Lauren's learnings - Start up stories

Lauren is our amazing Operations Manager at Hey Tiger. She gives us the low-down and tells us about her experience being a part of our delicious chocolate startup.

I remember sitting across from Cyan in our weekly catch up, knowing that something was about to change. I’d been working with her for a year at Envato, when an infection in her eye kept her home for nearly a month and this was the first time we had seen each other since. We’d talked plenty on the phone and she had told me, funny enough, what an “eye opening” experience sitting in the dark could be. I knew she had been considering a change in path, a new business, a new adventure and I knew from our time working together that I was keen to go wherever Cyan was headed. But I hadn’t been invited along on this new journey yet, I didn’t know where she was going, and I had a perfectly good job at a company that I loved.  

So back to the meeting. She told me about her new ideas, the realisations she’d had over the past month... and then the big question came. “Do you want to come along for the ride?” I had a decision to make. Would I, or wouldn’t I take the plunge? It felt as though i’d blurted it out but what I said was “whatever it is your planning, I’m a 100% in”. The look on Cyan’s face was one of surprise and excitement. Looking back, I think we were both happy. It soon  dawned on me that I had no idea what to expect in the journey of a startup or what challenges we would face.

It’s hard to imagine now what answer I would have given you, if you’d asked me what our biggest hurdles would be. I might have said something vague like “physical products are intimidating!” or “how do we start?” or “how do we know we are doing it right?”. And, I suppose all of those things were true. But to my amazement, the hardest challenge for us so far has been finding the right space. Unlike many other startups we can't just do it all at the kitchen table, in a garage or tiny office space. For example, we need a fully functioning kitchen that can fit machinery to make chocolate and a proper cooling room to store it. I can’t believe how many properties I’ve inspected, how knowledgeable I’ve become about a building’s power capacity, and the ins and outs of grease traps.

For us, a space has to be many things. It needs to be a studio where we create our beautiful chocolate and it needs to be a place for staff to come and enjoy work. But additionally, we want to be able to share our space with the public giving them a place to try and buy our creations, and so it should be accessible and have foot traffic. On top of that it needs to feel light, bright and happy to portray our identity. But let’s not forget, we also need to keep our costs low. We are a start up and a social enterprise after all. I realised that deciding on a home for a business is just about as hard as deciding on a home for yourself.

For now we are working from a lovely spot in Cremorne. We share our building with Square One Roasters which means we get the perks of delicious coffee and have now added their beans to our coffee and almond bar.  We haven’t worked out everything thing yet. I’m sure I’ll still go to many more inspections and that we will run in to more hurdles. But now I know you just can’t anticipate what will be the hardest part for your startup. All I can say is, I’m glad I went on this journey and I hope you dive into yours too.