How Two Entrepreneurs Are Transforming Co-Working Spaces Into Genuine Creative Hubs
The benefits of co-working go beyond low costs and central locations. It turns out that much of co-working is about the community—the connections and the bracing feeling of being surrounded by like-minded, ambitious people all working to fulfill their dreams. Bisnow talked with two entrepreneurs about what inspired them to launch co-working spaces and where they can go from here.
Back in October 2015, serial entrepreneurs Neil Johnston and Ben Ward met to chat about starting a co-working space. Less than 12 months later, the duo have a custom-built facility, Rocketdesk, that can house up to 50 businesses in a beautiful office in Surrey Research Park. Rocketdesk has been very popular among the gaming set, and Neil says it quickly found interest in Guildford, an area with great legacy with game developers.
But the company doesn’t just service joystick jockies and their ilk. Artists, web developers, digital content editors, architects and video editors are all renting desks at Rocketdesk. The demand has been so great that the company quadrupled its space just six months after opening its doors. And Neil and Ben continue to field enquiries every week.
So what exactly is the appeal of a community workspace? Neil reckons that people love community. They love getting out of their bedrooms and home offices and interacting with like-minded individuals. Plus, co-working has all the perks of a traditional office—parking, a great and accessible location, dedicated meeting rooms, ultra-fast broadband, serviced areas.
All entrepreneurs and startups should look to co-working as the perfect ground for growth, Neil says—it’s great for productivity and collaboration.
As for the future, Neil says he’s only been doing this a year, and it’s not even his full-time job. He runs “a few” music companies focused on producing music and the global music education sector. Ben and his team are growing and working on an exciting new console game that is showing very promising signs. So, Neil says, he and Ben will have to see where all these different adventures take them.
Huckletree founder/CEO Gabriela Hersham agrees community is a big draw for entrepreneurs and young startups. Launching your own venture can be lonely if you're tucked away in a home office with no one to bounce ideas off. Huckletree counters that by offering an inspiring and supportive ecosystem to grow in, Gabriela says. Collaboration and making constant, meaningful introductions between members and to potential clients, investors and mentors is part of the ethos of Huckletree, which Gabriela says thinks of its communities as complete ecosystems built upon engaged communities of people looking to learn, grow and constantly be inspired.
Gabriela’s dream was to create a space that could challenge Facebook or Google’s offices—a place with exciting people, constant well-being opportunities and convenience.
Gabriela recently expanded from her original Clerkenwell location to Shoreditch, where she focuses on tech companies. She notes that Millennials are interconnected, expect to be able to have whatever they want whenever they want it and are obsessed with self-improvement. Huckletree aims to serve that.