A new co-operative working space created by a trio of Simon Fraser University alumni in the heart of Surrey’s fledgling Innovation Boulevard is helping new entrepreneurs take their ideas to the next level.
Beta Collective provides small business owners with workspaces that provide a professional environment and collegial atmosphere at a reduced cost. The goal is to help young businesses grow out of basements or coffee shops and experience real-world surroundings—with the added benefits of networking and potentially, striking collaborations.
Since opening its doors in a strip mall off King George Highway in April interest has been steadily growing. Initially designed to meet the needs of high-tech clients, the entrepreneurs they’ve attracted are varied—a data researcher, event planner and real estate consultant among them.
SFU alumnus Aaron Cruikshank, former executive director of HiVE Vancouver, has recently signed his business on and others, from a growing stream of young entrepreneurs at SFU, may be on tap to join in the future.
The idea started when Jason Wong and Michael Cheng, as students at SFU, collaborated on the first TEDxSFU conference in 2011. Business partner and fellow student Elvin Cheung joined the pair to turn the idea into reality. Wong says the trio drew on the expertise of Chruikshank and yet another SFU alum, Minna Van, co-founder of Vancouver’s Network Hub, to create their Surrey-based venture.
“We’ve already filled half of our capacity and have met our revenue goals for the first three months,” says Wong, who along with Cheung is from Coquitlam.
“This isn’t your floor-to-ceiling window kind of place, but our goal is to create a casual business atmosphere, accessible and at the same time, a business-oriented community hub.”
While co-working spaces have been growing in popularity with a number of sites in Vancouver, Cheng says establishing Beta Collective in Surrey is “a natural fit for an area that is being designed to foster innovation” and is growing rapidly.
Cheng, a graduate of SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) who has also been a client of SFU’s Venture Connection program, has won multiple awards and honours for many of the dozen niche businesses he has already rolled out.
The Beta Collective includes seven private offices designed for businesses with up to three employees. The 2,600 square foot working space has a boardroom for client meetings, a kitchen and a lounge area. Further renovations are planned as the entrepreneurs grow their business.
Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 130,000 alumni in 130 countries.
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