WATERLOO REGION – Nine months after permanently moving to home-centred offices, a local solar tech start-up is using the workspaces at the Accelerator Centre to supplement its commitment to virtual space.
Boxbrite Technologies joined the Accelerator Centre’s TD Sustainable Future Lab this month. In October 2020, the company’s team photo was taken onsite at evolv1, where the centre is located, and the next day came the decision to move to permanent home-centred offices.
“I really didn’t know when and how we would need office space again when we made the decision to focus on home-centred offices,” said Leon Kehl, president of Boxbrite Tech. “I had no idea that, nine months later, we would join the Accelerator Centre in that same building where our photo was taken, and I wasn’t even aware of the TD Sustainable Future Lab there.”
“I had no idea that, nine months later, we would join the Accelerator Centre in that same building where our photo was taken”
The TD Sustainable Future Program supports entrepreneurs working on any venture that moves the needle on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The Accelerator Centre’s program is divided into four phases over two years, teaching crucial components such as developing and licensing intellectual property (IP) and funding opportunities.
Boxbrite will use the centre’s meeting rooms and lunch room, and the company also has a designated desk in the building. A post-doc PhD student from the University of Waterloo will join the company in November, researching, in part, the evolve1 building. Kehl recognizes the value in the networking and mentorship that the centre offers, and that being physically present in a building can build those connections. Being part of the Accelerator Centre provides physical space with which to experiment and to bring people together, he says.
“We want and need to experiment with the use of shared space. We aren’t looking to move back into the office or considering a hybrid model like many companies discuss. We are fully committed to our home office strategy,” says Kehl, adding the centre’s space allows the company to explore questions about how and when physical office space is shared and used.
“We are fully committed to our home office strategy”
The company has intentionally focused on making the home-centred office work for the team.
“We’ve gotten really good at working together remotely. We’ve focused on the intangible elements of welcoming people and making them feel at home virtually,” he says. “We’ve been amazed at how people we’ve never actually met in person talk about our company feeling like family. We’ve also gotten good at interacting with our contacts and customers in this way, as well.”
Boxbrite develops software solutions for renewable energy, particularly in the solar energy industry, to aid in the transition of energy systems to a sustainable future. Through a solid partnership with VCT Group of Waterloo, Boxbrite’s team monitors the solar panels at evolv1, Canada’s first zero-carbon building.
Seventy per cent of its employees are highly educated and skilled newcomers to Canada. And more than half of the team are women. Some members of the team have sought refuge here, and other team members live with neurodiversity.
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