By Jack Stubbs
In a commercial real estate market that increasingly revolves around technological advancement—with tech-at-one’s-fingertips and tech-based workspaces increasingly important amenities—many companies are seeking to transform and adapt the way that industry professionals use technology in their day-to-day operations. extraSlice, founded in 2013, is a hybrid high-tech campus that provides a workspace where new technology can be developed.
We recently spoke with Meghana Subramanian and Binu Reghunathan, co-CEOs and co-founders, about the company’s objectives, how it contributes to an ever-evolving tech-centric workplace, and how it adds another dimension to the conversation about co-working spaces in the modern workplace environment.
What can you tell me about extraSlice (the company’s founding, current objectives and strategies, etc.)? In a nutshell, what does the company do?
At the most basic level, extraSlice provides technology-focused workspaces, services and training programs for tech companies of all sizes to deliver new technologies to market. Our technology community is a developing global network of service and training providers to better connect the local technology community to the rest of the world.
Meghana and I founded extraSlice in 2013. The company is a shared passion for us, as we are both software engineers by trade. We’ve individually worked for technology giants like Oracle and IBM, as well as earlier stage technology companies. We’ve also worked together in startup environments and know first-hand that this local marketplace needed a platform like extraSlice to help tech companies of all sizes and stages bring new technologies and products to market.
Can you expand upon the idea of extraSlice as a hybrid tech campus? How is the company’s setting and infrastructure part of a larger trend?
Day-to-day, we provide true flexibility that innovative tech companies require. For example, we can provide private entrances, dedicated communication lines, video conferencing capabilities and more. In addition to the regular offices and common areas that traditional flexible workspaces provide, we offer four-person pods that provide a semi-private office environment for early stage technology companies looking for office options that are both affordable and flexible. At the same time, we can provide branded offices for more established companies.
We also find that some tech companies thrive through human interaction while others demand more of a private environment. At extraSlice we take the time to work directly with each member company to build an environment that works specifically for them. For those who want to socialize and learn from one another, we hold regular events for our members, as well as events for the broader tech community in our area. Specifically, we are hosting major tech events and learning/networking opportunities, such as the Bellevue Tech Expo coming up in 2018.
Who are the company’s primary clients, and where does the company operate geographically (aside from Bellevue)? Does the company have any plans to expand in the future?
By being in a geographic location so close to many important tech companies, it’s easy for our members who work with or service those companies to easily come-and-go for the many times they’re asked to be on-location. At the same time, there’s separation and dedicated space here at extraSlice to truly focus on the work at hand, with enough privacy to really get things done—but without sacrificing any of the tech infrastructure or amenities needed.
We definitely plan to expand in the future and plan to have additional Seattle-area locations open within a year. Our clients run the gamut from start-up tech companies all the way up to larger enterprise clients who have operations nearby, as well as major entities who service global tech companies with operations in the Seattle area.
To what degree does the company provide a platform for clients to develop new technology? Given this explicit emphasis on technology, how compatible is the company with other industries?
Now, with more than 80 member tech companies, we at extraSlice are striving to provide a platform and ecosystem that blends flexible workspace, exceptional technology infrastructure and agility to deliver exactly what each of our clients need. While there are other flexible workspace companies all over the US, as well as here in the Seattle area, we are different given our 100 percent focus on tech and all of the considerations that brings.
We recognized early on that extraSlice could not be all things to all people, so we made a conscious decision to focus 100 percent on tech. Accordingly, we’ve built and are continuously developing, updating and improving a workplace infrastructure that provides the breadth and flexibility to deliver exactly what each of our clients want. As a result, we might not be suited to fit any number of non-tech companies, but that is ok with us, since our focus is on tech companies, period.
Co-working is a huge trend at this moment in time, and gaining in popularity every week, especially in high-growth cities like Seattle. How does extraSlice seek to differentiate itself from other co-working and think-tank spaces? Most co-working spaces offer the same or similar member benefits. What makes extraSlice unique?
When we at extraSlice talk about flexible workspace, it means more than providing a blank space and telling our members to do what they want with it. We provide specific and customized options for each of our member companies, taking into account exactly what they’ll need to succeed. This can involve options ranging from dedicated private offices with secure, private spaces to more open areas to pods (four-person, semi-private offices).
Similarly, technology infrastructure at extraSlice means more than a good Internet connection. Based again on the needs of each member, we can provide secure dedicated lines, video conferencing capabilities, networking support, as well as the personal touch to ensure that each member is getting exactly what they need.
Agility for us is driven by what our members need. This means that we at extraSlice oftentimes have to move fast to accommodate and anticipate the needs of each member company. As a specific example, one fast-growing enterprise-level client had needs developing to a point that required us to open an entire new floor here at extraSlice! We take pride in being agile enough to quickly adapt and meet the changing needs of our tech company members.
Can you expand upon the specific services and accommodations that extraSlice provides its individual clients?
As technologists ourselves, Meghana and I know that there was and is a need in the flexible workspace market for a company like extraSlice that goes beyond just providing space and technology infrastructure. That’s why we’re creating a technology marketplace in which our member companies, especially earlier stage tech companies, can find and select trusted professional resources they need to do business successfully. For example, a member tech company might need help in a discipline such as accounting, legal counsel or marketing.
In parallel with that, we’re creating forums where our member companies can confidentially review and provide feedback to each other on emerging technologies and products before they go to market. This will provide real value and help our members narrow and refine their offerings before they’re publicly released. All of this is unique to the marketplace, and it’s very much by design.
To support extraSlice’s culture, we are expanding perks such as indoor/outdoor shared social areas, company training events and functions, prospective joint benefits and more. In short, we’re striving to provide a vibrant tech-focused culture to boost collaboration and productivity for our members.
What are some challenges ahead for the company? How will extraSlice maintain a competitive advantage over other companies?
We have parallel internal and external challenges: internally, we are striving to make our space and underlying technology infrastructure as useful and attractive as possible to members. At the same time, our external challenge is to ramp business development and sales capabilities. We have purposefully designed extraSlice to have a competitive advantage by being focused on the needs of technology companies, based on our own experience as technologists.