The increasing number of start-ups setting up shop in London is fuelling demand for workspace, particularly in Tech City where 15,000 new businesses were created in the last year alone.
By their very nature, start-ups are small often have a lack of resources, which can make moving into large permanent offices impractical and expensive. Say hello to co-working space.
Co-working spaces are hubs of entrepreneurial activity - often home to dozens of start-ups 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 start-ups in a way that the raw, soulless office blocks can't.
Co-working 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. Co-working spaces benefit from a collaborative environment, which allows start-ups 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 start-ups are desperate to find co-working 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 start-ups, 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 start-ups that have scaled rapidly under the roof of one particular co-working space in Tech City.
There are tens if not hundreds of co-working 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.
In a nutshell, it's a bit of a minefield out there and Techworld plans to get to grips with it.
Therefore, over the next few weeks, we're going to be reviewing a number of these spaces and find out exactly how each of them aims to help start-ups grow. We'll also be looking at how cost effective they are compared to each other and more traditional office spaces.
In order to do this, Techworld reporter Sam Shead will himself be working directly from the premises of these spaces so that he can get the first hand experience and hopefully meet several exciting companies in the process.
The first review will be on Techworld next week but several more should appear in the weeks after.