Welcome to the third article in Tech City Spaces - a series taking a look at the various organisations aiming to help start-ups flourish in London. Previous spaces to feature in the series include Shoreditch-based Central Working and Farringdon-based Innovation Warehouse.
This week is all about Rainmaking Loft, which is a new not-for-profit co-working space next to London’s iconic Tower Bridge.
The space is already on target to reach capacity by Christmas, despite opening less than half a year ago.
The 10,000 square foot venue sits on the fringe of Tech City at St Katherine’s Docks and potentially offers start-ups a bit of a bargain.
Rainmaking Loft co-founder Oli Johnson told Techworld that start-ups were initially going to be charged £400 per person per month and that was just to help Rainmaking Loft break even.
However, thanks to Tesco, and several other sponsors, this is no longer the case.
The supermarket giant donated more than half of the £150,000 sponsorship money that has been awarded to Rainmaking Loft and this has enabled the co-working space to slash its prices to £299 per person per month - a figure that is much more in line with the fees of Central Working, Innovation Warehouse and others.
“They’re basically chucking money at it because it’s part of their entrepreneurial initiative,” said Johnson. “They are making this a possibility.”
Rainmaking Loft opened at the end of July and initially provided internet to residents through EE’s 4G dongles. Today it is home to over 80 people working across 20 businesses, including Eton College start-up, Edge.
The contemporary space sits within an old warehouse-style office building that has been recently renovated. Johnson explained that he hasn’t spent anywhere near as much on the interior of Rainmaking Loft compared somewhere like Central Working, which spent half a million pound kitting their place out with high-end furniture and expensive pieces of art.
“We were expecting to reach capacity before next Easter but I’d be very surprised if we’re not full by Christmas given the current rate of take up,” said Johnson, adding that he gets roughly 30 enquiries a week.
But, as the figures suggest, not everyone is permitted entry to Rainmaking Loft.
“Since the launch we’ve had a fair bit of interest,” said Johnson, admitting that he’s turned away more than 30 people because they weren’t quite right. “We need to make those kind of decisions now rather than polluting our membership pool. Some of them are the Regis-office type who live in South Ken and take the District Line in here and just want to be around the cool people for very cheap rent. They’re the easy nos.”
Rainmaking Loft has been set up by the Rainmaking Group, which aims to launch start ups, build them into businesses, and eventually exit them. It is an international partnership of serial entrepreneurs with offices in Berlin, London and Copenhagen and has created nearly 20 businesses across Europe since it was founded in 2006.
But the Rainmaking Loft co-working space marks the group’s first foray into the UK market.
“Their profile in the UK was non-existent until this,” said Johnson. “It started out as four guys in Denmark, each having their own start-ups in some way and their own different background. They thought on the one hand they could benefit from each other’s skills and then also they could have each other sense check their projects. They pulled a load of cash into one fund vehicle, which is the Rainmaking umbrella, and then started pitching each other ideas. If the idea stood up to scrutiny then the person could then pursue that opportunity.”
Whenever an idea is pursued by the group it is always done with an expert from the outside. “I’m that outside guy for them on this project,” said Johnson, before disappearing to play some ping pong. Obviously.