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Sociable Surveyors Reconvene At U.S. Coworking Firm

Convene's Sebastian Abigail and Elliott Sparsis

If you are under the age of 35 and work in UK property, the chances are you have probably been to a Sociable Surveyors event. Now, the founders of the popular internship and events programme are back working together again at a U.S. coworking firm that is growing fast in London.

Convene has hired Sebastian Abigail as a vice president for business development, with a focus on liaising with brokers and potential tenants of Convene’s coworking, meeting and events spaces in London. Abigail joins from PropTech firm VTS.

The move sees him link up again with Elliott Sparsis, who was hired by Convene in 2018 from Blackstone to lead the firm’s UK business, alongside former Gensler design strategist James Frankis.

Abigail and Sparsis met at Kingston University, and set up the Sociable Surveyors programme in 2009. It hosted events specifically for younger members of the property industry and had an internship programme which saw more than 150 candidates undertake placements with firms across the world. The organisation ran for seven years and raised more than £40K for Landaid, the charitable organisation of the UK commercial property industry.

Convene is looking to expand its business, having recently secured a $150M debt facility from investment banks Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

London is its first international market. Earlier this year it agreed its first deal, taking 100K SF at 22 Bishopsgate in the City. It is in talks to take nearly 70K SF at nearby 80Fen, according to Estates Gazette. Both schemes are under construction. It is also in negotiations for space at two West End schemes and another in Midtown.

“We’re in expansion mode, and we have a different focus to others in the market, where we look to partner with landlords,” Abigail said. “My role involves talking to the tenant community and brokers and getting them to understand what we can offer to our clients.
“We often take space in buildings early in the development phase; this enables landlords to offer even more building amenities to attract occupiers during competitive marketing campaigns. It also means we help new occupiers in the same building get more value from their space by using our shared infrastructure and amenities spaces. Occupiers can also avoid spending fortunes building out big boardrooms or commercial kitchens that sit on their balance sheets and don’t get used efficiently.”

Sparsis said the firm is focusing on securing client companies with between 20 and 100 people.

“We recently secured a new debt facility, and we’re recruiting throughout the business,” Sparsis said. “The business is expanding and moving in a strong direction, which maybe defies what might be going on at other firms in the sector. We see a gap in the market for our product, in that we provide a HQ offering where companies can have their own identity and be proud to bring their clients.”
On joining back up with his old partner, Abigail said: “We both started out working together, then Elliott went down the private equity route, I started in agency and more recently was at VTS, another innovative company in real estate. A decade on, it’s great to be working together again.”