The tech startup scene is changing quickly. Coming back to Bristol after eight months on maternity leave was quite an eye opener for me. Before I left in October 2017, pretty much every week I had a conversation with someone about the problem of lack of available office space. The most painful one was a shortage of ‘scale up’ spaces and how it affected quite a few companies graduating from SETsquared. Those companies had grown to 20+ people, outgrown our office and couldn’t commit to high upfront rents and a 5-year lease required by most landlords. They were forced to move to a more flexible, but also more expensive office as a temporary fix. For smaller startups, it was also an issue: we had a waiting list for our own offices in Engine Shed and hated turning people away.
What’s changed since last year?
Why was this such an issue? They could have continued working from home, garages, and coffee shops… after all the most established tech businesses started in their founders’ garage, right? There are so many benefits of co-locating that it should not be ignored, and instead be taken full advantage of.. Not only the cost of co-location is smaller than if you had taken on your own office, but you also get to be part of a bigger community of like minded entrepreneurs, helping each other informally.
A few months on, the property scene has changed – for the better. About a year ago a new co-working facility, Raw Space, launched in St. Andrew’s. Unit DX, the science incubator in St. Phillips, which launched early 2017 is expecting to fill up by the end of the year. Runway East is due to launch formally in September, but it is already 50% full. It feels like the whole city can sigh with relief thanks to this expansion of space to accommodate busy entrepreneurs in need of their own desk space.
Co-location and incubation – harmony for business
At SETsquared Bristol, we have the best of both worlds – co-location and incubation. We are supporting over 80 businesses, and about 15 of them are residential, co-locating on the second floor of Engine Shed. We notice that the residential members get many additional hidden benefits: all those informal chats taking place while waiting for the kettle to boil, getting advice, sharing recommendations, and expanding their network. When you meet someone on the corridor every day, it is far easier to build a trusted relationship with them and explore opportunities for collaboration.
Becky Sage, CEO of Interactive Scientific, mentioned: ‘Being based here has meant the whole team has had more direct access to support from SETsquared, including workshops and peer to peer events.’ We amplify that further by offering intensive business support to all our members to help them accelerate their growth through access to our Entrepreneurs in Residence, mentors, workshops calendar, as well as networking events and access to investors.
As with most things in life, the more you put into it, the more you get out, so how much you’ll get from co-locating really depends on how open and willing you are to having a chat with a stranger. Don’t be afraid to spark up a conversation next time, you never know what may come out of it.
Find out more about what SETsquared do here.