Startup offices

We’ve just moved into a new office and it got me thinking how much things have changed since I last had to think about the best kind of places to work for startups in London.

The most notable trend is the blossoming of co-working spaces over the past five years. For early stage (at least pre-seed) startups they’re a great option because of the flexibility and the lack of hassle. Just a simple contract (you don’t have to worry about buying furniture or the bills) and then monthly payments depending on how much time you want to be there and how many desks you want. Couldn’t be easier and there’s also a lot of choice, particularly in East London. You can go for the kind of place that has the feel you like best whether that’s Shoreditch Works, TechHub, the Trampery, Bathtub to Boardroom or one of the Hubs.

Office space is also thrown in with many accelerator programmes and some are really good. We were very lucky with the 2012 cohort of BGV teams to have a floor of Google Campus in Shoreditch. Of the big tech companies Google are the kings of office design as far as I’m concerned. Over time you really noticed the little touches that made it work like getting the sight lines in and out of meeting rooms just right or having storage that gave people enough but didn’t allow junk to build up.

If I was a startup today and had a few choices I think I’d work out how good the office was for the following features in this order of importance (1 highest):

  1. Space to work individually — particularly to code
  2. Space to talk as a team
  3. Space to talk to customers, investors or other visitors — either on the phone or in person
  4. Space and opportunities to meet other startups

Some of those can be in the same actual bit of the office but you need to make sure that mixed use doesn’t cause problems.

The other thing to look for these days is who else is in the space or generally around. Are your ideal investors regular visitors? Are there other founders you look up to who drop by? If you want media coverage do journalists come and visit? Plenty of those are possible these days.

Thinking about it, the variety of office space options is another example of how things are much better than they used to be for startups in London. Let me know if you have other tips or things you think are ‘must haves’ for offices.

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