See Why Toolbox LA Is The Valley’s New Innovation Hub

SEE WHY TOOLBOX LA IS THE VALLEY’S

New Innovation Hub


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Written by Raychel Espiritu 

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Last month’s grand opening for Toolbox LA and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Makers Summit was a massive success. The building was flooded with influential politicians, entrepreneurs, designers, marketers, students, and more. Spirits were high as everyone celebrated the new hub of innovation in the San Fernando Valley.  Mayor Eric Garcetti sat down with our very own Noramay Cadena for a fireside chat about the ecosystem of manufacturing in Los Angeles.

If you’d like to tour Toolbox LA and see why it’s garnered so much attention in such a short time, you’re welcome to schedule a free tour here.


Printing Partnerships: Toolbox LA and SD3D

PRINTING PARTNERSHIP

Toolbox LA and SD3D


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Written by Raychel Espiritu 

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Toolbox LA has recently integrated SD3D into its ecosystem. SD3D is a 3D printing firm established in 2013 by Bennett Berger and David Feeny in San Diego. They have a satellite office in Dallas and now have another here in Los Angeles.

SD3D started off as a small design printing services shop, printing prototypes and other small batches of orders. Over time, they adapted their model to accommodate high volume, low-cost productions for clients who could not afford an injection mold of their product.

They have developed their own proprietary hardware automation —  a piece of technology that could remove the print from the plate without the use of human interaction, thereby lowering costs. They further separated themselves from the pack by acquiring a software called Prinitilize, which would enable anyone who visited their website to get an instant quote on their print by assessing the dimensions and determining the cost.

SD3D provides an in-house printing solution for the many small startups that populate Toolbox LA. It’s a valuable asset to have an efficient turnaround time for a part so that the startups can focus more on growing their business without getting bogged down by the actual hardware. In their short tenure at Toolbox, SD3D has already been a service to the community by printing fully serviceable prototypes for CrunchCup and drone parts for Radii Robotics. If you want to see them in action feel free to book a tour.


Why A Coworking Space Is Where Startups Need To Be

WHY A COWORKING SPACE IS

Where Startups Need To Be


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Written by Raychel Espiritu 

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Depending on what stage your startup is at, you may or may not be working in out of your house or coffee shop. Which seems like a dream at first but can be taxing after a while.

A Coworking space is a perfect solution for a self-starter. It provides a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing place to work around other motivated people. You have the flexibility of coming in and sitting where you want while also offering some familiar faces that could potentially help your business prosper.

Coworking spaces provide the opportunity for someone to learn more about business and marketing in general, as they often have distinguished speakers that give talks that are free for members.

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We here at Toolbox LA are having our Grand Opening on October 1st, which will be christened by Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti among other renowned visitors. As part of our celebration, we’ve teamed up with ViralSweep for a giveaway and everyone wins SOMETHING. So go ahead and try your luck!


Marketing Events: Planning, Promoting, and Executing

MARKETING EVENTS:

Planning, Promoting, and Executing


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Written by Raychel Espiritu 

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Creating, promoting, and facilitating a marketing event can be a stressful experience, but you’ll find that the juice is worth the squeeze. Ideally, the speaker imparts battle-tested strategies and which pitfalls to avoid to a captive audience, eager to gain any advantage that separates them from the competition. Partnerships can be formed, connections made, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a free meal out of it. Marketing events are generally a win for everyone involved, but they take a decent amount of preparation. Here’s what you need to do to ensure success:

Book an appropriate venue

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You need a space to before you can determine your potential headcount. You don’t need to hold your event in a huge ballroom just to impress people (though it wouldn’t hurt if you had that kind of pull). Ideally, you’ll find a place with a sound system, a projector, and enough room for people to sit. Coworking spaces are great because there’s usually a built-in audience since most people there are fledgling companies that could use some help in one form or another. But even these are not hard and fast rules — it doesn’t have to be so formal. People will go to an apartment if the speaker is good enough, that’s how Simon Sinek got his start on the public speaking circuit.

Find great speakers

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If you have friends in high places, definitely call in some favors to see if they themselves or someone they know will speak at your event. If you don’t, thankfully you have the internet. Your aim should be people who are experienced and knowledgeable on topics that people are interested in.  Slideshare is a great place to find speakers and key topics that will draw an audience. It gives you the chance to see how popular your event topic is and if the speaker’s slides are visually pleasing. From there you can cross reference them on YouTube to see if they’re dynamic, charismatic speakers. While these traits and skills are nice to have, they go out the window if they’re imparting something that you can’t get anywhere else. People don’t line up to see Warren Buffett for his animal magnetism — they just want to learn from him.

Get the word out

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Don’t rely on your speaker to attract an audience, they may be a draw but you have to make sure people know about it. Announce your event to your email list (if you have one) and on your social media channels. Post in local Facebook and LinkedIn groups affiliated with your topic, create a hashtag for Twitter and Instagram and seek out people in your area to connect with. Paid ads on Facebook are an effective means of promoting your event as long as you know who to target and have the goods to back it up. But even more efficient than that is retargeting the people that have paid a visit to your site, assuming you have a Facebook pixel. Last but not least, put your event discovery sites like Eventbrite and Meetup.

Have people sign in

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Get the name and email of everyone who showed up to your event through a sign in software like Envoy, Convergent, VPass, or good ol’ fashion pen and paper. Ideally, you inquire about how your guest heard about the event and what they hope to get out of it; more information makes for more customization, leading to a better user experience. If you find enough people’s interests align, you can tailor your event to your audience and start creating a sense of community.

Provide food an beverages

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Who doesn’t like tiny, free sandwiches that you can eat with toothpicks? Having a little snack station can ease the tension of strangers getting together for the first time, allowing them to break the ice in a natural way. It gives them the incentive to come earlier and leave later. Don’t forget the power of sponsorships. Asking a local business to provide food in exchange for promo can support in reducing your budget.

Assessment and follow up

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Assess what went well and what didn’t. Did you meet your attendance goal? Were your presenters up to par? Did your audience leave with something more than what they came in with? Which of your planning methods proved themselves to be fruitful? When the event is over, send out an email to your attendees with your speaker’s notes and other resources. Finally, reach out to them again before your next event and tell them what to expect.

You might be wondering why someone would want to go through the trouble of putting one together for little to no money, and there are a few great reasons. Marketing events are fantastic for lead generation if you are showcasing your product or service. They can facilitate partnerships and business deals between you and your guests, or simply amongst themselves. Either way, you are cultivating a community of people who all have similar goals, the consequences of which will most likely bring a lot of value to not only your life but those around you.

These are the keys to throwing great marketing events and there’s so much more to go over but that’s for another time.


The Fallacy of Hustle

The Fallacy of Hustle


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Written by Raychel Espiritu 

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No matter if you’re an employee, an intern, or a founder, when it comes to startup life, long hours are a part of your reality. Yet, today, overwork isn’t just accepted, it’s becoming increasingly glorified and normalized by pop culture. Across today’s entrepreneurial community, specifically, an obsession with “hustle” is running rampant.

Why?

One of the primary drivers of this trend is the growing popularity of entrepreneurship as a whole. Being an entrepreneur has always required grit and long hours in exchange for a large potential payout when all is said and done. Now, with over 500,000 new businesses being launched every single month in the United States alone, everyone seems to be an entrepreneur. Couple this the fact that some tech founders have become celebrities (like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and more), and it’s little wonder why so many people think working 80 hours per week is a bulletproof strategy to wealth and success.

Another reason for the perpetuation of overwork is the fact we’re always connected to the online world. Now that most of us have the Gmail app installed on our smartphones, you can no longer avoid that angry email from a customer sent to you at midnight. You can no longer avoid that Slack message sent to you by your co-founder, or that negative Yelp review. While these tools are helpful in a lot of ways, they’re harmful in the sense that they never allow for anyone to truly be away from their work.

The intention behind the working hard is certainly good, but the interpretation is where things have gotten sticky. As a result, it’s becoming more clear than ever before that the concept of hustle has been taken overboard and is causing more harm than good in a lot of ways. Here are just a few of them.

Consequences of Overworking

#1. Negative Impact on Your Health

Research has linked longer working hours with depression, heart disease, and more. For instance, a study conducted in London amongst 10,000 white-collar workers found those who averaged notching 3 or more hours above a standard workday experienced a 60% higher risk of heart-related diseases relative to those who didn’t.

#2. Longer Hours Doesn’t Necessarily Correlate to Higher Output

Anyone who has ever pulled an all-nighter knows we certainly aren’t the sharpest, most alert version of ourselves the day after. By consistently being exhausted when you show up to work, you’re increasing the chances of making a mistake, whether big or small. In the business world, perception is reality, and even a couple misspelled words in an email might cause an investor or a client to question your attention to detail.

Don’t waste tomorrow by doing half-ass work late into the night. If you find yourself strapped for time at midnight, go to sleep and get up an hour earlier than usual. This way, you won’t be shooting yourself in the foot twice.

#3. Not Ideal For Good Habit Setting

Practicing regular, healthy habits is a critical piece to success in any field, but it’s especially important for founders. As the key decision maker at your organization, it’s in the best interest of your company that you’re always at your optimal state so you can function at a high level.

According to Aubrey Marcus (CEO of the innovative nutrition and lifestyle company, Onnit), CEOs and upper-level executives burn nearly as many calories during the day as professional athletes do. Because of this, people in positions of authority at organizations should to be in the best condition physically, emotionally and mentally day in, day out. By working extremely late and pounding Red Bulls, you’re setting yourself up for irregularity, inconsistency and poor habits by not having a routine set in place.

Additionally, according to a 2015 study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, people who work long hours are more likely to participate in binge drinking. Lastly, those who work late are more than likely doing so on their computers. Research has found that overexposure to artificial light can negatively impact your REM (or “deep sleep”). You can remedy this by trying out the f.lux app, which dims your laptop brightness to a healthy level depending on the time of day.

What We Can Do About It

#1. Have Non-negotiable Me-time

Having non-negotiable me-time, where you take time to focus on self-care as opposed to work, is paramount to preserving a healthy work-life balance and overall wellbeing. Take up a hobby that will get you out of your comfort zone. Go to a meetup where you don’t know any of the attendees. Take your dog or significant other to the beach for a day.

As a startup founder, it’s easy to slip into the trap of throwing your entire identity into your business. To combat this, don’t just be “MacKenzie the Startup Founder”, but also be “MacKenzie the Rock Climber”, or  “MacKenzie the Photographer”. This will allow you to emotionally and physically detach yourself from your work, enabling you to recharge your batteries.

#2. Practice Mindfulness & Meditation

There’s a reason why mindfulness and meditation are spreading like wildfire: they both work. One of the most beneficial parts of mindfulness and meditation is allowing you to let go of the things you have zero control over. To get started, try downloading an app like Headspace, or search Meetup.com for local meditation groups.

#3. Set Mental Boundaries

One of the easiest ways to detach yourself from work is to set mental boundaries which separate your work life from your home life. For instance, if you use your laptop all day in the office, consider only using your tablet or smartphone for browsing the web when you get home. If you have a home office, consider having a strict policy of not working in any other room of the house. What this will do is create psychological triggers in your brain that will make you associate one area with leisure and relaxation and one with work.

You can also use a tool like AppDetox which enables you to set boundaries for app usage within your own smartphone, allowing you to take regular digital detoxes.

#4. Take a damn vacation!

If your business can’t run without you for a week, then you’ve built it wrong. Plain and simple. If you don’t have talented members of your team who you can trust to keep the business afloat while you’re gone, it’s about time to start looking for new hires.

It’s no secret that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is tough for entrepreneurs and members of the startup community. Despite the fact that long hours, every now and then, are inevitable, hustling yourself to death is never the right answer.

Thanks for reading.


The Founder’s Guide to Marketing Automation

THE FOUNDER’S GUIDE TO

Marketing Automation


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Written by Raychel Espiritu 

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If you’re in the process of launching a business, chances are you’ve experienced just how tedious marketing can become. As an entrepreneur, freelancer or business professional, you’ve got a million other things to worry about: sales, product market fit, client calls, walking your dog, you name it.

Partly as a way to cope with how time-consuming marketing often is, automation has become a hot topic across the landscape in recent years. Yet, despite the popularity of marketing automation, knowing where and how to start is often unclear. Additionally, according to Hubspot, most entrepreneurs and marketers are unhappy with their automation systems, so it’s apparent all the kinks haven’t been ironed out yet.

That being said, the dissatisfaction many entrepreneurs are experiencing can be traced back to this common misconception about marketing automation: by applying it, you’ll never have to worry about marketing again.

While we aren’t too far from AI-powered marketing assistants, believing automation can be applied to all stages of your marketing funnel is far from the truth. The top of the marketing funnel (consisting of brainstorming campaigns, creating content and overall strategy) isn’t anywhere close to being automated, so whipping out the whiteboard is something you’ll need to do for years to come. For now, only the middle of the marketing funnel (responding to direct messages, sending thank-you emails to newsletter subscribers, etc.) is capable of being automated.

Once this idea sinks in, the fun of automation can begin. The primary aspects of your marketing which you can automate are social media marketing, email marketing, and landing pages. Here’s how to get started with all three.

Automating Your Social Media Marketing

It’s hard to think of a more time-consuming task than social media. While most entrepreneurs know how essential social is to keeping their community up-to-date with their brand, very few of them want to spend their precious time responding to Tweets from angry customers. To help ease the load, here are some areas of social media you can automate, plus how to do it.

Publishing Content

Publishing is the main part of social media that you can (and should) be automating. By using tools like Hootsuite, Buffer or Agorapulse, you’ll be able to “set it and forget it”, saving yourself loads of time throughout the content creation process. You can also use a tool like Tweetdeck to pre-schedule Tweets.

Another fantastic pre-scheduling app is MeetEdgar. The thing that makes MeetEdgar unique is it automatically recycles and publishes past content you’ve created across different categories (blog posts, YouTube videos, Tweets, etc.) so you don’t have to manually comb through your content graveyard to find something to repost.

Repurposing Your Content Across Multiple Platforms

Another time-sucking task within social media is republishing pieces of content across multiple social media platforms. That’s where applications like IFTTT or Zapier come in handy. With these tools, you’ll be able to set up a number of “triggers” that’ll spare you from copying and pasting content from one platform to the next.

Whether you’re looking to automatically send Tweets out every time you publish a new blog post, republish your Instagram posts to Twitter or anything else, chances are high you’ll find what you’re looking for in IFTTT.

Pro Tip: IFTTT even has a whole collections page dedicated to “applets” (their fancy word for triggers) designed specifically for social media.

Things to Avoid

Before you get too excited and automate every last part of your social media, it’s important to be cognizant of some common rookie mistakes that could make you appear tacky and inauthentic if used improperly.

#1.) Automated Direct Messages

Most of us have been a victim of these canned responses on Twitter, LinkedIn and beyond. These messages are typically sent immediately after you follow someone, and they almost always contain an unsolicited pitch asking you to download an ebook, subscribe to them on YouTube or whatever else the person wants from you. While these messages may seem harmless, keep in mind they could easily make your brand come off as needy, self-serving or both.

Just because someone made eye contact with you doesn’t mean they want you to ask them on a date. Similarly, just because someone followed you on social media doesn’t mean you two are best friends and future business partners. In short, when it comes to automation, use discretion.

#2.) Buying Fake Followers

Steer clear of tools that automatically add followers to your social media profiles. In addition to looking shady, the possible repercussions make it far from worth the risk. Anyone could use a tool like Social Blade to discover you bought followers, causing people to lose trust in your brand.

I know it’s tempting, especially after a long day in the office working on every other aspect of your business besides social media. That being said, it’s better to have 100 engaged, real followers than 10,000 bots that could damage your reputation if you got exposed.

Automating Your Email Marketing

Let’s make this clear: email marketing is far from dead. In fact, it’s one of the safest ways to cultivate and sustain a community of loyal users over a long period of time. With social media platforms like Vine and Meerkat rising and dying right before our eyes, it’s best to never build your house on rented land when it comes to marketing. In order to start building a house of your own, you’ll need an email list.

Some amazing tools to help take the tedium out of email marketing are Mailchimp, Autopilot, and Constant Contact. These platforms help you seamlessly create email templates, send out emails to distinct segments of your list, and much more.

When it comes to automating your email marketing, arguably the most useful feature these platforms can provide you with is segmentation. Simply put, segmentation allows you to automatically send distinct emails to members of your audience in different stages of your marketing funnel. For instance, anyone who signs up for your next promotion via email would receive a “thank you” message while anyone who didn’t sign up for it would receive a follow-up email covering the promotion in further detail, and more.

There are endless tricks you can do with your email marketing. Start by watching a YouTube tutorial or two (or ten) covering the email marketing platform you choose to utilize.

Automating Your Landing Pages

A solid landing page could mean the difference between you converting 0.2% of your leads into paying customers or 20%. Lucky for all of us, it’s a whole lot easier to create landing pages today than it was in years past. Prior to tools like Instapage hitting the marketplace, designers and developers would usually need to create a unique landing page from scratch for their marketing campaigns.

Now, with apps like Leadpages, you can easily create proven, high-converting pages to promote your next product launch, webinar, blog post or anything else you’re looking to get more eyeballs on.

On your homepage, you can also automate the email capturing process by integrating your website with a product like List Builder from Sumo, which creates pop-up pages to make sure you don’t miss out on engaged visitors.

It’s true that marketing can get extremely time consuming. While there will always be a lot of legwork involved, there definitely are ways to optimize your time and automate the mindless portions of the process. Start by automating these 3 facets of your marketing. Once you do, you’ll already be 10 steps ahead of your competitors.


The Future of Work: Coworking

THE FUTURE OF WORK:

Coworking


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Written by Raychel Espiritu 

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We live in an exciting time, to say the least. With self-driving cars beginning to rove the streets of American cities, supercomputers outperforming top contestants on Jeopardy and drones delivering goods right to our doorstep, it’s become crystal clear technology is moving faster than ever before and re-sculpting the world around us — and the way we work is no exception.

How we work, where we work, and even why we work is changing by the day, and it’s up to us to adapt or risk falling behind. The gig economy is in full swing. Freelance work is projected to make up 43% of the US workforce by 2020. According to CareerBuilder, from 2016 to 2017 alone, the US saw a 47% increase in the number of entrepreneurs who claimed they would be hiring freelancers during the calendar year.

Remote work is also becoming more common than ever. Employers are becoming open to the idea of remote work, with 43% of American workers doing at least some of their work remotely in 2016, according to a Gallup poll.

Undoubtedly, a lot is changing in terms of the idea of work, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The Future of Work

So what exactly will the future of work entail? Well, to start, the future of work will include a lot more coworking spaces, home offices, and work-from-home days. The future of work will welcome and encourage more programs like Remote Year, where patrons travel the world as a collective while working from cafes and hotel rooms. The future of work will see a rise in the number of digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and freelancers.

Most importantly though, the future of work will be driven by what makes us, as workers, the happiest. Maybe it’s working from home in your Ninja Turtles pajama pants. Perhaps it’s being surrounded by other like-minded entrepreneurs in a coworking space, or maybe even being your own boss as a self-employed graphic designer.

No matter who you are, as long as you’re open to adapting and are able to embrace change, the future of work is for you.

What’s Causing This?

A number of factors are helping to shift the way we work. Here are a few of them:

The Rise of the Freelance Economy

As mentioned, the freelance economy is growing. There are many reasons for this. One is companies have been forced to become more agile and lean within the ever-changing marketplace we live in, making it less than optimal to hire full-time employees. Another reason is the rise of startups and entrepreneurship at large. With more companies being launched than in previous decades, work needs to get done fast and oftentimes on a budget.

As a result of increased demand for freelance work, there are also platforms like Upwork and Fiverr which have taken off and enabled many to make a full-time income with their skills as well as streamlined the entire process of finding, hiring and paying freelancers, making it easier than ever before to make money as a freelance worker.

A Remote-Friendly World

In 2016, 43% of American workers did at least some of their work remotely, up from 39% in 2012. During the same time frame, the number of full-time remote workers also rose from 15% to 20%.

It’s evident that companies are becoming more receptive to remote work. One reason is the advent of technology to facilitate working from home. Today, it’s often quicker to send a Slack message than it is to get up from your desk and walk across the office, so remote work is beginning to make more sense than ever. Research is also showing that remote work is making employees feel happier, more appreciated, and productive.

What makes the fire in your belly burn / what motivates you?

Whether you’re a remote worker or a solopreneur, working from home definitely isn’t for everyone, especially if you have kids or pets to worry about. Coffee shops aren’t always ideal either, as anyone who’s ever had to fight for an electrical outlet can agree on.

Because of this and all the factors listed in this article, it’s no wonder why coworking spaces are seeing an average annual growth rate of 23%, with projections expected to rise to 3.8 million coworkers and 26,000 spaces by 2020. 

Benefits of Coworking Spaces

Considering signing up for a membership at a coworking space? There are a lot of benefits to becoming a member at one. Here are just a few of those benefits:

Collaborating and networking with other entrepreneurs

One of the biggest perks of joining a coworking space is the proximity to countless movers and shakers across various industries. This can make coworking spaces a “referral heaven” for your business if you take the time to build relationships with the people around you. Additionally, productivity is contagious, and being surrounded by so many other ambitious individuals is like having a gym partner to keep you accountable.

Being smart about your budget

Whether you’re a startup founder with investors watching your burn rate like its Game 7 of the World Series or a solopreneur squeezing the value out of every penny, being smart about where you spend your money as a business is crucial to success. For many, it just doesn’t make much sense to blow $4,000 per month on a rundown office space. A coworking space provides members with an affordable, always-on option to come and go on their own schedule.

A physical space just works.

There are many upsides to having a physical office space versus a home office or virtual office. One is it provides you with a professional environment to bring clients in for meetings, brainstorming sessions and more. Another is a lesser known fact: many universities won’t accept internships from companies with home offices or virtual offices. Thus, if you have a home office but are in need of additional help from quality interns, you may not be eligible to get that top talent.

What’s your favorite get sh*t done quote?

Most coworking spaces are open 24/7. Whether you’re a weekend warrior startup founder still working a 9–5 job to pay the bills, a freelancer who works evenings, or just someone who enjoys sleeping in, a coworking space will be able to accommodate your schedule.

The future of work is one that’s both exciting and a little scary. Nonetheless, by becoming aware of the changes happening right now and the changes coming in the future, you’ll be better equipped to effectively navigate the landscape like a pro.

About Toolbox LA

We’re developing a rich community of startup founders, freelancers, and entrepreneurs within the largest innovation hub in southern California. By connecting our members with all the resources they need, from mentorship to 3D printers to cold brew coffee, we bring the best amenities to some of the best and brightest founders LA has to offer. Book a tour to learn more today.