NextSpace Effect

NextSpace Member Spotlight: Chris Miller Of 'The Brigades'

By NextSpace on Apr. 21, 2017

Written by Kirsten Jadoo

When we talk about the NextSpace Effect, we're talking about how a person, an idea, or a business can gain the momentum needed to succeed just by virtue of being at NextSpace. No NextSpace Santa Cruz member exemplifies the NextSpace Effect better than Chris Miller. Chris has been with NsSC since the very beginning, during which time he has grown from a freelancer to the CEO of three businesses.

Kirsten: Please Tell Me About Your Business, Affectionately Known Around Here As 'The Brigades'

Chris: Let’s start with some background about my companies:

ScratchSpace started as an IT consulting company, providing professional services around the server side of the business. The availability of open source content management systems and software frameworks resulted in a tech boom of freelance web designers, software developers, and technology evangelists. Unfortunately the low barrier to entry has resulted in a lot of well intentioned, but flawed implementations of websites and web applications. Because we were frequently hired to rescue businesses from the pain points of these projects, we identified the need for a solutions provider who could evaluate and select the proper technology components to build secure, stable, and scalable websites and web applications.

Launch Brigade is a technology company who had to learn design. One thing notably different about Launch Brigade is that we entered the market with a solid understanding of the technology behind the web, the computers, software, and the code that makes it all happen. Launch Brigade utilizes many software development best practices that have emerged during the history of web application development. These include Clean Code pioneered by the Extreme Programming movement (sometimes referred to as "agile development"), Software Frameworks, Revision Control Systems, Testing, and the use of separate development, staging, and production environments.

Every decade requires a pivot. While the web still uses the same open source technologies to deliver content, the infrastructure behind the web is rapidly evolving to expedite provisioning, and deliver scalability and uptime that was either not possible, or simply un-affordable. Recognizing this shift, the ScratchSpace brand has been retired to the background with the emergence of Cloud Brigade, which represents the future direction of computer based services. The core of the work we do for our customers is still the same, but the way that we do it has changed. By embracing a wide variety of cloud services across the disciplines of infrastructure, platform, and software, we are simply able to build and deliver better products, faster and smarter than we ever could before.

Chris Miller Of Launch Brigade

How Long Have You Been Coworking At NextSpace?

Since the space opened in October 2008. I found out about NextSpace on accident when I attended Freelance Camp at the MAH on a bit of a whim a few months earlier.

What Do You Like Most About It?

"This will sound a little corny, but it's like the television show Cheer's, a fictitious bar where 'Everybody knows your name.'"
- Chris Miller

I always feel like I'm among friends, and the self defining community has always been comprised of people with a positive "can do" attitude.

What About NextSpace And/Or The Community Has Helped Your Business To Become What It Is Today?

I had been working alone in a silo for three years with no clear direction on how to grow beyond a freelancer. When I found out about NextSpace, it felt like I was able to get in on the ground floor of something that was going to be really cool. It took a little time to feel like I could be vulnerable in the community, but it became clear we were all going through similar experiences on our entrepreneurial journey. Then came the collaboration and the feeling that we were all in this together, and stronger together than apart. I found the more you give to the community, the more you get in return, so it was really a no-brainer to embrace the community as much as possible. As the professional and personal relationships grew, I felt an increasing amount of support, which lead to increased confidence, and access to a trusted pool of talent to take on bigger projects.

The community has enabled us to build a core team of employees and an extended team of contractors. It may be somewhat counter-intuitive, but expressing this as a strength has actually earned us trust with clients. We are small and agile, yet we can scale as needed and compete with companies much larger than us and win. We will keep growing our core and continue to rely on local trusted talent. In this way we can grow responsibly, and potentially avoid some of growing pains of traditional growth such as layoffs and budget burn rates.

Cloud Brigade Photo

NextSpace Has A Strong Focus On Community. How Important Is That Community To You And/Or Your Business?

It's a requirement and what sets NextSpace apart from other coworking communities. We are all serious about what we do, it's how we survive. However it's important to have balance, a sense of humor, camaraderie, and a cool and inspiring workplace which motivates all of us to get out of bed every day. The community here is pretty self regulating, and although I've seen many people come and go over the past 8+ years, we always have the right mix of active members at any given time. It's kind of like a sourdough starter, it will always change yet maintain the essence which makes it special.

Beyond The Community, What Business Benefits Are There To Coworking At Nextspace? For Instance, Lower Business Expenses, Access To Facilities, Etc.

I think many people are afraid to make the plunge because there is a cost to play in the pool. I believe this is a misguided fear, and for those who are serious about forging their own path and being self reliant, NextSpace provides the basic foundation required by any freelancer or small business. The membership at NextSpace is more of a savings than a cost. That is to say the overall benefits significantly outweigh the costs, and those benefits won't always be apparent on your balance sheet. Yeah, we all have to be fiscally responsible; at the same time, don't trip over dimes when you are hunting for dollars.

First off, being a member of NextSpace provides a sense of legitimacy which is critical to any business, especially new ones. You are part of a strong family and brand which is known as being a catalyst and launch pad for business. Second, it provides a clear separation between your personal life and your business life. It's too easy to be consumed by your work if there are no boundaries in place, and let's face it, most of us are challenged with self management. Lastly, off course access to coffee, printing, and conference rooms is a plus. The ability to establish a professional place of business without the barriers to entry allows you to focus on the important things.

Book a tour here to experience the NextSpace Effect for yourself!

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