This is the first in a series of interviews Coherent will be doing with coworking spaces of all shapes and sizes across the UK. Hopefully they'll provide an insight into what it takes to run a successful coworking space, and give you a taste for the quirky, unique aspects of this incredibly creative industry
If you know a coworking space that we should interview, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @coherentcowork
This first interview is with Georgina Mallabar from Redbrick House in Bristol
Tell us a bit about bit about your background and your role at Redbrick House
My background is in finance, and my official title is Finance Director, however I take a very active role in the day-to-day running of our space Redbrick House. By far my favourite part of my role is meeting new members, understanding their needs and introducing them into our community. Ensuring that everyone is getting what they need out of our space.
What's the story behind Redbrick House - when and why did you launch?
Redbrick House is run by PAPER Arts, a social enterprise with the aim of supporting young creatives into meaningful employment. Last April, with the aid of Social investment we were able to purchase a building which we transformed into Redbrick House finally opening in July.
Redbrick House really serves 2 purposes for us. We are committed to the idea that work need not be just a means to pay the bills, and that with the right support and environment you can turn your passion into a profitable career. Creating a community of freelancers, entrepreneurs and start-up businesses doing just that provides a fantastic inspiration to the young people we work with.
And on the other hand, the income generated by the building can be channeled back into supporting those same young people. Providing internships and work experience opportunities as well as training courses and mentoring programs. Giving them the opportunity to generate an income from their talents.
What's unique about your space? What makes you stand out?
Being a Social Enterprise means that by joining Redbrick House not only are you gaining the personal and professional benefit of being part of a vibrant workspace, but you are also helping support the next generation of entrepreneurs and giving back to the community.
However, what I feel really makes us stand out is the emphasis we put on community and collaboration. What makes us different from other workspaces, is that we actively promote peer to peer learning. We believe that together we have all the answers, sharing opens up opportunities for us all to grow
What's some of the biggest challenges you've faced in running your space?
Understanding our market and knowing how to target those individuals. Prior to opening Redbrick House our audience was largely creative, however, we always knew that our target audience for this building was a lot broader and we were keen to attract an interesting variety of businesses and individuals.
This was completely new territory for us though, and it definitely took us longer than we expected to get the tone in promotional materials right and really understand what attracts different types of organisations/professionals.
What's Bristol like as a city to have a coworking space in?
Bristol is the perfect environment for a coworking space. It is a cultural hub teeming with inspiring and innovative individuals. It provides the perfect backdrop for those seeking an alternative way of working.
What kind of members are working in Redbrick House?
The nature of our organization means that we do attract those who are particularly creative-minded, but we also believe that being creative is not limited to artistic talent. Above all, our members buy into our ethos of a creative and collaborative community.
We take pride in the broad range of professionals we house, from designers to furniture makers, drone operators to media companies, and software developers to copy writers.
Our motto is ‘100 heads are greater than 1’ and the more varied the range of practices we house the more opportunities there will be for collaboration and growth.
What have you got planned for the future of Redbrick House?
Growing our community is still key to us and alongside that further developing our program of events, talks and networking to support our member’s development.
But our key plan is to integrate our work as a social enterprise with the expertise of our members. We hope to develop a program which will mutually support our members and the young people we work with by offering funded work experience. Giving young people the opportunity to gain invaluable experience working alongside the professionals in our building and members the benefit of having an employee to support their practice.
How is Coherent helping you to manage your space
The best thing about Coherent is that it completely automates the day-to day running of our space. Coherent takes care of the sign-up process, monthly billing, meeting room booking as well as tariff changes and cancellations. It means that members have a lot more control on their own tariff and bookings and frees us up to focus on moving the business forward.
One piece of advice for someone running a coworking space or thinking about launching one
There is already a large number of Co-Working spaces in Bristol, but for good reason as there is also a very high demand for this type of workspace. However, I think it is really important to have very clear your purpose and objective for you space. Not every space will suit every type of profession so it is definitely worth thinking about what your niche and who it will most benefit so it is then easier to attract those people.