Although most people know Paseo Center in Makati as the building across Ayala Triangle that gets crowded with hungry office workers at lunch-time, it is also a tech hub. The fourth and fifth floors house the headquarters of FutureNow Ventures and nine of its portfolio startups, such as Reekoh, Cloudswyft, and Hammerjack.
Upon ascending to the fifth floor, guests are greeted with the smell of brewed coffee. To the right, below two LED TV screens playing Netflix shows, there is a coffee bar staffed by award-winning baristas who serve up everyone’s preferred drink over the work day, including everything from lattes and cappuccinos to iced mochas and flat whites.
These baristas also double as bartenders. Every last Friday of the month, they mix cocktails and pour shots as FutureNow hosts themed parties open to companies across the portfolio, even those who have already grown large enough as an organization to move out from the main office, like Booky or Salarium. They’ve had everything from quiz nights and open mics — the last one featured a lineup of professional comedians.
The FutureNow office is the brainchild of co-founder and CEO John Orrock, who designed and perused its every detail. He built the main work area as an open floor. There are “upcycled” coffee tables, some of which he personally assembled, and wire-metal chairs occupied by creative and tech professionals in their early- to mid-twenties. Acoustic renditions of pop hits play during lunch breaks.
Self-organizing, agile teams
While open floor plans are increasingly common in the Philippines, what’s notable about FutureNow’s version is that the office is modular. All tables — and indeed, most of the chairs — have wheels, which is intended to facilitate collaboration. Teams can self-organize, and just as quickly, disband and form a new working arrangement, as the project or initiative calls. In other words, by design, people at FutureNow are agile.
Such collaboration is necessary because the portfolio companies focus on enterprise products, leveraging Microsoft’s technology stack, or industry-specific solutions. The most recent addition to the office is Ambidextr, a content marketing studio focused on serving tech companies across Asia Pacific.
Ambidextr co-founder and managing editor Junie Agcaoili is proud of the work environment.
“The culture at FutureNow is very authentic. You bump into people in the hallways, at the bar, and everyone is eager to share how they’re trying to change their little corner of the world. Being surrounded by people like this is inspiring and motivating. It’s easy to dream big when everyone else is doing the same,” said Agcaoili, who was a member of some of the pioneering tech startups in the Philippines, having been part of Chikka’s founding team and served as its head of corporate communications, and more recently as senior manager at Voyager Innovations which just had a major buy-in from a consortium including China tech giant Tencent.
In addition to serving tech companies across Asia Pacific, Ambidextr also serves some of its fellow companies in the FutureNow Portfolio, such as neighbor-mates and recruitment platform Recruitday. The proximity between the two companies makes it easy to discuss and strategize for Recruitday’s brand-building activities, such as its content marketing or public relations.
If team members do need a quiet place to concentrate, there are pockets of private spaces they can choose to stay in. Surrounding the office floor are meeting rooms named after the birthplaces of the founders (Kurri Kurri for John Orrock; Antipolo for Jeffrey Sia; and Austinville for Ken Struthers), all of which provide a sweeping view of the trees and greenery of Ayala Triangle.
In the zone
Those who want to take breaks from all the writing can opt for game areas — one equipped with an XBox One and another with a race car simulator. Team members can be heard playing and speeding down race tracks and street courses at all hours of the day.
The vibe of the office is particularly attractive to young talent.
“Have you ever had that feeling when you’re ‘in the zone’? I feel that here at the office all the time: I get to learn, I get to create, I get to work alongside an amazingly talented group of people — and that can be very infectious,” said marketing associate Hana Severina, who lends her talent to writing blogs and features and strategizing their thought leadership.
“Thought Leadership” elevates the daily discussions that happen in innovative offices like FutureNow, from the challenges that startups face to how technology can be pivotal in solving social issues into meaningful content that can initiate collaborations between them and their stakeholders.
“We find ourselves in the midst of this new intellectual ferment where ideas are percolating like never before,” said Ambidextr co-founder and head of business development Sofia Galve.
“And I feel that’s where we can step in: help talented individuals and businesses to ensure their ideas, products and services reach the people that need them most.”