Coworking spaces don’t come much more eclectic than this
East London has seen a massive regeneration in the past few years and one of the coolest things is how people are using space that everyone forgot about.
We caught up with Amy at Bathtub2Boardroom who has converted a disused church and old Arctic Monkeys (& Noah the Whale) recording studio in East London into an inspiring space to help young startups grow. Current and former companies include Escape the City, Mopp and Fab Lab London.
What are the tips you’d give to people who are about to move into a new, maybe their first office?
Get involved. Treat it like an awesome networking opportunity. Know what you have to contribute and you’ll find that people are hugely generous in return with their skills and time.
It’s intimidating but power through. Be confident, you’re already doing an amazing thing by making this move to start up or work in a start-up and you’re only going to be surrounded by a bunch of people in the same boat.
“…you’re already doing an amazing thing by making this move to start up or work in a startup and you’re only going to be surrounded by a bunch of people in the same boat.”
Amy, who were the first people to rent a space at Bathtub 2 Boardroom?
The founders of Escape the City were in the pilot Bathtub so it is great to be working with them in partnership to help educate budding entrepreneurs. We have a policy of allowing our members to stay with us for two years before making space for younger startups so we’ve already “hatched” many great businesses into the big wide world, including the online cleaning business Mopp who were acquired by Handy; who had to move on when they grew too big!
We’re still a fledgling start-up ourselves so we’ve been through the full journey together with our members. Fab Lab London, another charity start-up, were looking for a home last year so we were thrilled to be able to offer them space to join us as a maker-space partner. Having partners who understand your needs, are in the same boat and can still be objective is priceless. It’s the sharing of resources, communities, networks and ideas that are so important to small businesses. And that’s exactly why we’re doing what we are. To give that to others.
“It’s the sharing of resources, communities, networks and ideas that are so important to small businesses. And that’s exactly why we’re doing what we are. To give that to others.”
Let’s get philosophical! How do you create a community?
Well, before we take all the credit, we’re simply a facilitator of a self-evolving community!
The community is not just our members and partners either, for we have a thriving group of experienced entrepreneur mentors who share their time freely with the start-ups and are regulars in the space.
We just do everything we can – we work alongside the start-ups, we talk to them whilst the kettle boils and while making and sharing lunch, we take the time to ask them what they love and what they’d love to have. We’re making a conscious effort to make sure each and every member knows the extent of expert support they have access to and the diverse community they’re a part of. Being an entrepreneur is tough enough, we’re there to share the journey.
“Being an entrepreneur is tough enough, we’re there to share the journey.”
What’s your perfect office break?
A nice strong brew chatting with someone new!
The motivation for Bathtub comes from enabling people from all backgrounds and sectors to start and grow sustainable businesses. Opening up opportunities of connections, mentoring, funding and advice that wouldn’t normally be accessible.
What’s the story behind the space? What did it first look like, and how did it change?
We now have 2 Bathtubs and they’re both wonderfully unique in history and features.
The Bethnal Green Bathtub was a former Methodist chapel church and used as a recording studio for the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Noah and the Whale in a past life!
When we took it over it was a blank canvas so we did what anybody would; roped in loads of friends for a day with the help of free pizza and beer! We transformed a blank space into a home for ambitious start-ups in less than 24 hours… and made a video!
Our founders, Fred and Ed, were very well familiar with the startup world and when they were offered space in an empty new building in Kings Cross (as part of a rates-saving exercise for the landlord), they immediately jumped on it. Fred and Ed then figured that establishing a charity could provide space and support for other start-ups (once the landlord needed his shiny new building back for paying tenants), they set up a charity model of incubators.
Our City space is a vast, six floor Grade II listed building right in the heart of the City Square Mile which we opened in February 2014. Later that year we invited our partners Escape the City with their Escape School and Fab Lab London to create 1 Frederick’s Place. It’s everything a start-up could want under one roof – a co-working space with 70 amazing start-ups, an innovative maker space and a whole host of inspiring events to help you escape to your dream life.
“When we took it over it was a blank canvas so we did what anybody would; roped in loads of friends for a day with the help of free pizza and beer! We transformed a blank space into a home for ambitious start-ups in less than 24 hours…”
How do you find tenants and how do they find you?
Anything from desk space sites like Hubble to Bathtub start-up or alumni spreading the Tub love to people they meet!
What are main issues in finding or letting a space?
Standing out amongst others is increasingly more and more challenging – the market is really busy! On the listing sites it’s very difficult to retain the visibility of a fresh ad, but then you’ll never appeal to everybody.
The important thing is understanding how people are finding you and why they’re choosing you over everyone else. Keep on top of that and you can focus your efforts to the channels delivering the most value to your space.
“The important thing is understanding how people are finding you and why they’re choosing you over everyone else. Keep on top of that and you can focus your efforts to the channels delivering the most value to your space.”
What’s the best thing that happened since you started running Bathtub 2 Boardroom?
Great question! Next week Feb 4th, we’re celebrating our first anniversary of moving into 1 Frederick’s Place. With thanks to a generous tenancy agreement with The Mercers’ Livery Company the opportunity arose for Bathtub to move into 1 Frederick’s Place, and so our second and biggest Tub was born with 18,000 sq ft of listed building. Getting the opportunity to build a community in such a prominent building in an awesome location has enabled us to expand very quickly and as a result we’ve gone from supporting 30 to 108 start-ups!
Entrepreneurs, if you have limited capital but unlimited potential, this one might be for you. Hubble it now!