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Desk Union: Victoria Arnold

The serial entrepreneur talks to Startups about how the idea for her work space rental marketplace was borne from her own need

Name: Victoria Arnold
Age: 28
Company: Desk Union
Staff numbers: 2
Location: Glasgow
Date launched: 01/01/2013
Website: www.deskunion.co.uk

Tell us what your business does:

Desk Union offers a new way of renting work space. The site matches startups and microbusinesses with companies who have spare desk space or workspace.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

It was born from my own need. I was part of a business incubator with my second business, homestayfriend, where I had free space for 12 months. Around six months in I started to think, “What happens next? Where do we go?” I recognised an opportunity to provide flexible and affordable workspace by partnering with private businesses that have extra capacity. Many businesses have downsized with the economy and have space lying empty.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Because I needed it along with the 50 other businesses at the incubator.

What were you doing before starting up?

I was working as a marketing coordinator at a local University. I left my full-time job in September.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes – I was just looking for the right opportunity. I have dabbled with a few business ideas in the past but Desk Union seems to have the right mix of demand and scalability to make it worth pursuing.

How did you raise the money?

Desk Union is revenue generating from the start so no real need to raise a lot of initial capital. It’s more about proving the model at this stage. I’m just about to take on my first seed investment though which is extremely exciting! I met this investor at a pitching evening.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

My biggest challenge is time. It’s very tough being a solo founder and finding the time to do everything you need to. But I have taken on two interns who help tremendously to complete tasks and small projects for me. It’s also great experience to learn how you manage a team.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Essentially, we provide a multi-sided platform connecting landlords and tenants. We make money by taking a commission from every workspace rental per month, much like a letting agent.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Getting our first paying tenant. It’s that moment of market validation that we all pray for!

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Work hard and network harder! My best opportunities have come through networking with people. It’s imperative to the success of your business.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Global – Desk Union is completely scalable and I intend to grow it with global ambition! You need to dream big right?!

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