do list we could do anything. The whole year opened up in front of us.

We started by creating a loose roadmap for the year.  Inspired by Ian McAllister’s post on roadmapping with themes, rather than projects, I took our goals for the year and assigned a corresponding theme to each. I then lined up the themes across each month on the calendar. A month is enough time to get deep into a subject and really make meaningful change.  But it’s not so long that we would have to worry about ignoring other parts of the business.  The roadmap also allowed us to think though how different themes would fit together over the course of the year.

Now every Monday morning the team rolls in with no pre determined list.  Instead, everyone has to pitch their idea for what we should work on that week.  Ideas have to be on theme, but there is no other restriction on what qualifies. We each score ideas by two categories: simplicity & impact.  The idea with the most points is what gets worked on. Full democracy.

Scoring on impact encourages team members to think about what will really make a difference to the business.  Scoring on simplicity ensures that we take on projects that have minimal ambiguity, are achievable within the week, and minimize the complexity of the application.

Each Monday we stop work on the prior week’s project. If there are features that we didn’t get to, they are either deleted or put in the icebox for the end of the month. Having that discipline to stop work on Monday and question the impact of what we’re working on ensures that we aren’t held back by sunk costs.

Over the course of the month we keep track of all the small stuff in a separate list, the icebox. By the fourth week it will have filled up with all sorts of minor fixes that now need to be addressed. So we take the last week to catch up on small stuff. Some teams set aside one day a week for bug fixes, but we’ve found that having a full week for bugs and small stuff works well because you can take on mid sized projects that are annoying for users but not huge priorities.

On the last Friday of the month the to-do list gets purged.  We look back at the results of our projects to see if they were a pass or fail. We also discuss our process and how it might be improved. Then we delete everything in the icebox and start completely fresh on a new theme the following month.


The Result

With this new process in place we work on big ideas every week, and it has made a huge difference. Cutting off our projects at the end of each week and purging the ice-box at the end of the month has forced us to consider what is important now and prevented us from doing things that might have been important six months ago, but are no longer relevant.

Pitching to the team has forced us to refine our ideas and discourages people from spitballing without a supporting argument.  The two dimensions, simplicity & impact not only encourage people to select ideas along those dimensions, but also to optimize for them.  How could an idea be more focused, more impactful or more achievable?  That’s been an awesome and unexpected result. Not only is our selection better, but so are the ideas themselves.

With this new process in place SpaceList is getting noticeably better each week. We are no longer behind the curve, we’re ahead of it. More that that, we get into the office on Monday morning knowing that we are going to work on something that matters.


How We Found our Space

When we moved into our own office the entire team was infused with a feeling of excitement and potential.  This was a place where we could make great things happen.

I was really hesitant to make the jump to our own space.  Overhead like insurance, internet & maintenance costs that were buried in our membership fees at Growlab would come to the surface.  Yet with seven people the cost of operating out of the shared office began to push $3,000 / month.  After a quick look at the market, it was clear that we could create a better environment for our team at a similar expense.

We started with a broad size and location filter.  We were looking for anything from 800 – 2,000 square feet, in this part of Vancouver:

The Zone

We got just over 100 results on SpaceList, and a few more from Craigslist.  Interestingly, we found some retail & industrial units that would have made really cool offices. Everyone on the team created their own top 10. There were some standouts that we all agreed on, so we went from 100 to 15 pretty quick. (Agents take note: many listings came without photos, and none of those made the cut.)

With our short list in hand, we got in touch with the reps to set-up tours.  Phone calls were by far the most effective way of reaching people.  We packed 10 tours into one day.


We saw everything from Class-A, T-Bar space in the central business district to stick & brick lofts in Gastown.


After walking 12 kilometers and touring 10 spaces we had a much better idea of what was out there. Some units lacked a kitchen and or a meeting room.  Those gaps really forced us to think about what we wanted to use our space for.

I nerded out a bit and built a scoring system for each of the spaces we were considering. Looking back at this I realize that I should have used the /SF price in my metric instead of monthly rent.

Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 9.26.07 AM

The table allowed me to identify outliers.  We wanted a special deal, better than market.  We found that in the unit from which I’m now typing this blog post: 608 – 55 E. Cordova.  This is what made it unique:

  • The price per square foot was $1.50 cheaper than any other unit
  • It was the largest unit we looked at, which would allow us to sublet a few desks if we decided to
  • Zoned “live/work” it allowed us to use a very favourable residential lease


Being totally candid, we rented this office because it felt right.  The view, natural light, private patios and 15′ ceiling height were not just unique… the physical openness was peaceful and full of potential.

Every morning I am excited to walk into our new office, watch the sun rise while making a cup of tea and get to work helping others find a place that will inspire them.


Shared Offices & Co-working Spaces in Toronto

Are you starting the next billion-dollar company and looking for a desk?  Toronto has one of the best and most diverse co-working options.  Here is a collection of inspiring workspaces in Toronto:




22 locations in Greater Toronto Area, including Sun Life Financial Centre, Eaton Centre, Bay St. and Yorkville Ave., Yonge and Davisville, 161 Bay St, University Ave, King Street West, 151 Yonge Street, Yonge and Adelaide, North Toronto, Etobicoke, Parkway Place, North York and Scarborough.

View Regus Listings on SpaceList


Acme Works

Acme Works is a new co-working space located at Toronto’s West End on 229 Niagara Street. The 8,600 sq. ft. space, once home to Acme Textiles, is renovated in 2013 to create an industrial luxe vibe, which features polished concrete floors and wood finishes reclaimed from demolished buildings and storm-damaged forests. Membership options include day pass ($25/day), shared tables (from $190/month), dedicated desks ($495/month) to dedicated offices and suites (price varies).


Bento Miso

Brick-and-beam building in Queen West. The 5,300 sq. ft. space is home to Toronto’s indie game developers, startups, community meetings and tech events.

There is no slacking on Friday 4/20 at @bentomiso.



Located in Roncesvalles Village. Facility consists of a large open workspace, a boardroom, and a communal kitchen. Memberships range from drop-in ($25/day) ,lite ($100/month), part-time ($255/month) and dedicated full-time ($375/month).


Centre for Social Innovation

CSI is a social enterprise that creates community workspace and incubates new ideas. First opened its door on Spadina in 2004, CSI has expanded to Annex, Regent Park and is opening a forth location in New York City.



Open concept coworking space and event venue on Bathurst street. Rental options include day pass at $25 per day, full-time coworking membership at $290 per month, dedicated workspace and private offices.


iQ Office Suites

iQ Office Suites is full serviced workspace housed in the historic, five-storey Dineen Building in Toronto’s Financial District on Yonge Street. Memberships include co-working lounge ($299/month), dedicated desks and private offices.

See more iQ Office Suites on SpaceList.


MaRS Commons

Workspace for entrepreneurs in IT, communications and entertainment industries. MaRS offers support in mentorship, financial help, market research or workshop for its network of startups.


Project RHINO

Toronto’s “founder-friendly” co-working space. Located at King + Bathurst, it is the best coworking space in Toronto according to TechVibe. Full-time membership starting at $250 per month and it includes dedicated desk, 24/7 access, high speed internet, colour-laser printer, conference room and all events.


Workplace One

Worksplace One is a three-storey brick and beam space located in downtown west near Queen and Bathrust. Membership options include virtual office ($99/month), co-working lounge ($200/month), dedicated desk ($500/month) and private office.

Shared Offices & Co-working Spaces in Montreal

In part 2 of shared offices & co-working spaces in Canada, we will visit shared office options in Montreal.




Regus provides executive suites, office space, day office, meeting space and virtual office in 5 business centres: University Street, Le 1000, Complexe Dix 30, Laval and Montreal Airport.

View Regus Listings on SpaceList



ECTO is cooperative co-working space with four membership options from daily ($25) to monthly ($250 per month).



Coworking and shared office space for small businesses, startups and freelancers in 5500 sq ft of space. Located in the Plateau Mont-Royal. Shared space rate is $219 per month includes 24/7 access to the office, exclusive use of a desk and a chair, Internet access, printers, meeting rooms, kitchen and all other amenities of the office. Closed office spaces are also available for rent.


RPM Startup Centre

Startup acclerator, co-working and event space in Griffintown district. 8000 square feet space with one board room and two meeting rooms. Rental options include single desks at $400 per month to private offices.


Station C

Open co-working space located in the heart of Montreal’s Mile End that offers a mix of shared and reserved desks as well as closed boardrooms. Flexible memberships include drop-ins, 3 days week to 24/7 unlimited.

Station C Lounge


Know of a local coworking office? List a space on SpaceList for free. Onward!

Shared Offices & Co-working Spaces in Calgary

Home offices are lonely - 23112006159

Working alone is lonely.  Over the next few weeks, we will profile the best co-working spaces in Canada for entrepreneurs, freelance consultants and startups.  First stop, Calgary.




Regus provides executive suites, office space, day office, meeting space and virtual office in 7 business centres: Sun Life Plaza, Bankers Hall, Hanson Square, One Executive Place, Macleod Place II, Garrison Green and Quarry Park.

View Regus Listings on SpaceList



Located in Inglewood.  A startup community hub and coworking space with over 50+ startups.  AcceleratorYYC offers mentorship programs and workshops for entrepreneurs.  Memberships range from $25/annual virtual office to $300/month full-time 24/7 access.

from AccleratorYYC on Facebook



Located in Calgary’s vibrant Kensington neighbourhood.  Features include modern desks, ergonomic chairs, filing cabinets and receptionist support.  Access to rooftop patio, community events, beverage and light snacks.   Rates start at $300 per month.

from Assembly on Facebook


Cowork YYC

Provides deskspace for creative freelancers and startups.  Rates are $225 per month for Lite membership and $450 per month for dedicated desk.

from Cowork YYC website


Know of a local coworking office? List the space on SpaceList for free!