I saw a picture on facebook that disparaged what happened Founders Pad after UF took over the space. What only weeks before had bean bag couches, ping-pong tournaments and had a distinct lack of cubicles turned into a farm of cubicles and meeting agendas. There was quite a long thread that all agreed that what was done was quite unfortunate and was the very opposite of what a good startup needed- the corporate culture was not conducive to the embodiment of a startup. I contend that by limiting what you think is conducive to your startup, it is not the space that limits your fledgling idea, it is your own bias.
A little history: I was once an intern for Grooveshark in the very room that is so very disconcerting. It was a full year ago, and I visited very rarely, but I have at least spend an amount of time there. After the internship at a startup incubator, I did the antithesis of what I had at GS: I wrote a resume, cover letter, applied for and eventually got a job at UF, the largest employer in Gainesville by far. This about-face has taught me a lot, and changed my opinion of a few things, one of them being that a space defines your level of creativity, collaboration, and/or ability to be productive.
Now I have a desk in an environment with a half-dozen developers and a designer. I have a workday that starts at 8am and ends at 5, and I have meetings. Lots of meetings. Yet I am able to be productive, collude with other developers, invent and innovate. I have managed to be the driving force behind the UF official app, and the continuing development of new additions to it thanks to student feedback, as well as jump into a new phonegap app with angular(amongst actual web developing).
Then I take a look at startups today, or at least the ones I can glance at here in Gainesville. My situation is the nightmare many in this society, and they have been granted full license to do as they please with the space they are provided. I see ideas half-baked, apps that are bogged down longer in a lack of bureaucracy than any project I have worked on(which is rife with paperwork), and implementations never finished, only talked about.
Naturally there are opposite anecdotes to all of this but my point remains: the space should not define the product. If I were to guess what makes a good space is not the atmosphere defined by the things, or the walls, but the people. It shouldn’t matter if you are in a cubicle farm or an ever-hip abandoned dirigible hangar if the people that you surround yourself are kind, open, honest and helpful.
That all said, I still find that most of my best development moments and breakthrough happen at a coffee shop. There must be something about the smell of beans, terrible music and the drone of a dozen conversations that shoves my brain in a higher gear.