Imagine, think, then gradually create and establish a start-up is a long process, that I would compare to writing an article due to my professional experience. Like a blank page, a start-up, as much as it will develop in a virtual world, does not appear by chance from anywhere. It originates in a well-defined space, an empty room: a garage, a place that will symbolically act as a garage. A place that will support a vision, a concept and a project.
What are the significance and the perception of a place like a garage in the start-up environment? Nowadays, talking about a garage is almost a cliché. I have in mind the garages of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Apple) or William Hewlett and David Packard (HP). It is a cliché to which the young Uriji Jami does not escape from. Indeed, our start-up originates from a garage, the one from the co-founder’s house, Jean Clauteaux. Originally it was a sort storage room, where people abandoned forgotten objects and neglected projects. But very quickly, it moved from being a storage room to a small creative studio, a secret place, intended for model making, painting, drawing. Dreaming. A place where you bother no one and where no one bothers you. We then perceive the garage as a place both neutral and familiar, close and isolated, where we can write a story.
A garage story which began with the desire of Uriji Jami’s co-founder to start a collection of vintage Mustang cars. It’s in this context, that using a carpenter to build a shelter for them, the future co-founder of Uriji Jami discovers the story of the house, of its former owner, Inga, her exploration of the Orinoco river and the native Yanomami Indians. That’s how by chance, Jean started dreaming of Uriji Jami.
How was the garage renovated? Eight days… Eight days that’s how long it took to completely renovate the old studio. “I was on a business trip for my previous job and my wife took the initiative to realise my dream, and in the space of a week all was as good as new!” says Jean. Thus, the walls were repainted in white, the water stains were dried and erased, the ceiling was renovated, a new carpet was laid and the electricity and lighting were updated to the latest standards. One of the walls of the garage was completely recovered with whiteboard sheets. It is on this whiteboard that the ideas are conceptualised and shared. The garage was now ready to become the brand-new office of the young start-up, Uriji Jami.
Today, when we enter Uriji Jami’s office, one element strikes you straight away: the furniture. Furniture chosen with simplicity and consistency thought for the well-being of the start-up’s staff. Thus, the chairs come from Herman Miller, designed to protect the back and optimise the work efficiency. The tables on which the workstations are set-up are inspired by the Apple Store tables. “Those tables are not designed for an Apple Store but to work on Apple computers, and are therefore suited to our IT equipment”, says Jean. In addition, these tables can be arranged in any manner, which allows optimizing a reduced space like the garage. This might seem trivial, and yet… Jean is profoundly convinced that “one of the garage’s strengths comes from the fact that we are comfortably seated. After the men and women, in Uriji Jami’s office, equipment is the priority”.
What is the future of the garage? For Jean, the response is clear: “If you move the heart, you lose the essence. This is a sacred place, a sort of original chapel that we must preserve”. Therefore, in the mind of its co-founder, Uriji Jami is not perceived as a traditional start-up, a shooting star that must grow quickly, even if it must disappear a few months later, but it is also thought as a long-term project looking to bring people together around this powerful concept that links time to the individual, the “lifeline”. Down to the smallest details, that one might find insignificant, Jean has the constant concern to anchor the start-up in time, a time of quality.
“A time of life…”
Post-it #2: Setting up a workspace…