Featured Workplace: Stone & Chalk

Stone & Chalk is an independent, not-for-profit Fintech hub based in Sydney that houses more than 80 Australian startups. We checked out their impressive digs during a guided tour — here are the photos.

Image: Lifehacker

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Since opening its doors in late 2015, Stone & Chalk has been helping financial startups accelerate their business through the use of office facilities and collaboration with government and corporate partners. It fosters all areas of the Fintech landscape including peer-to-peer, crowd-funding, automated advice, capital markets, crypto-currencies and everything in-between.

The sprawling shared workspace currently houses 250 entrepreneurs which are spread across two floors.

Rather than a traditional reception desk, Stone & Chalk boasts a touch screen terminal where guests check themselves in. An email alert is then sent to the recipients.

One of the most striking aspects of the Stone & Chalk workplace are its chalk-covered walls. This includes a community charter, words of wisdom, artworks and the logos of various corporate partners.

The Stone & Chalk building definitely lives up to its namesake. The permanent displays were all painstakingly etched in chalk. (Presumably, chalkboard erasers are banned from the premises.)

The Stone & Chalk facility is built on the concept of open spaces with very few dividers or barriers. This was done strategically to harbour innovation and collaboration between mingling startups. Crucially, no two startup acquisitions ever have the same exact value proposition. By eliminating the direct competition factor, its members are a lot more comfortable sharing ideas.

Stone & Chalk’s ceilings were left deliberately unfinished to match the company’s culture and ethos. The idea is that an innovation hub should always feel like a work in progress; it’s never meant to be complete.

Pocketbook: just one of the 70 odd startups currently in residence at Stone & Chalk. One of the trickiest aspects of workplace management is the physical placement of startups. Stone & Chalk deliberately organises seating to maximise collaboration between companies that can benefit from each other. With headcounts constantly shifting and new startups entering the fray, this can be quite the challenge.

The Fintern Fever Nook is where university students, startups and corporate partners congregate for Stone & Chalk’s fintech internship program. This provides interns with a taste of working for a startup while the startups receive much-needed help in getting projects across the line.

This photo wall commemorates Stone & Chalk’s 44 inaugural companies; most of whom are still members in residence.

It wouldn’t be a co-working hub without a boardroom. In addition, Stone & Chalk provides its members with smaller meeting rooms, whiteboards and monitors. Being not-for-profit, all office equipment is currently donated by corporate partners.

The bottom floor is where Stone & Chalk’s larger teams reside. While still an active part of the community, they are provided with more autonomy, including their own signage and private offices. Data Republic started with four people and now employs over 30.

The facility is dotted with chill-out areas where workers can unwind or work in isolation.

Each week, everyone meets for a “Sweet Spot” event where the whole community meets for a 15-minute injection of sugar and coffee while welcoming new members and sharing success stories. Whenever a startup raises or secures a deal, it gets announced on a bell.

Every Friday, Stone & Chalk provides free drinks to its thirsty entrepreneurs to celebrate another week of hard fintech yakka.

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