A year ago, architectural, planning and landscape firm ENCLAVE Planning Landscape Architecture started a new business by renting out office space in downtown Shanghai. The idea caught on, and within a year of renovating a warehouse in the fashionable Jiangan district, business was booming at the Ankenwarehouse. This is one of these reasons why ENCLAVE was nominated for two awards - the ANZ Business Excellence Award and the Business Entrepreneurial Award. Fifth-generation Australian Alexandra Chu collaborated with partner David Sanroman to start ENCLAVE in 2005 as a design practice. A year later, they decided to start another business providing office space. Ms Chu said she hadn't expected her company to be selected. 'This is the first time we have been nominated. Someone from ENCLAVE asked us to put in our application and we did it just one day before the deadline,' she said. 'We have gone outside our typical scope and we have another business, which rents office space to start-up businesses. We've renovated a warehouse and we rent by the desk. It's still running under the umbrella of ENCLAVE. It's like a serviced office, except it's a renovated warehouse and we rent by the table. 'I think that's why we were nominated for two awards because we started Ankenwarehouse in addition to our design business. It's going really well. We have 70 tenants. The office is about 1,100 square metres and can probably fit around 100 desks. Some of the people who use our office are start-ups, and some are companies who have sent one or two people to China just to explore. Others are freelancers. We probably have more foreigners, although we have more Chinese businessmen coming in now.' Renting office space at Ankenwarehouse is relatively cheap compared to typical offices in Shanghai. 'It's centrally located and it's a benefit to people because it's cheap, which comes in handy because obviously when you start a business you don't have a lot of cash,' said Ms Chu. When ENCLAVE began its design business, it used a renovated warehouse, but the company felt it had too much space and decided to sub-let the office space to get additional income. '[Sub-letting] became pretty popular, so we decided to do this stand-alone business and see how it went. It wasn't difficult finding another warehouse,' she said. Although finding warehouses wasn't a problem, financing was, as Ms Chu discovered. She said her company had to come up with its own cash and two other partners to help fund the new business. But the investment quickly reaped rewards, and ENCLAVE is considering opening other offices soon. 'Renting out office space is not our core business, but there's more growth potential in renting,' said Ms Chu, a qualified architect originally from Melbourne. 'We are probably a bit different from other businesses because we started from scratch in China. Many other companies come here with backing from businesses back home. We cannot compete on price or time or the speed of doing things because the mainland companies do that for cheaper and quicker. But we can compete on quality, and that's what we are focusing on.'