After becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of decent facilities for people working out and about, James decided to start Central Working. I spoke to James as he explains how it all came about.
The full interview is below.
Hi James, Thanks for doing this interview with me. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey?
Well I started out on my entrepreneurial journey as a kid growing up in Hull. My first venture was an egg delivery business, JayLay eggs, see what I did there! Yes it was an egg round, delivering double yokers to all an sundry in the local area. That got me hooked on the power of being your own boss. However I did not leap straight into my own venture on leaving university. I in fact started life working on Wonderbra, it was hell :) I went on to work on Absolut Vodka, Sony Playstation and then Virgin, where I was head hunted to become a marketing director.
It wasn’t until after Virgin that I once again had my own business, first with a marketing agency The Lounge Group, then Escape airports, Inside consultants and most recently Central Working. I’m really proud that all of my businesses are growing, and now employ quite a few people.
Tell me how the idea for Central Working came about?
I was frustrated at the lack of decent facilities for people working out and about. The age old adage, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is more pertinent today than ever. This issue cannot be solved virtually on LinkedIn, it’s about face to face connections. That is the magic of Central Working, we’re creating a network of passionate business people who come together to help you grow your business
Tell me more about Central Working?
At its heart Central Working is a members based coworking club. In the current economic climate, conditions are more challenging for SMEs than ever, who’s stepping up to help? I believe that there are endless opportunities to build the business you dream of - the problem is not just a lack of space, but a lack of resource and inspiration.
Central Working is addressing these issues head on by creating a contemporary co-working space with a membership of smart, passionate business people and a range of tools to help members fast track their businesses. We plan to help SMEs prosper by encouraging small businesses to be more than they can be on their own and, ultimately, fuel job creation.
How did you fund the business?
A combination of mortgaging the house, personal investment and angels
What are you trying to achieve with central working?
To boost the UK economy, by helping 10,000 SMEs grow over the next 10 years. We believe that the ideal working environment isn’t just about a co-working space, it’s about the people in the space and how you interact with them. At Central Working, we give our members the opportunity to connect and inspire
How many people are involved in the business?
All in about 10
What is your business model?
We offer membership to the club from as little as £25, meeting spaces from just £35, events space as well as learning programmes to help people grow their businesses.
What has been the hardest part of starting the business?
Finding the angel investors with the vision to see the potential.
What has been the most crucial things that you've done to grow the business?
We started the way we mean to go on. So we collaborated with over 500 potential members to develop the concept. They literally got hands on involved even down to picking the furniture. We are always listening to our membership and know that they are the key to growing our business
How do you keep the right balance within all your businesses?
Employ great management teams and great partners. They give you the freedom to be able to make a difference
What has been your most memorable moment so far on your entrepreneurial journey?
I think getting to open Central Working after an 18 month slog to raise the money in the middle of the recession
What plans do you have now to expand your business further?
We have just partnered up with a little know company, Google, to launch our second site in the heart of Tech City. We’re really excited about our partnership and know that we will both benefit.
What advices can you give to young entrepreneurs starting up?
Stop talking about it and get on with it. Evolve quickly, know that your original plan is not how its going to end up, don’t be afraid of this change. Join Central Working, we’re here to help!