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The Boston Globe

Business

Time to leave the Kendall Square nest

Prahar Shah

Prahar Shah

From sharing the latest start-up gossip at Venture Cafe to spending sleepless weekends attending hackathons at Microsoft NERD, Kendall Square is a phenomenal place for start-ups. But start-ups, like humans, grow and evolve over time. With this growth, many of us must decide where the best place is to establish our own identities and spread our wings. For Mobee, that place is downtown Boston.

During the critical early stages of a start-up, cash is king. In just a few years, office rents in Kendall Square have increased by nearly 100 percent. On the low end, co-working spaces charge around $500 per person per month. If you want your own office space, the rent can easily double to more than $1,000 per person per month.

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When our company grew beyond 10 employees, we started looking for options outside of Dogpatch Labs, the incubator where we set up shop. We looked all over. When we researched downtown Boston, we found great value for the space offered. Combine that with accessibility to public transportation and a variety of restaurants and bars, and the decision was clear. We had to be in downtown Boston.

Mobee moved into the dome of Boston’s Old City Hall on School Street three months ago. There is something wonderfully symbolic and motivating about innovating in a historically significant building that has been transformed in function, yet withstood the test of time.

We now have two floors of ample desk space, a kitchen, dining room, and three whiteboard-filled conference rooms. When you’re having those priceless “aha moments,” the last thing you should worry about is trying to find a whiteboard to brainstorm on.

The added space allows the flexibility to work and play, and it costs less.

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On the second floor, we have a place our team can go to unwind on our wraparound couch, play Ping-Pong and PS3, and have Nerf wars.

The added space allows the flexibility to work and play, and it costs less than half of what we would pay for similar square footage in Kendall.

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Mobee is a free iPhone app that pays you to review businesses. The move to downtown Boston was in part a realization that our users are rarely the techie types you’ll meet in Kendall Square. Instead, they are students who frequent the many Dunkin’ Donuts in Boston and young professionals who go “Mobeeing” on their lunch breaks.

Being centrally located between the Green, Red, and Orange lines allows us to meet both users and clients and gain the feedback to help us build Mobee into an app that everyone loves.

With all the options around us, we can still meet investors, mentors, and fellow entrepreneurs over lattes that are every bit as strong as those at the Kendall Square hangout, Voltage.

Moving to downtown Boston has been one of the best decisions we’ve made.

Prahar Shah is cofounder and chief executive of Mobee in Boston.

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