Everything was happening at once. Robbie Friedman was on the phone constantly arranging for the sale of his Viewabill software, as he moved from room to room and outside so he could hear. He and his wife has just welcomed their first daughter into their lives, and as joyous an occasion as that was, it was difficult to hold a conversation with the baby fussing in the background. So Robbie got some wood and built himself an “escape pod,” a private office space in his backyard. He allowed his neighbors to use the space, and the pod was so popular that he began to wonder if he might just be onto something. Could there be an unmet need for movable, shareable work spaces?
Robbie’s childhood friend lived in the neighborhood with his wife, Allison Zofan, who consulted on research technology for companies such as Google, Amazon, and Dell. She was interested in Robbie’s idea, had ideas of her own, and the two brainstormed daily until they decided to co-found ootBox (“out of the Box”). Their mission was to deliver private, beautifully designed, environmentally friendly work environments wherever needed.
- Made from 10-foot shipping containers: length 8’ + 2’ for compressor, height 8’ 6”, width 8’
- Equipped with a table for four, writing surfaces on the walls, secure WiFi, and a TV for videoconferencing
- Finished plywood walls and ceiling, carpeted flooring
- Silent climate control, programmable HVAC
- Motion sensor LED lighting
- Secure access with locks and a keypad
- Fiberglass outswing door
- Large window with insulated, tempered glass
- Signage panels
- Custom options include exterior branding (wraps and signage), exterior colors, interior wall materials/color, flooring, and furniture configurations
- State-of-the-art office conveniently delivered to the property, e.g., backyard, parking lot, coffee shop, university campus, shopping center and medical facility
- No foundation or concrete pad needed—simply a level surface that will support a car
- No permits or building codes involved for a temporary 80 sq. ft. structure
- Plugs into a traditional 20amp outlet (uses less electricity than a hair dryer)
- No complicated IT integration
- Bright and airy
- Lease, buy, or lease to buy
Team ootBox: Robbie Friedman and Allison Zofan
Robbie, equipped with a JD degree from the University of Michigan Law School, started his own law firm in New York City. He has a natural tendency to look for ways to improve any process, and he developed a software, Viewabill, that allows clients to see billing in real-time.
Allison graduated from Indiana University with a B.S. in Public Affairs Management and was Senior Executive Advisor at Gartner where she consulted with businesses to optimize their portfolios and implement new workplace strategies.
Unlike many business owners (both new and old), Robbie and Allison did not feel threatened by the effects of COVID-19. They adjusted some of their plans, and COVID turned out to be a boon for them. ootBox was the answer for people forced to figure out how to work from home, how to improvise office space, how to help children with virtual schooling, or simply get a precious moment of quiet with everyone in the family home.
ootBox Works in a Variety of Fields
- Hospitals lease ootBoxes as lab stations in their parking lots. People do not have to enter the hospital for lab services, testing, or treatment.
- Real estate companies set up ootBox leasing offices so that potential clients can stop in with as little contact as possible.
- Apartment complexes add ootBoxes and lease out parcels of time for residents to take advantage of the quiet, equipped office right on site.
- Dining establishments are able to provide private dining by reservation.
- Pop-up retail businesses flourish—and can move around.
- Any sort of event can make use of ootBoxes, but they were an event saver for March Madness 2021.
March Madness 2021, Indianapolis
Not wanting to cancel March Madness again, as in 2020, the NCAA determined that holding the tournament in a centralized location would be safer and more manageable. Indianapolis was chosen to welcome all 68 teams. It was the biggest challenge ever faced by the Indianapolis sports community. ootBox was a major contributor to the success of the event. Volunteers are the heart and soul of a large event like March Madness, and their comfort was a concern. ootBoxes provided comfortable shelter for the volunteers who kept everything running smoothly at transportation check-in stations and at hotels hosting participating teams, referees, journalists, TV crews, support staff, and family members. They also served as a resting place for the volunteers between shifts.