Friday, February 15, 2013

Moving day

I was originally going to start this with a joke alluding to one of the signature special effects of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but given the recent events in Russia it's probably in poor taste to speak lightly of flashes in the sky.  But, after much preparation, today was the day that Warp Drive Bio completed packing up, with next week ushering in our new facility.

We are definitely a transformed company from the one that moved into a basic start-up suite about 15 months ago.  There were five of us then; we've nearly quadrupled in size.  Indeed, while the new space necessarily had to be planned since last summer, we've been truly busting at the seams, with each office stuffed. My office would probably be a 2-person at many companies or perhaps 1 executive; we have had four scientists in it since last March.  For quite a while, before any piece of equipment could be ordered, a place needed to found for it, which either involved stacking things more cleverly or demoting some underutilized gadget to storage.  

A key lack of the old facility were any dedicated conference rooms; these were shared facilities three floors away.  That actually didn't work too badly, though they lacked white boards.  Still, it will be nice to have our own.  Another quirk of the building is that knocks at the lab delivery door where easiest to hear in my space (because of sound transmission through the walls), which meant I got regular exercise in the morning letting UPS and FedEx in.

One way the limited space was in some ways good was we didn't have our own kitchenette.  A shared space with two other biotechs, Eleven Biotherapeutics (a sister company, in the sense it was started by the same venture firm) and Verastem, and so we made a number of social connections with folks in those companies.  A fourth company, Blueprint Medicines (another company started by our venture backers) would join us for a monthly "Neighborhood Lunch".  Pleasantries extended beyond lunch (and watching ESPN's weekly selection of sports gaffes on Fridays) to really helping each other out.  Especially early on, it was easy to run short of some supply.  No, I never said "can I borrow a cup of C12H22O11, but we did borrow PCR plates, sealing films and other minor supplies.  Dry ice is easy to run out of and standard for shipping DNA; Verastem was kind enough to "loan" us some on a few occasions.  We all accepted packages for each other if one company was off on a retreat or such, and in the even more dire emergency of a freezer failure space was made available for one's neighbors.  I'd also like to commend the building staff, who were always friendly and also willing to answer questions -- such as the nature of the strange equipment-only 3/4 floor.

Our new space is custom-designed, futuristic and highly functional.  It will supply us much room to grow.  Indeed, a very real concern is that going from a sort of crystal packing of employees to a density akin to a gas could be detrimental to the company's culture, so some of the office space will not be used initially except as quiet hide-a-ways.

So, farewell 215 First Street.  I did more microbiology & molecular biology there than I have anywhere else except my undergraduate days (with a slightly higher success rate).  I have claimed one bench in the new space, but realistically I'll probably never do anything but aliquot samples there and will indubitably yield it to someone who can make better use of it when we start filling up.  Hello 400 Technology Square -  with any luck, genomic vibes from the nearly adjacent Broad Institute will waft our way! 

1 comment:

Dominic Ly said...

It seems that moving day was a long time coming. Your move is definitely a huge sign of growth and more things to come. Yes, there are memories in the old place, but we have to press forward to expand our horizons. I hope that the move wasn’t too stressful though.