Hubble, a London-headquartered a startup founded in 2014 to ride the coattails of the trend towards flexible office space, has picked up £1.2 million in new funding. Leading the round is Firestartr, with participation by 500 Startups, Maxfield Capital, and Concrete. The latter is a ‘proptech’ fund backed by Seedcamp and Starwood Capital and for which Hubble is its first tech investment.
Founded by Tushar Agarwal (CEO), Tom Watson (CTO) and Rohan Silva (founder of Second Home, and former advisor to ex-British Prime Minister David Cameron), the company began life helping startups find spare office space. However, it has since expanded its platform to also serve the needs of traditional SMEs and larger corporates — and, I’m told, is seeing a huge uptick in companies wanting more flexibility since the result of the Brexit referendum.
More broadly, Agarwal tells me, Hubble’s growth is a reflection of how the commercial property market is shifting away from lengthy, multi-year office space leases to short term rentals with ‘out of the box’ features, and therefore less commitment or costs up front.
It’s also a change, he argues, that traditional property letting agents aren’t well-positioned to cope with and where technology is the only way to scale because of the increase in the sheer number of transactions, which also typically carry a lower basket price.
To that end, as it stands, Hubble operates an online marketplace that matches companies needing flexible office space with landlords and commercial space providers, such as the WeWorks of this world.
With today’s new capital, however — and to better serve its growing client base — the startup is building out its platform to act more like a “digital commercial property advisor” that will better use the data Hubble has and is accumulating to automate the office space search process in a more personal or bespoke way.
Adds Agarwal in a statement: “Hubble is the driving force behind a trend that is seeing traditional commercial property agents quickly becoming obsolete. As technology has enabled the number of freelancers and SMEs in the world to grow at an unprecedented rate, they are rapidly displacing Fortune 500 companies from the physical real estate they traditionally occupy – the bread and butter of traditional agents. The economics of the labour intensive model of property agents just don’t stack up with the future of work.”