With recent talk of early-stage startups being squeezed out of the Old Street area of East London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ (or Tech City, to give it its UK government sanctioned name), it’s no surprise to see a new startup crop up to help other startups in the city find suitable office space. Spacious, founded by Tushar Agarwal and Tom Watson last November as part of the Entrepreneur First programme, is an online marketplace for startup office space, initially targeting companies in London.
It’s designed specifically to service startups, letting them browse available space by criteria that matters most to them, including things like nearby coffee shops and lunch spots, WiFi, meeting rooms, and — crucially — what other startups are housed in the same space. Equally important is that most contracts will be offered on a rolling monthly basis, requiring one month’s notice.
Intriguingly, Spacious also counts a third founder of sorts. Rohan Silva, ex-advisor to the British Prime Minister, and current Entrepreneur in Residence at Index Ventures, is the startup’s Chairman and I’m told will be helping shape strategy and ensure that Spacious supports as many entrepreneurs in London as possible to find homes for their businesses.
Silva, of course, has done more than most to shape London’s ‘Tech City’, ensuring the UK government’s policy (and PR) machine got behind the East London tech cluster — which makes his involvement in Spacious particularly noteworthy.
Calling itself a “commercial property marketplace”, Spacious’ platform connects startups with those who have space to rent out — professional landlords offering co-working spaces and serviced offices, to other burgeoning companies with space to share. Or to put it another way, it’s a classic online marketplace play, matching high demand with untapped capacity, with the least friction possible.
To that end, as well as doing the matching, the startup offers online contracts and payment, as well as making it free to list space. It only makes money if a successful match and lease is made — it takes 10% of the monthly rent for up to 12 months.
Competitors are potentially numerous, but essentially fall into three categories: Listings aggregators (Gumtree, Rightmove, and Zoopla), Serviced office brokers, and spare desk sites (NearDesk, and ShareDesk).
Spacious co-founder, Tushar Agarwal, tells TechCrunch:
For all small and medium sized businesses the search for office [space] begins online. Renting an office is an agonising experience; it’s inefficient, slow and painful. Our mission is to bring simplicity and transparency to this complex market to make renting office space easy.
Spacious is the only office rental platform in the world that lists all types of office space suitable for businesses (shared, co-working, standalone, serviced etc.) and wraps the entire transaction from beginning to end. This means Spacious is there to help businesses and office providers find each other quickly and efficiently and then take care of all the admin thereafter (payments, contracts etc.)
The company is currently bootstrapped but plans to raise seed funding this summer, and says it’s generating “significant” revenue — on track for £1m in annualised revenue by 2015, I’m told.