It all starts with a dream! It is a gift in life when you find something you are truly passionate about, and even better when you can turn that passion into a career. That’s exactly what Deborah Foster-Stahle of OfficeInc! Corp. has done. Her dream to launch an office suites facility started twenty years ago.
It was in the late 1990’s that Deborah first saw an office suites facility in Cambridge, Ontario, and she fell in love with the concept of many businesses operating under one roof, sharing resources. She put pen to paper, writing a plan to open her own business incubation centre in 1997. It wasn’t feasible for her financially at that time – she was young and the capital investment was beyond her means back then. But the dream never faded away. In 2007, when Deborah and her husband Kurt Stahle purchased the BNI Ontario Central North franchise in this area, their business plan included opening an office suites and incubation centre here within 10 years. During our interview Deborah excitedly said, “We celebrated the grand opening of OfficeInc! on November 30th, 2017.”
Did you know the “Inc!” in OfficeInc! is for incubator? OfficeInc! Corp. is an office suites, meeting facility and business incubation centre located on Cedar Point Drive in Barrie. This amazing facility has many different spaces and service options for entrepreneurs. Whether you are a new start-up growing your business or a veteran entrepreneur in need of space, OfficeInc! will have exactly what you need. Their spaces include:
- Full-time & Occasional Offices
- Regular & Silent Co-Working
- 1:1 Coaching Room
- Large Training Room
- Small Conference Room & Boardroom
- Virtual Office Solutions
- Certified Commercial Kitchen
All utilities are included in the rental of these spaces, as is WiFi. They have payment options available for full-time rental or pay-as-you-go by the full day, half day or hour. Deborah and her team have successfully built a space that is comfortable and affordable, providing new entrepreneurs the opportunity to take their business from home or a coffee shop into a professional office space. For facilitators and trainers looking for meeting space with the latest technology, OfficeInc! offers state-of-the-art A/V. Did we mention the food? OfficeInc! is becoming known as the “Casual Fine Dining” of office suites, with outstanding food prepared in-house by Sarah Elliot, the facility’s Director of Yum! Deborah is also proud that OfficeInc! rents out their commercial kitchen to foodpreneurs. This program has recently launched and is known as F.O.R.K.: the Food Opportunities Resource Kitchen.
We had the opportunity to spend an hour with Deborah, talking with her about launching and growing OfficeInc!
Talk about where the idea of Office Inc. came from.
OfficeInc! is a 20-year-dream-come-true. Deborah drafted her first business plan in 1997, after retiring her role as a business developer with the Chamber of Commerce in Cambridge. That is when Deborah first came across the concept of office sharing. She was so impressed with the fact that businesses were able to work together in one large space, collaborating and learning from each other. At the time, she was young and did not have the financial wherewithal to open her own office suites facility, but did not hesitate to start the planning process. As many entrepreneurs are aware, your business plan is a living document, and Deborah kept her dream and plan alive as a working document until her opening day in November, 2017.
What were your first steps in creating this business?
“Having a dream, and seeking out help to turn it into an actual business plan.” As a client of HBEC (the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre) Deborah attended their Business Model Canvas workshop. “It was good to get out of my head and step back to look at the plan with an eagle eye view. Workshop facilitator Don Bourne was very helpful in getting the ideas onto paper in a different way. I highly recommend the program.“
Through the workshop process, Deborah established six core values that her business models: Inspiration, Connection, Passion, Drive, Clarity, and Focus. These values are literally part of OfficeInc!’s foundation (in the concrete) and infused into the office with their beverage offerings. “We have 3 custom-roasted coffees, a Dark, Medium and Decaf. The dark roast is Drive, the medium roast is Inspiration and our Decaf is Clarity. We also offer three hand-tied teas made just for us: our chai chocolate tea is called Connection, Focus is peppermint with ginkgo biloba, and Passion is our fruity blend. At OfficeInc!, you can drink in our company values. Have a cuppa Inspiration while here.”
Tell me about business partners, the working relationship, suppliers, and partnerships.
“HBEC (the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre) and Dave Hyde from Barrie’s Small Business Centre, they were a big help in connecting to resources. And our major funding partner is BDC.” OfficeInc! has a list of great local partners that helped build Deborah’s company to where it is today: Barrie Equipment for kitchen equipment; A+ Administration & Leasing for office furniture and equipment financing; design and blueprints by Tacoma Engineers; Murphy’s Paint Service for paint; Poly-B Limited for the plumbing; electrical by Clear View Electric Ltd. “All were fantastic to work with, from the quoting process to completion of the renovation. They were great because many of building codes have changed since the 1980’s when the structure was originally built. We encountered bumps along the way, but they all handled it well and talked about the issues with me, re-quoting where necessary.” Everyone involved in the start-up was from this region, which was really important to Deborah.
Deborah plans to refine the business model locally, then eventually franchise or open satellite locations across Ontario and Canada.
“We are the casual fine dining of office suites. Envision an entrepreneur who enjoys casual fine dining. They are cool and classy, successful, crisp shirt and jeans with nice polished shoes – that’s our Avatar, our ideal client. We create beautiful and tasty food, offering a nutritious mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack for our office tenants and in-house catering for meetings. Even our fixtures and décor is food themed – all the furniture is in espresso, the trim colour is fudge, the paint is called ‘Worth Your Salt’, and the doors are in honey oak stain. I’m a foodie with a real passion for good food, so this is really exciting for me… a HUGE passion.”
For more information about OfficeInc! please visit their website.