“We were dying to get away from Bedminster,” said Parkhill Mays, president of STOPit.
The leader of this pioneering software company had been commuting 60+ minutes a day from Freehold to a Bedminster office park and it was starting to take its toll, on him and his team.
When he reflects on this time, Mays isn’t just talking about the long drive in rush hour traffic, he’s talking about the life squeeze the commute put on him as the father of two girls, whom he coaches in travel softball.
“That was tough,” he said.
Moving the team to Bell Works shaved hours of all but two team members’ commutes. “I think everyone has dropped in age 5-10 years since we got here,” Mays said.
Founded four years ago by Todd Schoebel, STOPit created an app that empowers users to anonymously report bullying, harassment and violence in schools, workplaces and towns. The solution also includes an incident management component and both snapshot and detailed reporting options. In 2017, STOPit extended its solution to offer an incident monitoring service, providing 24/7 incident monitoring and management.
In their Bedminster headquarters each employee had a private office. Besides the drive, he said, “It was a poor utilization of space.”
“We needed an open floor plan, a collaborative space,” Mays said. “That model fosters good fellowship. Yes, it gets a little chatty, but when your team is behind closed doors you miss hearing their customer conversations. When I hear someone say, “‘We‘re moving ahead and I’m sending a contract,’ that’s invigorating.”
Flex space within the coworking community
In less than a year the software company has made a series of three easy moves through different Bell Works offices, flex coworking space, small private pre-built space, and large pre-built space, each sized for their needs at the time.
The journey started about a month before STOPit’s Bell Works lease began when Mays said he’d just had it with the trip to Bedminster. “We couldn’t wait. We have to go, now,” he remembers saying, and he called Sean Donohue, community manager of CoLab, the coworking space here. “I showed up with my team of 12 at the time and Sean accommodated us for about 5 weeks in his flex space.”
This coworking flex space offers a mix of private offices and shared and private desks. Mays said his team was able to walk in on day one and begin working without any set up. When STOPit’s private office was ready, the team only needed to walk down the hall.
Attracting talent with environment
There were plenty of relocation options for STOPit in Monmouth County, with office parks in Eatontown, Red Bank and Wall. Mays said that it was the larger experience available to his employees, including the ample public spaces, retail shops and services, that attracted him to Bell Works.
“You get much more for your money here than you would an office park in Eatontown that’s a few dollars cheaper per square foot. It’s much cheaper from an overall utilization stand point. Plus it’s a tech center and a recruiting magnet,” Mays said.
Mays discovered the location’s power for recruiting almost immediately.
When STOPit interviewed their now SaaS Account Executive, Chris Salomon, he told Mays, “Part of the attraction to your company was the surroundings you put yourself in.”
Mays, who doesn’t have a private office, (no one is his company does now) is fond of taking calls in the soaring, glass ceilinged atrium. He likes to meet partners at Booskerdoo for coffee and conversation. And the gym on the concourse level is an added bonus.
Bell Works is quickly adding retail like Salon Concrete, Hummus & Pita, The Alchemist Jeweler, At Your Convenience, and now a dry cleaning service. The Holmdel Library and a Montessori School are both part of the metroburb now as well. All retail is open to the public.
“There’s a vibe that we can always go somewhere at Bell Works,” he said. “The place feels right to our team. And, you don’t have to get in your car for lunch.”
Three easy moves, plenty more room to grow
After just eight months in its original ready-to-wear space, STOPit is growing again, in funding, sales, staff and workspace.
The team just took up a 3,000 square-foot space on the first floor that includes three conference rooms and a generous open floor plan for individual and collaborative work. (That space was recently vacated by Nvidia makers of graphics cards and driverless car technology, which moved upstairs to a larger space on the third floor, to accommodate their growing team.)
Other startups like music industry software company Vydia have used Bell Works as a launch pad and then moved to new space within the building as the company grew. Since upgrading from its first starter office in 2015, Vydia has doubled in size and hired 30 people. The company which created a platform for artists to protect, publish, monetize and distribute their videos across multiple channels now occupies a custom built 6,712 square foot office on the second floor of building 4.
In STOPit’s new space the team is settling in and enjoying their larger conference rooms and a little more elbow room around the office. But that extra room might not last too long. It recently hired a customer success manager and salesperson for a new market. And there are talks of purchasing other products that could fill out their offerings.
“The building has turned us into the company we always should have been: young, vibrant, always on the lookout of what’s next,” Mays said. “I hope we haven’t moved to our last piece of real estate here. I don’t think we have.”
From shared space to private office, learn more about how you can grow your company at Bell Works with the Template for Growth.