Frank Bailey, Sales VP at RTDA, on First Office Experiences

Today Sean and I sat down with Frank Bailey, VP of Sales from Runtime Design Automation. RTDA offers automation tools that manage all design resources such as licenses and CPU’s in order to streamline workflow. RTDA products track all licenses in your network, capture all jobs in your project, and automatically dispatch the jobs in the farm, all with one-click simplicity.

Q: I understand that you have had to change offices three times. Can you share a little about your first experience in finding an office?

Well, when Andrea and I first started the business, we were each working out of our homes. Andrea lived in the east bay and I lived in Mountain View. I cannot speak for Andrea, but I did not find this effective because of the distractions from television, the telephone, and the ability to run errands at will.

You could say that our first office kind of found us. One of our early customers, Exemplar Logic, was nice enough to give us space in their facility. Located in Alameda, we utilized the free space for eight months until they were acquired by Mentor Graphics. After the acquisition, we were forced to move out. It was not until this point that we actually had to find a place.

Q: What were your three primary concerns in finding the right first office?

  1. We wanted to be close to our customers and prospects. We spend a significant amount of time on the customers premises.
  2. We wanted something that had conference rooms. By this time we had hired a couple of employees. Not all conversations should be heard, so we wanted something with private meeting rooms.
  3. Finally, we wanted something that was near places where you could get a quick bite to eat. We basically lived at the office so being able to get something that tastes good, but not unhealthy was an issue.

Q: How did you get started when you began searching for an office?

I pulled out a map and drew a perimeter from San Jose to Mountain View and tried to find a place that was central to our customers, accessible from various directions, and easy to find from the street. We found a place on Apollo Way in Sunnyvale. This was a great location because it intersected Central Expressway and Lawrence. It was also close to 101. In 1995 this was the heart of the Valley.

We were there for about three years before the property was acquired by another company. The acquiring company raised the rent, so we moved to a place in Fremont which was about half the price. What we at first anticipated was a bargain on space turned out to be a disaster. Our office building was right next to a probation office building who we shared the same parking lot. It seemed like there were always questionable people hanging around the lot. Often, strange people would walk in and out of our building in search for the probation building. We only had a few theft incidents, but there were several vandalized cars. This office did not have conference rooms so it made meetings with visitors difficult. I observed that our visitors were hesitant to speak out, since they were not sure who was listening. Another problem of being in Fremont was dealing with heavy traffic on 880. It took at least an hour to get to San Jose to visit a customer and an hour back to return to the office.

Q: How did you measure or asses the quality of the office?

We compared a lot of offices before we settled on one. We basically looked at the image of the facility compared to the price. By image, I am referring to the neighborhood, the condition of the building, the common areas, and the amount of outside noise.

Q: Do you have any words of advice or things to look out for that people might over look?

Be careful of who your neighbors are and what types of businesses they are in. One of the businesses in the complex was a delivery service. They took up about a dozen parking spaces with their delivery vans. I would also stay away from sub leasing. We had an issue where we were sub leasing from a guy for six months. Turned out that this guy disappeared and never paid the property manager the entire time of our lease. We were not held liable, but the paper hassles and police reports were time consuming.

Make sure you have a separate machine room. Servers are extremely noisy and radiate a lot of heat. You want a separate room where you can set up a cooling system and keep all the noise regulated. I also recommend a place for miscellaneous stuff. Otherwise your office will look messy and cluttered.

I would recommend using a broker. I found a broker who I used for the next two office relocations. I much rather let an expert deal with all the fine line paperwork. This lets me concentrate on business objectives instead of worrying about none strategic busy work. A good broker will catch liability insurances, and other contract requirements that fluctuate from place to place. I recommend Jeff Rogers from Colliers International.

How much was the cost of the move? How long did it take for you to become operational?

There were five people in the company in Silicon Valley: with furniture, setting up the IT infrastructure, and paying movers, the total cost was $10,000. I would say we were fully operational in about four to six weeks.

Where did you buy your furniture?

I went to Repo Depo. People think they save money by purchasing the low end stuff at Office Depot. However, I think even though that furniture may be brand new, it can break down before the well built high end items you can get second hand.

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