Instant Offices: Rob Hamilton
The founder of the Instant Offices group tells us how his company became the biggest in the sector
“Becoming the number one provider of business to all of our clients was the original aim. Now we’re in every market, globally.”
Rob Hamilton has wanted to own his own property business since day one. Knowing your market is what it’s all about: he says all his experience has been leading up to that one thing. After taking a degree in estate management and qualifying as a chartered surveyor, he moved on to become a property consultant and associate partner at property advisors Chapman Swabey.
And then he saw a gap in the market: Rob wanted to amalgamate the fragmented serviced offices sector into a single online marketplace. He founded the Instant Offices Group in May 1999, offering serviced office space worldwide, and hasn’t looked back since: “We didn’t come in to the market place with a new idea,” he admits, “but we took an existing service and we made it better.”
In terms of financing the venture, Rob was fortunate. He had to make some investments from the beginning but never had to seek out venture capital or arrange private equity finance. At first, the start-up was partially financed on credit cards and partially financed by angel investors – whom he sourced very easily: “I just went to my employer and three individuals and told them what I wanted to do. I asked if they wanted to come on board as angel investors: I gave them the terms and they accepted, and that was it.”
Instant Offices, which offers a market place for companies looking for serviced office space anywhere in the world, grew very quickly. Rob took on staff within the first six months, then as the venture grew, he added more people: “Over the last five years we’ve doubled in size every year. In terms of revenue and head count, our company has grown sizeably year-on-year.”
Rob says Instant Offices provides a truly global service, and staff really understand the market across the globe. Aimed at both start-up businesses and large corporates, he claims the service is suitable for everyone: “If you’re anything from Vodafone to a one man band, you can come onto our website and find the space you’re looking for.”
By the look of the figures, many people do indeed find the office space they want. Today, the company has a 70-strong workforce based in its London, Miami and Sydney offices, with representative offices in France, Germany, Japan and China. And in 2007, Instant Offices Group had a turnover of £10.5m, having grown by over 100% year-on-year since 2001. The projected turnover for 2008 is £23m.
Rob says he has every intention of building on Instant Office’s success: “We’re aiming by the end of next year to be turning over £50m: more than double where we are now.”