Kanata-based L-Spark, known for mentoring Canadian SaaS firms through its accelerator program, announced this week that it will turn some of its open real estate into a co-working space catering to suburban startups.
Marketing director Erin Blaskie tells Techopia that shifts in L-Spark’s accelerator model have recently left the company with extra space at its Kanata offices. In recent years, the accelerator started targeting later-stage companies and drawing in firms from across the country, leading to more remote work and leaving the space that previously incubated startups largely unused.
In L-Spark’s latest cohort, just one company was from the Ottawa area.
“Our office was pretty much empty in terms of bodies in the room,” Blaskie says.
The management team started discussions earlier this year to determine how best to utilize the space and maintain the accelerator’s role as a community builder for Kanata’s tech sector. To that end, L-Spark began experimenting with monthly co-working days centred around speakers or panels where entrepreneurs from the community could drop in and work for a day. Blaskie says the response was overwhelmingly positive to these events, and led to questions about whether L-Spark should take on the co-working mantle full-time.
There are few offerings currently available to Kanata-based startups looking for temporary space: The Corporate Centre has office space available at 555 Legget Dr.; the Kanata Office Centre operates on Hazeldean Road; and Collab Space is a bit closer to downtown in Nepean.
At the same time as it was toying with the idea of co-working, L-Spark had also been experimenting with a “farm team” concept for high-potential startups that weren’t yet at an appropriate stage for the formal accelerator program. Farm team companies, such as e-commerce firm Noibu, work in the L-Spark offices through a less intense version of the program, receiving mentorship and support from staff.
The co-working space’s programming will integrate some of this concept with exclusive events and workshops for participants. Alumni of the L-Spark accelerator will still be able to access these services without paying the fees.
“It’s going to really round out what we do,” Blaskie says.
She notes that the co-working space is an experiment at this point, and the team isn’t sure how significant it will become in terms of revenue generation. It’s currently priced to cover the costs to operate the space.
L-Spark will offer monthly rates for single-desk entrepreneurs or startups of up to four people in need of an office. Blaskie says the L-Spark option could be attractive to a Kanata startup that doesn’t have the dough for long-term real estate in the tech park.
“It’ll give someone in Kanata North a place to land without them being costed out,” she says.
In order to “create the right collisions,” Blaskie notes there will be a process for startups and entrepreneurs looking to apply. Like the accelerator program, preference will be given to companies in the SaaS, cyber, Internet of Things and deep tech fields.