A collaborative new home for Aotearoa’s creative technology community - Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi

A collaborative new home for Aotearoa’s creative technology community

Interview by Kerryanne Nelson

is a new co-working space located in one of Unitec’s heritage buildings at it’s Mt Albert campus. Described by tenant Scott Cardwell, CEO and Founder of ImmerseME as “a vibrant collaborative space with like-minded creative tech companies and community feels”, Click aims to create a creative collaborative community, providing so much more than office space to its growing group of tenants.

Click is also Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi’s new home, a space where our small team and broader network can congregate and work collaboratively. “We’ve loved meeting the other co-workers and are building relationships with entities such as NZ Writers Guild and Women in Film and Television, who share our interest in advocacy and collaboration across the creative ecosystem” says Alison Taylor, Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi Chief Executive.

We speak to Click’s founder Rohan Adarkar about his vision for Click Studios, as well as New Zealand’s role in creative technology innovation and career pathways.

Rohan Adarkar

Tell us what you are trying to create with Click Studios.

Click was born out of a need for us to put a spotlight on the creativity, technology and innovation that’s happening very organically in New Zealand. Aleisha [Staples, of Staples VR] and I had been thinking about this idea for about five years. Amazingly, Covid was a catalyst for us to actually stay in the country and focus on it. It gave us a multi-layered prerogative together, to get this going. We wanted to bring the focus back to creativity. We strive to create an atmosphere of inclusion and collaboration, with the primary focus of making creative technology a scalable export from New Zealand.

We met with the team from Unitec and they had a building that was ready to go. So having a turn key facility really helped us get the vision off the ground and focus on the more important stuff.

Why was coworking an area that you were interested in getting into?

I’ve got a background in a range of interesting creative industries. I mesh two things together all the time and that’s been the history of how I’ve always approached things. My first company was in music and so very creative-driven, but saw technology as a means to an end from a distribution channel perspective. So bringing those two very left brain, right brain ideas together to provide a solution to a problem in music distribution.

That was in the early two thousand. When you’re in your twenties, the world’s your oyster and you think you can do anything. Merging two technologies became an enabler of everything. That’s been my approach right the way through. I then moved into more of a consulting role from a creative technology perspective and learned to partner and collaborate with a wide range of people.  Some of those values and ways of thinking have been foundational in what Click’s values are as well.  We’ve tried to create a community that is very inclusive, collaborative, appreciates each other and has an international global network and outlook.

Pre-Covid, I travelled a lot. And I saw the respect that others have for people from New Zealand. They really want to collaborate with us. They think of our country as a haven, and it’s not just about being green or being sustainable, or beautiful or being known for rugby, or even a good exchange rate, it goes far deeper than that. It is our approach to problem solving and how we perceive the world.

What do you think has driven that international respect?

I think on the international stage, we’re known as being really laid back, approachable, and innovative. Being able to do more with less. So funneling that back to the idea and the ethos behind Click is that we want it to bring all these companies and associations under one roof, because they’re all doing great stuff, but imagine what they could do together on an international scale.

And you’re able to help with making those introductions?

Yeah, over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time on planes to develop these ongoing relationships. I spent a lot of time keeping these connections going. We’re regularly talking about what we’re working on, and if there are any synergies or opportunities that come from them.

What does ‘creative technology’ mean to you?

Bringing creativity to technology gives it humanity. If a human plays a piece of music on a piano, the first thing they want to do is hide their imperfection – to hit quantise and make it as perfect as possible. On the contrary, if you get a computer to write a piece of music, your first step is to humanise it. To make it a little bit less perfect. I think that’s very interesting because you’re trying to make a computer do something that it’s naturally not good at. But when you bring the two together and you stay in your lane and you use each other to enhance the vision of what you’re trying to do, that’s where the magic happens. So that’s the whole idea behind creative technology from a Click perspective. Taking the best of what each organisation within these walls has to offer and bringing their subject matter expertise into the collective so that they can do more together.

You've got a really diverse and interesting selection of tenants so far. Have you been thinking hard about who to bring in?

Absolutely. That’s been very important. It’s been strange to launch a coworking space in the middle of a pandemic but New Zealand’s uniqueness enables us to do this. We’ve managed to get a whole bunch of tenants to fill up the rooms. We’ve had to start converting areas into more desk space and our boardroom into another office. We’re now actively looking at further premises and have a waiting list of companies wanting to join our community.

We also have associate members that are not physically based on the premises. Some are based overseas in LA, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore or Mumbai for example. These companies and individuals see value in being part of the Click community and our channels of collaboration.

There are a lot of coworking spaces out there, but it seems like Click is providing something extra in terms of monthly events, facilities and access to gear.

Absolutely. A lot of spaces’ primary motivation is desk sales and occupancy. Ours is definitely not that. Our driver is collaboration, chemistry and fit. The spaces we’ve engineered were with that in mind. So we’ve created separate lockable offices because people have gear – they’re creatives. They want to set up their space and have things there that inspire them. And at times, privacy too.

From a facilities perspective, we found that so many companies do great work, but don’t necessarily talk about it or do the PR or communications piece well. So we’ve tried to create resources for them to use internally. We’ve got a lot of gear in here. We’ve got an audio booth to do voice overs, podcasts or whatever people need. We have access to green screens so people can create promo videos or do photo shoots. Through our tenants, we’ve got access to a lot of high-end gear and equipment too, as well as the expertise to help drive it all.

We’re also interested in the philosophy of creating a sustainable workforce. So from an educational perspective, if someone wants to learn how to use a piece of gear, we give them access to it at no cost, which is really innovative for the industry. And it’s very much a point of difference to the traditional co-working space. I feel like the timing and vision for Click is almost perfect given the fact that we’ve had entire industries massively disrupted due to Covid.

I feel like there’s a massive opportunity to completely disrupt what tech looks like in NZ . There’s so many values in New Zealand culture, Maori culture, Pacific culture that the tech community could benefit from. The creative approach to things, the value system, the importance of community. You know, there’s always an extra plate of food at that table for whomever walks through the door at dinner time. And I think that’s what the values of the creative tech community need to be. We need to build an open-door policy and create opportunities for people who have not had those opportunities before simply because of their circumstances. If we can help navigate that circumstance for them and open the door for them, we as a community stand to benefit from their creativity.

What’s your focus for the next 12 months or so?

We’re interested in entering the education space with a new take on a vocational training programme. I’ve done a competitive analysis of all the educational facilities and what they’re offering in terms of creative tech, and there’s definitely a gap from what I’ve seen. Not one of them is priced appropriately or short enough to make a difference to industry resourcing needs. So that’s an area we’re looking hard at to see if we can bring an alternative to.

If people are reading this piece and wondering if there's an opportunity for them to come and work here at Click, do you still have space?

Yes. We’re actively looking at other buildings now too. We’re not too far from the city and it’s a great facility with a lot of greenery, a lot of light, a beautiful old building with great people. I also love the juxtaposition of being in an old heritage building with the techy side of our tenants’ work. So if you’re interested, definitely reach out.

About Click Studios:
Click Studios is a social enterprise co-working space set up to enable New Zealand’s creative tech companies and individuals to rapidly up-skill and become internationally-focused while providing a local location to connect and learn from each other. The studio has facilities for content creation such as photo, audio, AR/VR and emerging tech equipment. We also offer virtual offices, meetup spaces, offices, meeting rooms, and desks.

More information about the space or booking a tour can be found at www.clickstudios.co.nz.