Headspace: Flexible, London Based Work Spaces With A Community Aspect

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Headspace MD Jonny Rosenblatt explains how he discovered the need for flexible work spaces with a community approach & why the company's spaces will enable startups to succeed:

Describe the Headspace Group in 50 or less words.

We design, develop and manage uniquely designed flexible work and event spaces for the UK’s tech and creative communities. Our mission is to create inspiring, community spaces in which entrepreneurs and businesses can thrive and flourish with absolute flexibility.

What is your role and how did you get involved with?

I’m MD and founder of the business.

Headspace: London Based Work Spaces With A Community AspectWhat led you to opening community workspaces?

I was working in commercial property in London when I came up with the idea. I felt there was a lack of good-quality spaces for tech, creative and media companies. The choice was between serviced offices, which were lacking in personality, five to 10-year leases that created a burden of responsibility for the renter, or noisy (and often scruffy) co-working spaces. So, I looked around at what was missing in the UK market and what was working well in other countries – Headspace Group was born out of that.

Which technologies, industries or regions do you focus on?

Our members are tech, creative or media businesses and have included the likes of Buzzfeed, Eventbrite, The London School of Photography and That Lot. We know that our tenants like working (and socialising) within a community of like minded businesses, so we try to ensure that we have the right mix of people and will turn away some businesses that we don’t think are suitable. At the moment we have two London spaces however we have plans to expand across the UK, so watch this space!

Tell us a bit more about your opportunities – what can startups & individuals expect?

There’s a big emphasis on the community aspect of the spaces, so even though many of our members have their own private offices, we put a lot of effort into curating a range of social and business-orientated events for the community, from yoga classes to networking events and regular seminars. This means that our members are getting together on a regular basis, sharing ideas, meeting each other and, crucially, having fun!

One of our regular events is Talking Heads, where we invite interesting speakers from the business world to come and share their insights with the community. We’ve had a really interesting bunch of people getting involved in this, from leading entrepreneurs, to legal experts.

Where can they work from? Where do you provide office space?

We have two sites in London: Farringdon (9-21 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8BA) and Marylebone (3-6 Kenrick Place, Marylebone, London W1U 6HD) and we are preparing to launch a new space in one of the UK’s other major hubs for tech and creative businesses. Our Farringdon space is a Grade II listed building and is our largest. It’s home to 25 businesses, ranging from 1 to 60 strong teams, as well as a 1,000 square foot event space. Kenrick Place is a boutique space in W1, one of London’s most exclusive areas and a hub for the media, advertising and fashion worlds.

Why should a startup join Headspace?

We aim to create spaces that our members can be proud of. The aesthetic is bright, fresh and modern, and our interior design is probably more akin to a boutique hotel than your traditional office.

There’s also the community aspect of the space….

But perhaps more than anything, startups and scale-ups require the flexibility to expand and contract as and when it suits their business, rather than as and when dictated by a long term lease, and that’s exactly what we offer. Our members only have to commit to a 3 month arrangement with us. We also manage the day to day running of the space (internet; phone; etc.) so they can concentrate on running their business.

Headspace: London Based Work Spaces With A Community Aspect

What are the challenges your company faces?

When Headspace launched it was seen as disruptor – one of the early movers challenging the traditional commercial property market off the back of a change in property needs fuelled by the UK’s tech boom. The market has, however, quickly matured. We now see global providers such as WeWork being valued at around $15bn with more and more operators popping up every day. So, it’s more competitive and we need to ensure that the service we’re delivering to our members is second to none and we also need to shout even louder about the great work that we’re doing!

At the same time, we’ve grown ourselves, from a one man band to a team of people working across two sites, so we’ve had to ensure that we carefully manage this growth to avoid any growing pains and ensure that our core values remain.

What do you think makes a workspace successful?

For me, the best workspaces are those that place aesthetic, community and flexibility at the heart of their offering. For years, this ethos was the sole domain of the Silicon Valley tech giants such as Facebook and Google, however the flexible workspace movement we’ve seen gathering pace across the globe means that startups and scale ups can now take advantage of this trend and, in many ways, are leading the way in workplace trends. From using inspiring architecture and interior design, to fostering interaction between a tenant base that includes anyone from app designers to venture capitalists, these spaces understand the importance of having a working environment that is conducive to creativity, productivity and comfort.

What’s next for Headspace?

Since launching the business 3 years ago, we’ve tripled the size of our Farringdon HQ and launched a second site in Marylebone. We’ve certainly got plans to continue growing and a priority for us is expanding our footprint outside of London. There are some amazing hubs for tech and creative businesses across the country and there’s a huge government impetus to encouraging growth and innovation in these areas. I believe Headspace can play a key role in this growth and that will certainly be our focus in coming years.

If there is one thing you can wish for improving the European startup ecosystem, what would it be?

Despite there having been huge improvements in the past couple of years, there’s still a real shortage in good quality, flexible workspaces across the continent. A greater supply of these would give Europe’s startups the support and flexibility they need to succeed. Not only would they be able to avoid the shackles of a 5-year lease, but as a startup your connections are crucial. In London, our Tech City thrives on this very concept and having the opportunity to meet and collaborate with like minded businesses would, I believe, drive entrepreneurship.



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