Growing the E-sports Community in Vancouver
May 25 , 2021
The year 2020 has been “crazy” for most of us, to say the least. We all had to adapt our lives to the new way of normal and fight our way through the toilet paper apocalypse, just kidding – or not.
For start-ups, the pandemic introduced a whole new level of challenge and innovation. This month, we sat down with our new friends, Jonathan Kim and Clare Yaghjian to talk about their experience building the Home Key, an e-sports training and co-working facility in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Join us in the conversation below!
1. Congratulations on the opening of the Home Key in Vancouver! Can you tell us a bit about you/yourselves?
Thank you! Clare and I are originally from New York. We moved here at the end of 2018 to start the build-out for our first facility in Vancouver. My background is in digital marketing while Clare’s is in art and design. We’ve both worked exclusively out of coworking spaces for the past 8 years and made a lot of valuable connections throughout our experiences there. Our goal now is to provide the same kind of workspace infrastructure for esports, gaming and content creation.
2. How did you come up with the name “the Home Key”?
The name comes from the “home” key on the keyboard and the concept behind it is to create a space that the esports industry can call home. The esports scene is larger than ever but its stakeholders are isolated. The Home Key will serve as a connection point, offering an environment for professional development and community growth. There’s a lot of value in seeing the same faces consistently and being able to organically build your network.
3. Who is this space meant for and is it open to the public?
Our space is open to anyone interested in gaming and esports. We operate as a coworking space M – F offering monthly memberships that include a high-speed gaming CPU, gaming monitor & full set of peripherals.
Outside of the workspace, we operate as a casual hangout spot on the weekends. Guests can play a variety of esports titles on our PCs, retro games on our consoles or enjoy a cup of coffee while playing board games with friends.
4. What do you see in the future of e-sports?
I see the future of esports being a lot more accessible and collaborative. The wave of esports investment that we see today primarily goes towards the top 1% of the industry. I think we’ll see a new wave of investment into esports infrastructure. This will create the stability necessary for the industry to grow as a whole. For esports to reach its full potential, sustainability is key.
5. You partnered with Abacus and subscribed to over 40 furniture pieces. What was your experience like and why did you go for a furniture subscription?
It’s been an amazing experience and the timing couldn’t have been better. During the height of COVID with a minimal budget, we found ourselves struggling to design our 6,000 sq ft facility. Quality was something we never wanted to compromise on and luckily we found Abacus. Through the rental service, we were able to avoid a ton of upfront costs while continuing to build out the rest of our design scope simultaneously. Abacus provided us with flexibility which translated into more room for growth.
6. Why do you think a shared economy is an important piece of our future?
A shared economy brings down costs and lowers the level of commitment needed to get something going. People can simply do more with less. When you’re not worried about your bottomline, it makes space for creativity which is something every entrepreneur and startup can value.
7. Tips on how to make a comfortable and productive workspace?
Flexibility is important. Everyone works differently so we try to provide a variety of settings. In half our space there’s lounge seating, the lights are a little lower and there’s music in the background for a relaxed work environment.
In the other half of our space, the lights are brighter, there are workstations with ergonomic chairs and plenty of space for each individual member to stay focused. We try to keep our design minimal but you can never have enough plants or twinkly lights.
8. What are some must-have items for your office?
You can’t underestimate the value of a good chair. Happy back, happy person. When covid first started, I was working from home for about 9 months on the worst wooden dining room chair. Now I’m happily working on one of the many chairs we received from Abacus!
9. What has your experience been like launching your business during the pandemic?
Our time in Vancouver basically feels like startup bootcamp. Going through Vancouver city permitting for a year followed by a year of covid has provided a really steep learning curve. Our team has become very resilient and we’ve proven to ourselves that we can find creative solutions in any situation.
10. Do you have any words of wisdom to share with other businesses that are trying to take off during this time?
Half the battle of being a successful entrepreneur is having your mentality in the right space. Keep things light and be patient with yourself. There’s a lot of value in being able to laugh. You already know you’re giving it your all each day so prioritize your time to rest. If you’re not happy and healthy then what’s the point?