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CUAsia 2018 Workshop: CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS IN COWORKING

Last month, Claire flew overseas to attend and contribute to the annual Coworking Unconference Asia, this year held in Penang, Malaysia. Using the Coworking Canvas, she led a participatory workshop to identify key factors which will make or break your coworking business

 

The Introductions

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Amongst the 24-7 networking, learning and eating (Penang is famous for food!) Claire made time to lead an interactive workshop with over 40 practitioners from the coworking movement.

A coworking-business specific toolkit - the Coworking Canvas - was used to draw out and prioritise the experience and learning of both experts and newbies, as participants explored factors which would make or break a quality coworking business.

An group introduction allowed everyone to get to know each other and grasp the breadth and width of knowledge in the room. Participants could then identify who they could and should connect with, as the room was full of knowledge representing all stages of the coworking-business journey, from start-ups, experienced practitioners and researchers, to pioneers within the coworking movement. A great mix!

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Participants were split into six groups so the real work began. Each group was set the task to collectively brainstorm the features that would make or break a coworking space based on the key elements of the Coworking Canvas. Needless to say - there was a lot of ideas as well as noise generated!

 

The Coworking Canvas

The Coworking Canvas has been specifically designed by the team behind the Coworking Accelerator Network to provide a simple framework for articulating and developing a quality coworking business. This framework is based on over a decade of personal practical experience, plus research with coworking leaders from around the world listening to their ideas, aspirations, hopes and fears for the movement and growing industry.

Through this, we conclude that good quality coworking businesses incorporate three core values:

Coworking Canvas
  1. Belonging
  2. Nurturing and
  3. Place-making

There are six essential elements of delivery to build a successful coworking business:

  1. Co-location
  2. Network
  3. Peer Support
  4. Learning
  5. Hosting and
  6. Space

The Coworking Canvas can be used in a variety of ways to help you construct and adapt all of the essential elements of your quality coworking business model. 

 

The Results

Each group arrived at a long list of make/break features for their allocated element of the Coworking Canvas. Out of these long-lists, a short list of 'top priorities' were generated:

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With such breadth of knowledge in the room, it was no surprise that the discussion was lively and inspiring for all. Use this list to focus on your business - how well are you doing against the hit-list and action plan where could you do better?

Thank you to all who attended and hope to see you at CUAsia2019!

 

Stay connected, keep the conversation going and receive more tips and techniques for developing your coworking space: join CONNECT, our peer network offering free knowledge sharing and promotional opportunities for both established spaces and those in development.

 

Refreshing Beechworth

Old Beechworth Gaol has benefited from a one day, bespoke capacity building of staff development through EXPLORE Sense Check. They were provided with fresh perspectives and experience to spot new business opportunities, problem solve & prioritise an action plan.

 
"Thanks Claire for a great day yesterday – feeling absolutely energised and there really were some great ideas shared around the team."

– Clayton Neil, COO, Old Beechworth Gaol

 

Beechworth is a small rural town with a population of 4000, in NE Victoria, Australia, 3.5 hours form Melbourne. 

The Opportunity

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Beechworth has a growing local tourism economy because of its heritage architecture, natural beauty, colourful-history (gold, outlaws), food growing & production and vineyards. However most people rely on the nearby larger centres for employment opportunities. There is significant youth and young adult underemployment and unemployment as a result of the seasonal nature of tourism and its highly casualised employment needs. Many people are forced to leave the community in search of career opportunities and ACRE wants to address this issue by supporting entrepreneurship in Beechworth and attracting international tourists to the area.

The Local Leaders

The Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (a non-profit organisation) has secured the largest community asset buy-back in Australian history, raising $AUS2.7M to secure the town’s old gaol l which closed down in the mid 1990’s. ACRE see quality coworking as critical to the successful future activation of the Old Beechworth Gaol site - as a way to engage local businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as attract and retain young people, new people/families and new businesses to the region.

Why Quality Coworking is Needed Locally

  • To provide opportunities for incubation and acceleration of ideas
  • To connect others who may be working in isolation
  • To enable people to share skills and learn from each other
  • To help create and foster innovation in regional Victoria
  • To provide affordable resources  for people to make business / enterprise happen and therefor create jobs / livelihoods in the area

Vision

They aim to combine great lifestyle, cycling, community, food, wine, and beautiful landscapes with a great place to bring your business and grow a young family.

These extensive and highly unusual buildings and grounds will be home to a thriving multi-purpose hub to support local business and tourism activities, including 3 coworking spaces (shared services offices, kitchen and maker-spaces), visitor attractions (Ned Kelly - famous historical outlaw), indoor and outdoor retail spaces, events spaces and cafes.

Aims to be open by mid 2018

Progress made to date

  • Securing funding and investment to purchase the asset and resource some of the capacity required to work up more detailed implementation plans
  • Key stakeholder engagement – at local and regional level
  • Market research, feasibility study, business modelling, action planning
  • Engage external expertise to shape and make progress on their action plan

Key stumbling blocks

  • Gaining permissions / permits
  • Removing left-over infrastructure at the site to make areas usable/ habitable
  • Securing resources for the project management team to activate the site

How their vision has been ACCELERATED

EXPLORE Sense Check provided a day’s on-site capacity building in September 2017 bringing specialist knowledge and insight to the projects’ delivery team. Topics covered included:

  • What is ‘Quality Coworking’? How and why it works. Outlining key elements for success.
  • Site tour and advice on short/medium and long term opportunities.
  • Core products/services, space design for maximising yield and customer satisfaction (i.e. how much can they earn...?)
  • Understanding and defining their staffing model - who will be doing what to deliver this business? Critical experience, skills, qualities, aptitudes.
  • Planning the critical stages, activities and processes needed to open.
  • Post-opening, how do they actually deliver their services?
  • Marketing strategies, messages, methods, customer segment analysis and outreach. Attracting and retaining the right customers.
  • Identifying key risks and mitigation strategies.
  • Core concepts of quality coworking - using the Coworking Canvas for ongoing staff training and influencing stakeholders.

Outcomes

  • Clarity of direction
  • Identification of new business and income opportunities
  • Prioritisation of phased approach to starting multiple businesses
  • Clarity on where to / not to invest their reserves into the site’s development
  • Generate common language and understanding within the team, to better describe their core activities to stakeholders and potential customers
  • Revitalised energy and motivation of the team through start-up stage
  • Understanding of global trends in coworking

Next steps

  • Further leverage the Coworking Accelerator Network’s knowledge and experience in the development of a great quality coworking space at the Old Beechworth Gaol
  • Start earning unrestricted income from sales of easy-to-activate office spaces and provision of venue for events
  • Scale up delivery of the ‘Ned Kelly Experience’ visitor services
  • Activate a small scale café space for visitors
 

Learn more...

Stirring up Kirkcaldy

The founders of "The Mixer" in Kirkcaldy have benefitted from over 12 months of ongoing support and capacity building of their staff team. The Coworking Accelerator Network's EXPLORE Scoping Support services have provided them with guidance, knowledge and experience, and help in shaping their opportunities.

 
"We have undertaken a feasibility study and are developing a business plan with a view to developing a shared coworking space here in Kirkcaldy.
"In our opinion The Coworking Accelerator Network’s core values of belonging, nurturing and place-making can be an integral part of Kirkcaldy Town Centre’s regeneration process."

Bill Harvey - BID Coordinator, Kirkcaldy4All

 

The Opportunity

The coastal town of Kirkcaldy in Fife is some 30 miles NE of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city (population circa 50,000). In its heyday the town was famous for its mile-long high street, and seaside promenade. Like many small towns in the UK, over the last 40 years the town has lost its uniqueness and associated vibrancy, and is economically struggling with many empty retail properties, low industry, and inhabitants who commute to the city for work.

The Local Leaders

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Kirkcaldy4All is a non-profit company which runs the BID (Business Improvement District) for the town - though this is up for renewal in 2020. This established local economic development organisation has led many successful and innovative initiatives and works closely with Fife Council who are looking at funding the fit-out of a suitable property to take forward this new idea for the area. 

Why Quality Coworking is Needed Locally

  • For future activation of local entrepreneurs and small businesses, and a way to practically support and engage them to start and grow their business
  • Attracting foot-fall, spend and new business to the town and high street
  • Retain people (especially commuters) in the region and improve their quality of life

Vision

To bring a coworking space to Kirkcaldy which will become a hub for local entrepreneurs and businesses, complementing our overall aim to improve the trading environment of the Town Centre.

Aims

By 2020, to open 2,500 square feet of shared office (open plan) space located on the High Street above an already thriving retail cluster (coffee shop, quality butcher and ice cream parlour). Core services include:

  • hot-desks
  • fixed desks
  • virtual office services
  • venue hire

Progress made to date

  • Search and identification of suitable premises
  • Key stakeholder engagement and buy-in
  • Identification and securing of some business development resource
  • Market research and feasibility study showing interest and demand
  • Staff training on essential elements needed for delivery of the business model (through EXPLORE Quality Coworking Learning Event)
  • Site visits to other small coworking spaces

Key stumbling blocks

  • Losing out by £1k on securing a building at auction, and associated dip in motivation
  • Lack of resource within a small busy team

How their vision has been ACCELERATED

EXPLORE Scoping Support has provided Kirkcaldy4All with ongoing on-site and remote capacity building consultancy from early 2017 onwards, leveraging our knowledge and experience in the development of their own quality coworking business.

We have supported staff through the business exploration process – market research, feasibility study, business modelling and action planning – including:

  • Engagement with their critical stakeholders - to bring them on board
  • Informing market research activities and feasibility study assessment
  • Site visits of potential buildings and advice on suitability
  • Space and service design for maximising yield
  • Outlining key elements for success in their business model
  • Defining core products/services
  • Planning the critical stages, activities and processes needed to get open
  • Maintaining motivation and momentum
 
"We are excited at the prospect of bringing this new venture to fruition in the not too distant future."

– Bill Harvey - BID Coordinator, Kirkcaldy4All

 

Outcomes

  • Motivation of the team through their start-up stage
  • Clarity of opportunity, risks and rewards for their organisation
  • Prioritisation plan of approach
  • Generate common language and understanding within the team, to better describe their core activities to stakeholders and potential customers
  • Expedite appropriate market research
  • Understanding of global trends in coworking
  • Connection with other Scottish-based emerging leaders / place-makers

Next Steps

  • Business modelling and space design in proposed property
  • Planning for and securing resources for fit-out
  • Branding
  • Creating business plan
  • Marketing strategy
  • Marketing and recruitment
  • Staff training
  • Opening
 

Learn more...

Making Aberdeen the SPACE2b

The founders of Space2b have benefited from over 12 months of ongoing support and capacity building of their staff team through the Coworking Accelerator Network's EXPLORE Scoping SupportThey have benefitted from guidance, knowledge and experience, and support in shaping their business opportunities.

 
"From my perspective, being part of the Coworking Accelerator Network has been an amazing journey and a very worthwhile process."

- Karen Bain, CPD Manager, Space2b

 

The Opportunity

Aberdeen, also known as the Granite City, is the third most populated city in Scotland with an estimated population of 197,000 people. Traditional trades and manufacturing were taken over by the oil & gas industry in the 1970’s and Aberdeen became a thriving area for all types of businesses. This trend continued for many years as Aberdeen was the "European Capital for Oil & Gas," and as recently as 2012 was named a leading business hub by HSBC. 

However, since 2016 there has been a drastic downturn in the oil and gas industry with many redundancies and relocation of services taking place. This has obviously resulted in significant changes to Aberdeen and its economic climate, with the city seeing, for the first time, empty retail properties and many skilled professionals leaving the area.

The Local Leaders

 Karen Bain, Space2b, attended the EXPLORE Quality Coworking Learning Event (2017)

Karen Bain, Space2b, attended the EXPLORE Quality Coworking Learning Event (2017)

"Space2b" is part of the Aberdeen Day Project, which is a charity. The project also operates "The Bread Maker," a successful social enterprise, supporting adults with a learning disability to train and work in a busy bakery and café environment.

Over the past decade, The Bread Maker has proven itself to be thriving and industrious establishment. It has become the top choice for service users to receive training and placements in the catering industry, of which Aberdeen's local authority is a regular customer.

Aberdeen City Council is a keen advocate for social enterprise and for entrepreneurship and realise the need for it to foster inclusive growth, especially during the current economically challenging times for the city and wider area.

Why Quality Coworking is Needed Locally

  • To inspire local entrepreneurs, freelancers and start up organisations
  • To encourage sharing of ideas and skills in a supportive and productive environment
  • To encourage a sense of partnership working and comradery within the community
  • To give start-ups and small organisations the ability to develop and grow with reduced costs and risks
  • To keep people in the area and give it a vibrancy

Vision

The vision driving Space2b is for it to be a dynamic, community-orientated coworking space. It aims to be an attractive alternative to the typical office, serviced areas, home or coffee shop – offering a place to collaborate and concentrate with open-plan, quiet and private spaces to work or hold meetings in. It will provide a range of fully serviced coworking options – fixed desks, hot desks, private offices, virtual office facilities, ample meeting and events spaces and sufficient storage. Friendly, welcoming, operational and flexible, it will offer the social aspects of a shared space, a solution to isolation and an escape from the distractions of home - all at an affordable price for all business stages and types.

Aiming to be open in Spring 2018, with some "soft launch" events beforehand.

Progress made to date

  • Secured 60,000 square feet of open plan space situated close to the city centre on Riverside Drive – with good access to travel links
  • Key stakeholder engagement and buy-in
  • Market research and feasibility study complete, demonstrating interest and demand
  • Premises have been leased and furnished
  • Site visits to other small coworking spaces
  • Brand development and implementation
  • Design and production of marketing materials – currently in production
  • Web site brief created – site is currently under construction
  • IT company consulted to identify how to service our future clients, and systems are now operational
  • Engaged specialist consultants to assist the organisation to develop our quality coworking business as additional revenue generation for our parent charity and to further support our charitable aims
  • Small advisory group being established to create capacity

Key stumbling blocks

  • Capacity – inability to move far forward with project due to unexpected other business commitments meaning a lack of internal resource. Understanding who can help (not hinder) the initiative, and the skills needed for getting started, and recruiting those volunteers
  • Funding – funding streams and investment opportunities
  • Gauging the pricing of our services in a depressed market
  • Service design – what else could we do with the space, what can we offer, how can we be unique
  • Building the sales pipeline – understanding where to get the right clients from
  • Lack of relationships with key stakeholders and external organisations

How their vision has been ACCELERATED

Our EXPLORE Scoping Support has provided Space2b with ongoing, on-site and remote capacity building consultancy from early 2017 onwards, leveraging knowledge and experience in the development of their own coworking business. We have supported their staff through the business exploration process, including:

  • Defining core products and services in alignment with their vision
  • Planning of critical stages, activities and processes needed to get open
  • Site visit to leased premises for advice on space and service design for maximising yield
  • Financial model discussed and capacity modelling tool introduced to gauge potential income and expenditure
  • Personal introductions to local influential people and external organisations
 
"It can be a lonely place trying to start-up something new and hard to know which way to turn or who to ask. 
"The [Coworking Accelerator] team have managed to take some of the fear away, and set us on the right track making the experience an exciting one again. Their support and advice has been invaluable and it is always honest and instructive. 
"I feel more motivated and informed to be able to go ahead and open a quality coworking space, one which will have similar core values and the integrity to The Melting Pot."

– Karen Bain, CPD Manager, Space2b

 

Outcomes

  • Clarity of opportunity, risks and rewards for the organisation
  • Motivation of the team through the start-up phase
  • Understanding of global trends in coworking
  • Connection with other Scottish based emerging leaders/ place-makers
  • Connections to local influencers

Next steps

  • Finalise space design
  • Revise / finalise product offerings and pricing structure
  • Build team capacity – get more people on board who are willing and able to help
  • Funding – revisit and apply for appropriate start-up capital & revenue funds
  • Marketing plan and enquiry records – to attract and respond to our sales pipeline
  • Extend our relationships in the community – to get referrals and leads
  • Website –implement and add ‘buy-now’ functionality for our services
  • Social media campaign – to be started
  • Open for business
 

Learn more...

Helping Forres Grow

Forres Area Community Trust have benefited from Coworking Consultations and attendance on EXPLORE Quality Coworking – a specialist capacity building course providing structured guidance, knowledge and experience for leaders of emerging quality coworking businesses.

 
The support we have received from Claire and her team over the last two years has enabled us to develop and consolidate our ideas around coworking into our plans for our move into Forres Town Hall.

– Debbie Herron, Development Manager, Forres Area Community Trust (FACT)

 

Forres area is based within Moray on the northeast coast of Scotland. It has a population of c 15,000. This traditional Scottish rural town has a very diverse community with many people moving here to enjoy the mild climate, relaxed pace of life and opportunities for development.

The Opportunity

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There is a vibrant social enterprise scene, award winning locations, businesses and charities, with over 200 groups that range in size from small charities with one or two employees, scaling upwards to include the internationally renowned Findhorn Foundation which has over 100 employees servicing the spiritual community/ecovillage/learning centre.

The Local Leaders

Forres Area Community Trust is a Development Trust with long term plans to make the Forres area a better place to live, work and visit. Formed in September 2011 to benefit the community of the Forres Academy catchment area, the organisation is led and managed by a volunteer board of 9 local people. Started in 2011 they now have a thriving membership of over 280 local people.  They work in partnership with a range of local agencies and organisations to deliver projects and services to benefit the community. 

During a recent community consultation it was clearly identified that there was a need to increase the resilience of the town centre, improve services for social enterprise and increase accessibility to facilities such as meeting rooms, administration, venues and affordable work-based accommodation.

Why Quality Coworking is Needed Locally

  • For future activation of local entrepreneurs and small businesses (for and non-profit)
  • To provide practical support to enable people to start and grow their business
  • To attract foot-fall, spend and new business to the town and high street
  • To retain people (especially commuters to Inverness) in the region and improve their quality of life
  • To provide a diverse range of services that attract both existing and potential customers and further FACTs work in the area
  • To encourage people to work collaboratively for the benefit of themselves and the area

Vision

FACT’s mission is to “Create a better place to live, work and visit”. With this in mind, they are working to revitalise the local Town Hall to become a centre for social enterprise, creatively using the space available in the most practical way.

They envisage a shared office-type open plan space located on the High Street within the existing Victorian Town Hall, with an aim to be open by 2019. Core services will include:

  • hot-desks
  • fixed desks
  • virtual office services
  • venue hire
  • social enterprise business support and advice

Progress made to date

  • Search and identification of suitable premises
  • Key stakeholder engagement and buy-in
  • Market research and feasibility study showing interest and demand
  • Surveys, outline designs and business plan completed to enable funding to be sought
  • Identification and securing of some business development resource (3 years funding from the Big Lottery Scotland)
  • Staff training on essential elements needed for delivery of the business model (through the EXPLORE Quality Coworking Learning Event)
  • Site visits to other small coworking spaces  and social enterprise hubs across Scotland

Key stumbling blocks

  • The Community Asset Transfer system (designed to enable community organisations like theirs to acquire the building) is very lengthy and bureaucratic
  • Securing the necessary capital to refurbish the building and make it fit for purpose is complex. It involves an approach that includes a range of funding and investment sources, which will be a big step for their organisation

How their vision has been ACCELERATED

FACT has received a range of advice and 121 support since late 2015 through access to our EXPLORE Coworking Consultations and Two-day EXPLORE Quality Coworking Learning Event, specifically with regard to coworking and how this can be applied in a rural setting.  Although they are still in the process of forming a coworking hub, they have been able to undertake the following:

  • Market research activities and feasibility study assessment
  • Site visits of potential buildings and advice on suitability
  • Visits to other coworking business including The Melting Pot in Edinburgh
  • Attended essential training in developing the service, specifically to:
    • Outline key elements for success in the business model
    • Define our core products/services
    • Plan the critical stages, activities and processes needed to get open
 
The Explore Coworking Event in June last year [2017] was particularly useful as it enabled us to meet with other organisations that are following a similar path and learn from their experience too.

– Debbie Herron, Development Manager, Forres Area Community Trust (FACT)

 

Outcomes

  • Motivation of the team through the development of the idea
  • Clarity of opportunity, risks and rewards for their organisation
  • Prioritisation plan of approach
  • Generate common language and understanding within the team, to better describe their core activities to stakeholders and potential customers
  • Expedite appropriate market research
  • Connection with other Scottish-based emerging leaders / place-makers

Next steps

  • Business modelling and space design in proposed property
  • Planning for and securing resources for fit-out
  • Branding
  • Marketing strategy and plan
  • Plan and deliver a series of pop up events in the Town Hall to demonstrate the idea to potential clients
 

Learn more...

Sustaining Dunbar

The founders of Sustaining Dunbar have so far received over 12 months of ongoing support and capacity building of their staff team through our EXPLORE Scoping Support. They have been provided with guidance, knowledge and experience, and support in shaping their future opportunities.

 
"The Coworking Accelerator Network has been invaluable to the ongoing development of our project. Their specialist knowledge and real expertise has enabled us to progress faster and with significantly greater confidence than if we had been working alone. Claire’s incisive, 'no nonsense' approach has focused us again and again on what really matters if the venture is to succeed."

–Osbert Lancaster, Development Manager, Sustaining Dunbar

 

The town of Dunbar has a population of around 8,500 people, growing rapidly with a number of housing developments in the area. Many people work in Edinburgh, 28 miles to the west. Historically a fishing port, the town retains some tourism activity and larger local employers include Tarmac, a cement works; and Torness, a nuclear power station.

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The Opportunity

The town is mixed in terms of demographics with is a particularly wide range of people, housing and activities. There is a mix of professional and non-professional jobs, and part-time and self-employment are both important for a significant proportion of residents. Dunbar retains a clear and proud identity as an independent Scottish town, with a wide range of community groups.

The Local Leaders

Sustaining Dunbar is a Community Development Trust serving Dunbar, East Linton and several villages in the surrounding area. Since 2008 Sustaining Dunbar has been bringing people together to support new initiatives which create local jobs, help people cut their fuel bills and grow more food. Sustaining Dunbar also helps to get independent local projects up and running, and has helped establish Dunbar’s community bakery, East Lothian’s car club, and Miixer, a social enterprise diverting waste from landfill.

Drawing on a survey of 1,500 residents, in 2011 Sustaining Dunbar published a Local Resilience Action Plan, a draft vision and action plan for starting to build a resilient, low carbon community in Dunbar and the district up to 2025. Among other priorities, this identified the importance of creating workspace and developing the local economy. A part of this vision, Sustaining Dunbar is now undertaking market research and a feasibility study to explore the potential of a quality coworking space in Dunbar.

Why Quality Coworking is Needed Locally

  • To provide much needed workspace for new and existing small-to-medium enterprises, remote workers, social enterprises, artists and artisans
  • To connect and inspire users, so they can get to know interesting and useful people; discover local groups and activities; and be more involved locally
  • To enable users to develop their business or organisation: learn from those around them; find others to collaborate with; and get advice and support from specialist agencies
  • To help create a more vibrant High Street for the benefit of all local businesses and residents
  • To reduce the need to commute into Edinburgh, with benefits of personal wellbeing, family life and the environment.

Vision

Imagine a place in Dunbar or nearby, where startups, businesses, artists, social enterprises, artisans, community groups and others can work, connect and develop. We believe a place like this will help make Dunbar and the area a better place for everyone to live and work. It will help the people and organisations using the space to thrive. It will bring more life to the town, supporting other local businesses, and enabling more people to be involved in local groups and activities.

Aims

  • The objective is to create a mix of hot desking, private offices, meeting rooms and artists’ studios over three floors in the heart of Dunbar.
  • The aim is to be open by 2020 or 2021

Progress made to date

  • The search and identification of suitable premises
  • Visits to other coworking spaces
  • Key stakeholder engagement and buy-in
  • Initial results of market research and feasibility study showing interest and demand
  • Attendance at Coworking Europe conference to learn from international experience

Key stumbling blocks

  • Finding suitable premises and gathering required information in a timely manner

How their vision has been ACCELERATED

EXPLORE Scoping Support has supported Sustaining Dunbar from late 2017, bringing specialist knowledge and insight to the project. 

We have supported staff through the business exploration process: market research, feasibility study, business modelling, action planning, including:

  • Engagement with their critical stakeholders to bring them on board
  • Informing market research activities and feasibility study assessment
  • Site visits of potential buildings and advice on suitability
  • Space and service design for maximising yield
  • Outlining key elements for success in the business model
  • Defining core products and services
  • Planning the critical stages, activities and processes needed to develop a viable business

Outcomes

  • Confidence and motivation to the Sustaining Dunbar board as they start on this project which is fundamentally different from previous projects
  • Clarity of opportunity, risks and rewards for their organisation
  • Prioritisation plan of approach
  • Expedited appropriate market research
  • Enabled understanding of global trends in coworking
  • Connection with other Scottish-based emerging leaders and place-makers

Next Steps

  • Negotiating terms with the owner of the proposed property, including potentially undertaking a Community Asset Transfer
  • Completing the feasibility study and assessing the projects viability
  • Developing a detailed business plan
  • Raising grant and loan funding
  • Building wider support for the project in the area, within the general community as well as with potential users
 

Learn more...

Lighting up Linlithgow

The founders of EH49 Hub have benefited from our Coworking Consultation and attending our EXPLORE Quality Coworking 2-day learning event – a specialist capacity building course providing structured guidance, knowledge and experience for leaders of emerging quality coworking businesses.

 
"We very much appreciate being able to ‘hit the ground running’ leveraging the years of experience of the Coworking Accelerator Network team. We have created a real collaborative buzz in Linlithgow around the EH49 Hub, and we’re excited for the year ahead."

– Rebecca Holmes, LCDT Development Worker, EH49 Hub

 

Linlithgow is roughly 20 miles west of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city. It has a population of circa 13,500. The town is most famous as the site of Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots.

Linlithgow.jpg

The Opportunity

Linlithgow has benefitted from a long history of community engagement and involvement. More recently, as more commuters move to the town, it has lost some of its social identity. People who have lived in Linlithgow for many years, even for generations, are now living alongside people who have moved to the town to take advantage of its easy commuting links and excellent schools, changing the town’s social identity.

Linlithgow currently has:

  • An increasing number of empty retail units and struggling local businesses
  • A loss of knowledge and experience to Edinburgh and Glasgow as the majority of skilled workers commute out of town
  • An increasing number of home-workers, solo-entrepreneurs and new business start-ups
  • A wealth of knowledge and experience amongst its retired community
  • Over 150 active community groups full of socially conscious volunteers, all eager to help others

There is currently no central way of connecting all of the skills and knowledge above. Individuals are shouldering the burden of amenities and resources on their own whilst missing out on the benefits of interaction with others. Opportunities for support, for cross-fertilisation of knowledge and ideas, for collaboration and innovation are missed because there is no way of centrally connecting people.

The Local Leaders

The aim of Linlithgow Community Development Trust is ‘to make Linlithgow a better place to live and work, through a community led plan of action which provides services, amenities and/or financial support to local initiatives.’

The EH49 Hub project is key to the objectives of the Trust, and to outcomes of the Strengthening Communities Grant which currently employs two Development Workers for the Trust.

Why Quality Coworking is Needed Locally

  • To create opportunities for knowledge and skills transfer between community members
  • To support solo entrepreneurs and businesses to enable them to start and grow their enterprises
  • To foster youth by connecting them with local knowledge, experience and opportunities
  • To engage the retired community, using their knowledge and expertise
  • To reduce carbon footprint by reducing the number of commuters
  • To increase social cohesion in the local community by encouraging people to collaborate with, share and support each other, creating a new community identity

Vision

EH49 Hub aims to create an online and physical resource that connects local community and business people in order to bolster each other and create social change. To blur the lines between business and community, focussing instead on encouraging people to work smarter, together, supporting each other to mutually achieve. Their objective is to create space for:

  • Developing community and business connections
  • Growing local resilience and sustainability
  • Sharing resources and knowledge
  • Supporting enterprise and innovation

Aims

Linlithgow circle graph.jpg
  • An initial ‘pop-up’ coworking venue, reusing an empty café unit close to the train station. This is now open and operating two days per week
  • Once funding secured, open a larger, more permanent space on the High Street which will boast forty desks (some permanent desks, some hot-desks), at least three meeting rooms and one boardroom, a café, child-care facility, copy/print services, virtual office services, breakout areas and much more
  • Full facility to be open by August 2018, subject to funding

Progress made to date

  • Key business development and project management resource secured through Strengthening Communities Grant
  • Community consultation exercise establishing need, interest and demand
  • Online networks setup for both business and community groups
  • Initial ‘pop-up’ coworking events held in local community venue
  • Staff training on essential elements needed for delivery of the business model (through EXPLORE Quality Coworking Learning Event)
  • Space secured for regular, twice-weekly coworking sessions which started 8th January 2018 and is generating enough income to be self-sustaining
  • Marketing established – website, social media, magazine articles, etc.
  • Key stakeholder engagement and buy-in
  • ‘Community Cake’ events held for local community groups to collaborate and learn from each other
  • First business learning event held ‘Demystifying Finance for Small Business’
  • Search and identification of suitable premises for full-scale coworking space
  • Funding applications ongoing
  • Crowd funder set up and making good progress. This is to show community buy-in and generate funds
  • Site visits to other small coworking spaces

Key stumbling blocks

  • Accessing suitable start-up funding
  • Progressing at such a pace with minimal resource
  • Having to rebrand from "Space4" to "EH49 Hub"

How their vision has been ACCELERATED

The Coworking Accelerator Network's EXPLORE Scoping Support and 2-day Learning Event has provided Linlithgow Community Development Trust with ongoing capacity-building consultancy from early 2017 onwards, leveraging our knowledge and experience in the development of their own quality coworking business.

Our team has supported their staff through the business exploration process: market research, feasibility study, business modelling and action planning including:

  • Engagement with their critical stakeholders to bring them on board
  • Informing market research activities and feasibility study assessment
  • Outlining key elements for success in the business model
  • Defining core products/services
  • Planning the critical stages, activities and processes needed to open

 

"The Coworking Accelerator Network has helped to clarify our vision, focus on key steps to success, build a viable business model, choose a suitable building and engage with local stakeholders."

– Rebecca Holmes, EH49 Hub

Outcomes

  • Motivation of the team through their start-up stage
  • Clarity of opportunity, risks and rewards for their organisation
  • Prioritisation plan of approach
  • Generation of a common language and understanding within the team, to better describe their core activities to stakeholders and potential customers
  • Expediting appropriate market research
  • Understanding of global trends in coworking
  • Connection with other Scottish-based emerging leaders and place-makers
  • Identified other local social enterprises keen to partner with them – to open both the café element and the child-care facility

Next steps

  • Continue twice-weekly pop-up venue, learning events and collaboration opportunities
  • Secure start-up funding to open full-scale EH49 Hub
  • Implement ACCELERATE System to service our network and accelerate building the new coworking business
  • Employ marketing expertise to ‘shift gear’ for full-scale venture
  • Ongoing work with other social enterprises to include café and child care facilities in the space
 

Learn more...