We’ve rented space direct from the public sector on numerous occasions (offices, coffee shops & restaurants etc). We have loved learning whilst also generating significant income/cost reduction for local authorities and we’ve now put over £1.5m into the public sector coffers. As a team we’re quite proud of it! (just waiting for our Blue Peter badges).
We genuinely feel for council officers, the whole tender process is a challenge for everybody. Especially when it comes to property. We see property sitting empty for 6+ months whilst tender processes are correctly followed, when actually all we want to do is operate in the interim. We install super quick internet (at least 1gb symmetrical) and let people start, grow businesses and if needed teach them how to code.
We’re a very lean team. We’re lean for a reason as it has ensured that we’ve been one of the most affordable co-working spaces in London for the past 4 years (excluding Google Campus which is free to use but can be over crowded i.e. leave to go grab lunch and you might not have a seat when you get back). Therefore, it’s not that we don’t want to tender, it’s just that we don’t always have the capacity to pitch for the spaces. It depends on how recently we’ve just picked up an additional building elsewhere or what other projects the team are working on.
So we get a lot of requests from local authorities to pitch for space however I have to open and honest. We find it really hard to tender for public sector contracts as the paperwork can swallow us into the underworld when our focus is just to help startups. It’s very sad for us as we’d love to grow and help more startups whilst generating income and creating jobs to help council teams achieve public sector targets, but sometimes bureaucracy is a killer.
There have been instances where there have even been public sector tender processes for private sector spaces via s106 agreements. This bit I completely understand as it’s an element of the planning process that needs to be scrutinised. There have also been instances where the council have reached out to private sector landlords to offer their services to help them let their space. This in our view makes something already a challenge even more difficult.
We are always interested in new opportunities so please send stuff our way, we will review it (even if we don’t always tender).
Genuinely the best way to help us is just let us know which private sector buildings are going to potentially be redeveloped within the next 1 – 5+ years. Or which buildings have sat empty for a long period of time. This information is enough for us to make things happen and help people. We’ve done deals with the private sector in under 2 days from initial discussion and legals to obtaining keys for the building.