By their very nature, startups are small often have a lack of resources, which can make moving into large permanent offices impractical and expensive. Say hello to coworking spaces. See below for a handy map of some of the options available in London.
Map created by The Office Design Company
Coworking spaces are hubs of entrepreneurial activity – often home to dozens of startups from a wide range of backgrounds – and have cropped up as people being to realise that there is money to be made in providing somewhere that nurtures startups in a way that the raw, soulless office blocks can’t.
Coworking spaces typically come with the usual office necessities – a desk, internet connection, coffee machine, lavatory etc. – but they tend to charge small businesses based on the number of desks they use each month, which can be significantly less than buying/renting a property or an office space. Coworking spaces benefit from a collaborative environment, which allows startups to ask other businesses in their space for help and advice on everything from website design to PR.
The cheaper rates and collaborative benefits appear to be pulling in the punters.
Shoreditch Office Space is a company that aims to help start-ups find desks to work from in East London. Luke Francis, head of relationships at Shoreditch Office Space, told Techworld that startups are desperate to find coworking space in East London.
“Demand is huge for co-working space, and a large number of the providers are now looking for new buildings to expand into,” said Francis. “People are increasingly aware of the benefits that co-working space offers - notably the chance to be around like-minded individuals with a wide range of skill sets and interests.”
This means that relatively young startups, often with limited resources, can gain access to people who can help develop their business without having to pay for their services, according to Francis. “We hear countless stories of people who have been able to offer their own expertise in return assistance in other areas,” he explained.
Fast-growing companies such as the Angry Birds-creator, Rovio, and cloud communications platform, Twilio, are just two startups that have scaled rapidly under the roof of one particular coworking space in Tech City.
There are hundreds of coworking spaces in London but many of these could do with a lick of paint and a furniture upgrade. In essence, they’re not the type of place you’d want to run your company from.
However, there are several spaces that have managed to separate themselves from this crowded market by creating a USP and offering more than just a desk.
Some spaces only let in companies within a certain sector and position themselves as a hotbed or incubator for that particular niche, for example, advertising, finance or media. Others consider themselves to be more like a private members club for businesses. Some even ask for a chunk of equity in return for entry and tend to refer to themselves as accelerators.