Over the past 3 years we’ve worked with some of the big boys (British Land, Derwent London, Hammerson, Islington Council, Ballymore, City of London etc) plus some lovely and amazing family firms. Family firms have been awesome to work with, as the decision making tends to rapid (once we’ve built up trust we’ve done future stuff just on a handshake without legals). Big firms by their nature have multiple layers, so it takes a little hand-holding, but to their credit they’ve also been awesome as they’ve opened doors for us to work with many other large property companies. We’re willing to jump through hoops for both.
Our primary focus is helping startups, we do this by helping developers with their empty sites pre-redevelopment. We pay their business rates and a fair amount of rent, we sign leases outside of the landlord tenant act and are easy to do business with. We usually end up being in their properties for 1-2 years whilst they obtain planning consent etc.
It’s a win-win, owners save of security costs/empty rates bills whilst earning rent, and also look good as they’re helping support startups (maybe one day these startups in the future will be major tenant of one of their spaces, so even potentially creating clients!).
It’s been a learning curve, one where we are definitely still learning. We have survived and have grown to occupy nearly 50,000 sq/ft of space.
Honesty is key – yes there were moments in our early years where we’re a couple of weeks late paying our rent, but we were always able to bring it up to date rapidly so although not perfect I’m proud of our history. It’s real, honest and after all, we are growing therefore have taken the growing pains and learning lessons in our stride along the way. If you’ve started and run a company, you’ll understand and we’ll be able to share some stories.
We haven’t taken on investment, none at all. We’ve bootstrapped since day one (we started with £1,500, we now turnover £1.5m) and I think that makes us solid. We understand value and what is genuinely achievable. So we’re not like WeWork or Second Home and don’t expect us to be like them. We don’t have buckets of cash to splash and we’re not shiny, new or anything like them. Actually, we’re quite proud of it. We base what we do on super lean growth – our focus and our heart has always been to remain as affordable as possible in order to help startups.
The planning process for major developments can take a lot of time, you obviously know that better than me.
Empty business rates are a significant cost, especially so in London. We know this because we pay nearly £500,000 a year in rates bills for the different buildings we rent.
Having property sit empty is expensive, especially if you’re paying for 24 hour security personnel on top of empty rates, as that can easily add an extra £10,000 per month to your costs.
- We like renting property, happy to look at what you’ve got available on a short-term basis, 6+ months for it to make financial sense to us (we’re happy to do this outside of the Landlord tenant act… I’ve signed so many stat decs that solicitors probably now think I’m a walking cash machine).
- Let us help you find someone to rent your property – see ministryofspace
- Let us protect your building…
- Either with live on-site guardians… or
- 24×7 cctv & motion sensors (see our clip recorded on Christmas day 2016).