"We do a lot more than provide a [co-working space]," says CEO and founder of Ignition Venture Studio Paolo Villonco. "I guess you can say it's a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs, not just in terms of the services we provide but it's also a community."
"We like to think we're your wingman in business," co-founder and director Atticus King chimes in.
After observing the momentum that the co-working office model has gained, four friends partnered with an idea to elevate the concept and develop it with its own unique twist. This brought the birth of Ignition, what's now known as the country's first venture studio.
Inside Ignition Venture Studio
Villonco and King, together with Margo Flores and Mark Tiaoqui, founded Ignition Venture Studio, a hub for upcoming and established entrepreneurs and freelancers who want to kickstart their projects. The multifaceted concept comes from Villoncoâs own experience with a venture studio at Stanford Law School, where he encountered working with a similar entity tied to the university.
Ignition Venture Studio partners Atticus King, Margo Flores, and Paolo Villonco
More than a space, it's a community for entrepreneurs to hone their ideas together, while a service component takes care of the back-end of the business and helps the idea become a reality. Villonco explains that Ignition consists of three elements: space, services, and community.
A contemporary space
The Ignition office is not your typical maze of cubicles boxed in four walls. Similar to a trendy coffee shop but without the music, the main space features couches and communal wooden tables. Thereâs a hint of freshly brewed coffee in the air. Flanking the walls and meetings rooms are large artworks by various artists. The space is up for rent, and you can rent something as non-committal as a seat at one of the two long wooden tables for a day or rent one of the meeting rooms for a longer period of time.
Services to complete all the nitty gritty behind running a business
Businessmen, especially those breaking into the field, know exactly how grueling the back-end of running a business can be. Hours spent lining up at government offices for documents, filing taxes, and getting accreditation are just some of the working pains every business has to accomplish.
With a businessman, two lawyers, and a finance expert at its helm, Ignition understands the entrepreneur's need for time and manpower so it offers a plethora of core services to allow its entrepreneurs to focus on building their product.
In fact, the reason why Ignition doesn't release prices or packages on its website is because every engagement is bespoke. Clients come in for a consultation and while there's a fixed market rate, Villonco says they're willing to charge less for the sake of the budding entrepreneur.
"We love paperwork; we're a bunch of lawyers and accountants after all. We'll help you with your taxes and unlike other groups, we're not highbrow," explains Villonco. "We will advise you: this is what you should do, and then we'll do it for you."
A collaborative community of thought leaders
Unique to Ignition is the concept of cross-pollination in its clients. "If you're with people who think like you, it's hard to innovate. It's just like an echo chamber," says Villonco. To remedy this, the studio is curating a very diverse community of experts in finance, tech, and art. From there, it facilitates interactions among these members. The studio also organizes workshops and roundtable discussions to get the ideas flowing among its clients. It moderates a match-making service, where it sifts through its pool of clients and partners them with another client based on their needs.
Right now, anyone can just walk in and join the community.
More than just a business, the studio fosters a pay it forward mentality. Taken from the idea of the restaurant Van Gogh is Bipolar's "giving wardrobe," freelancers will get to avail of a service from Ignition in exchange for a service up for grabs by anyone part of the studio's community.
The space also doubles as a pop-up art gallery for artists but instead of fees, the studio merely asks for a portion of the proceeds to be offered to a charity of the artist's choice.
Two years in the making
It wasn't a "sexy" beginning for Ignition. There were no lightbulb or eureka moments. It was conceived by several friends through time and planning.
"We've only been here for six or seven months but we've been thinking about this for two years," says Villonco. He and King met through mutual friend Kate Torralba and became "best buds" after that. They then traveled to the U.S. together to gather information on similar businesses before they began plotting the course Ignition eventually took.
After conducting research, they established Ignition's selling point: its CSR component. "Paolo and I always wanted to build something where we can funnel back and help," says King. The two had previously been business partners in the cafe Frank & Dean and decided that for this venture, they wanted an element of giving back.
This is just the first phase of Ignition's plan to democratize entrepreneurship. It's already started globalizing a few businesses such as Hey Handsome and introducing international businessmen to the local scene. As its next step, it eventually hopes to build capital and match investors with entrepreneurs.
Ignition Venture Studio, North Penthouse, Marajo Tower 312 26th St. Ave., Bonifacio Global City, 944.6200.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountry.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.