Tech City Life: Attracting top talent with a prestigious location

Bertie Stephens asserts that if you forget about Old Street, you may as well forget about your tech start-up

At Flubit.com we create you a lower price on almost anything you’re about to buy. We’re trying to fulfil this impossible vision of making any product cheaper at the time you want it – we think it’s pretty cool. To achieve such a feat we look at numbers, metrics and more. We have pages of reports we download daily and compare to the previous weeks and months.

It goes without saying we run our business based on how the metrics and KPIs improve, or more importantly, when they don’t improve in certain areas.

When it came to choosing the office however, moving to Tech City, we didn’t look at anything along those lines. In fact, I think it’s a bit unfair on my co-founder to use the word “we” here – he found it, he got the contacts and I happily went along with the ride.

At the time, the walls of my living room were at tipping point. I had purchased some Dragon’s Den fangled sticky white board paper (which meant I could write on my walls without ruining them.)

I certainty didn’t have time to go hunting around London for an office space.

I received a call from Adel (co-founder) one day. It went something like this:

“Bertie, I’ve found us an office, we can move in within the fortnight. I’m going to look at it again now. Bye!”

At this time we had raised the first 50k seed funding. We had the plans to go and raise more but nothing was really on the cards. 50k was just about enough to get the project started… certainly not enough to afford a full on office that could fit 10+ people. I did let Adel know this fact.

“Don’t worry, we’ll get the money, let’s just do it. Take the risk”. He replied.

And that was that.

But it was the best decision. Because it made us take the move, take the risk and get started. A living room in Newbury is only suitable for a certain amount of time it turns out.

And why this office, this location? Because it was located in the same building as venture capital Sequoia’s first big UK investment: SongKick. Our location had prestige to it, so we would too (was the thought). It sounds crazy, but it was actually true, it reverberated well with people. It made sense.

So we signed a lease. To this day I don’t think we should tell the landlord we signed a lease when we could really only afford to pay a couple of months, but some how they went along with it. Hey, we’re a ‘crazy start-up’, right?

I do remember the first day we had the keys and walked in to the empty office space, I really panicked. Not only did we have a business to create and launch, but now we had an office to fill. That day I learned that the sight of an empty office really freaks me out.

But the point was we were ‘in’. We were now in a location where you could attract the top talent to come and work for you because you were located in the right place, with a proposition that was exciting. Adel, Ricardo and I had been assembling a core team of close colleagues and friends to work and advise us. Many of who are still with us today and drive the key cogs in Team Flubit.

This plan to build a team started to work perfectly. Because we were in Tech City we had the people around us, and willing to work with us too. For example, one of our first (not known to us) hires was a developer named Victor. Apart from being one of the most optimistic people I have ever met, he has since become a pivotal figurehead in our development team, building some of our core technologies. If we had been based in Newbury, or outside of TechCity, we may not have been lucky enough to find him, or have had the pleasure of his knowledge and insight to help build our team from day two.

For me it was exciting, we were now in a location where potential top team members like Victor would want to work, and we had the opportunity of bringing those on who shared our vision. And ‘bit by bit’ we started to build this team and create partnerships. And that’s where we’ll start next week, partnerships. 

Bertie Stephens is chief executive of demand-driven marketplace Flubit.com.

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