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...