First Published: By Mark Rieder – February 14, 2018 Beacon

ONE challenge of running a startup or small business is having access to the tools of the trade that can be out of reach financially.

Lightning Hub Limited, a new co-working office space under development on the first floor of Niederer Plaza, will provide these businesses with resources, offices, hot desks and a collaborative atmosphere aimed at growing potential.

Director and Whakatane native Tristan Vine said he and his two co-directors, Briton Williams and Matthew Davis, saw the opportunity to provide these services in Whakatane and wasted no time in setting up the company.

“We thought up the idea five months ago.

“We considered what opportunities were in Whakatane for us to do something that is cool, fun, engaging and can build economic development,” he said.

The launch date is set for March 5.

The three partners are committed to creating a critical mass in Whakatane’s business community by promoting collaboration.

“We’re all very keen on the idea of having that collaboration – that co-working environment – and building a business community,” he said.

To engage the rest of the businesses in the region, Lightning Hub has built links with other business organisations.

“We touched bases with (Eastern Bay of Plenty Chamber of Commerce chief executive) Ged Casey very early on and he’s all for what we’re doing, and we’ve created a couple of collaborative events,” he said.

“Our synergies are certainly in line and we’re both about building good relationships.”

Since collaboration is Lightning Hub’s most important spoke, their offices are laid out to encourage open communication and sharing of ideas.

“Those informal relationships are built when you have a good community and the ecosystem of like-minded businesses working together,” Mr Vine said.

That philosophy is best served by providing informal spaces where down time is a chance to network. There is a lounge area where members can relax while developing connections.

The space will also be used for formal networking sessions.

“Friday nights we’ll hold innovation sessions where we get all the tenants together and talk about cool or crazy ideas they can take on together and help each other’s businesses grow and flourish,” he said.

That concept will also be used for bringing outside businesses into the collaborative process.

“We’ll engage people who are outside the offices with our virtual members and businesses around town,” he said.

All three partners agreed that community development went hand in hand with economic development. They aim their energies at creating a critical mass of job opportunities to give young people jobs for their futures.

“If we can give kids an option and say, ‘think about robotics or coding or animation – something creative and innovative’, then we can give them a chance to do that,” Mr Vine said.

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