Flexible Working Fuels Startup Innovation

London is the ‘co-working capital of the world’ with the flexible working spaces that foster innovation and entrepreneurship across increasingly specialist subject areas. That’s according to panellists who spoke at last night’s London Tech Week panel ‘Co-working and the early stage start-up’.


The event took place at the Worker’s Cafe, a co-working space in Dalston, and was chaired by Sarah Friar, CFO of Square, the payments company for small businesses founded by Jack Dorsey. Earlier in the week, Friar met with government officials and Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street for a roundtable on tech investment in the UK, where they discussed how technology could be used to help entrepreneurs to start, run and grow their businesses.


At last night’s discussion she and the panel debated the merits of the capital as a place to set up a new enterprise. The discussion covered recent reports on co-working in the capital, which show there to be more co-working spaces in the London than any other city in the world*, with co-working in Central London taking a record 21% of all commercial office leases in the capital last year. London has cemented its position as the global leader for flexible workplaces. For example since 2012, flexible workplace leasing has represented an average of 2.9% of the market in Manhattan, compared to 10.6% in London**.


Resources in London have expanded over recent years, with co-working shifting from simple desk space to industry-specific work spaces across industries as diverse as data science, beauty and high-growth tech startups.


Friar was joined by two London business owners – Lacey Hunter Felton, Co-founder of Hunter Collective, a flexible co-working space for professionals in the beauty industry, and Dave Sylvester, Co-founder, The Workers’ Cafe, a hybrid cafe co-working space catering to the needs of freelancers. They spoke alongside technology journalist Shona Ghosh from Business Insider.


Lacey Hunter Felton, co-founder of Hunter Collective, said: “When we set up our business, applying the principle of co-working to a new industry was a risk. But with Hunter Collective we’ve created a community for stylists, barbers, hair stylists, makeup artist and nail experts right here in London that enables them to network and grow their businesses in a way that wasn’t possible in the past.”


Square CFO Sarah Friar said: “It is fantastic to be here for London Tech Week, where I have been meeting both business owners and government officials and exploring how Square can help bring education and empowerment to small businesses across the UK.


“The co-working boom brings opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to access affordable world-class office facilities, build networks, and meet like minded people. That – along with the great technologies available to help you grow your business – makes now a great time to take the leap and become your own boss.”  


The panel discussed the benefits of co-working spaces, the difficulties faced building a business in the capital and how technology can contribute to the growth and success of a small business. The panel also covered the following:

  • The number of worldwide co-working members is expected to rise to 3.8 million by 2020 and 5.1 million by 2022***
  • Shared workspaces have already grown at an incredible rate of 200% over the past five years****
  • WeWork and Spaces were responsible for more than half of the year’s take-up of co-working space across the UK**
  • 84% of people who use coworking spaces are more engaged and motivated with 89% of people who cowork reporting being happier***


The panel also discussed technology solutions that have made it easier than ever to set up and run a small business, such as Square. Both Hunter Collective and Workers Cafe featured in a recent TV advertising campaign for Square and use the platform for digital payments and analytics. Square builds products to make accepting cards simple, fast and affordable for small and medium-sized businesses, helping them with cash flow, one of the biggest concerns for small business owners.


The Square Reader is available to buy online or in-store for £39, and pairs with the free Point Of Sale app on your mobile phone or tablet. Once registered, businesses can start taking card payments straight away and get money the next business day. Those looking for a countertop solution can also buy Square Stand for the special price of £64 until 29 June 2018 (usual price £129), which includes the Square Reader and Dock.    


Small businesses who want to find out more about Square readers for their business can check out https://squareup.com/gb/.

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