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...

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...