The days of working in anonymous Starbucks, or meetings in noisy coffee shops may be at an end, thanks to Scottish start-up New Bloc.
Created by high school friends, Michael Ford and Jordan Kay, NewBloc uses the founders experience in the hospitality and leisure industry to address the problem of affordable desk space for entrepreneurs and start-up companies.
At the start of 2017, the pair were discussing ideas for their own new venture. They started looking for office space which would not only allow them to run their own business, but rent out extra space to other start-ups.
The proliferation of hot-desking spaces and the prices being charged for city centre locations caused them to pause and consider the problem from another angle.
“Creating just one more office-based hot desking space seemed lazy,” says Ford. “Plus it can be incredibly capital intensive.
“We’ve both worked in the leisure sector, we knew that many businesses in the leisure and hospitality sectors have large amounts of empty space, which is very rarely used through the day or through the week.”
An idea was born. Now New Bloc’s first venue at The Refinery in Edinburgh’s prestigious St Andrews Square, is open for business.
“We thought that using space which is already designed, fitted out and decorated to the highest standards, but which is regularly empty during business hours, was a much smarter way to work,” says Ford. “They’re spaces which any business would be proud to use and offer a far calmer, more focused and more professional environment. We’re picking places with lots of power sockets, fast WiFi and – of course – unlimited, tea, coffee and refreshments.”
In addition to using some of the coolest venues in the city, New Bloc is also aiming to make its space affordable to every new company and entrepreneur. At the time of writing, desk space in The Refinery starts at an eye-wateringly reasonable £6 per day, or £53.10 per month (£503.10 for a full year). The company is even offering a week’s free trial to help companies get started, as well as discounts for teams.
The Refinery is even dog-friendly…
“We want to remove the barriers for entrepreneurs, for people starting their own business,” says Ford. “There’s no better way than working for yourself.”
New Bloc is now looking at expansion into other cities, including Glasgow, Manchester and London by early 2018, as well as partnering with companies and organisations to create business events at each of the venues. In addition, the company is also currently negotiating with venue partners to offer members additional benefits such as discounts on food.
“We’re working on a case-by-case basis,” says Ford. “We want to make sure we’re offering benefits to members that make sense for the venue as well.”