Tech City Life: The big move

Flubit founder Bertie Stephens has had a very busy six months. In his latest column for Startups he fills us in on Flubit’s progress and the ups and downs of securing a new office space…

When I last gave you guys an update we were still celebrating our 2013 Web Summit win. Well, things have advanced somewhat since; we’ve gone from strength to strength from launching a partnership with Barclaycard’s bespoke offers to being featured in Forbes and being shortlisted for the National Business Awards’ New Business of the Year.

I’ll fill you in on each achievement in more detail over the next couple of posts, but for now I want to talk you through my experience of finding Flubit’s second ‘home’.

The triumphs briefly touched on above were not achieved by sheer luck – nope, we worked very hard to get to where we are now. Many team members (both newbies and seasoned old timers) spent many a late night/early morning beavering away meeting deadlines, preparing pitches, improving our technologies and experiences for customers and even unpacking the number of crates full of IT equipment (and other items we’d acquired) into our new offices.

Finding a new home

Which brings me on to the topic of this post – our new office space. Flubit has moved, moved on to a bigger and better (I hope) ‘home’. Finding a new office space brings a whole series of ups and downs, much like searching for a property to live in.

You spot one online, the price is reasonable (for London!), the area seems nice, respectable neighbours – you go along for a viewing, you love it, you want it – and BAM! It’s gone. The same cycle goes on a few times, maybe with a couple of variations; sometimes you don’t like the office, other times you love it and announce the space as your business’ new base, before something crops up and your commercial property bubble is burst. And so you continue searching, scouring the internet, looking at different places all over town and you start to get a just a little down in the dumps.

You see, this year we grew, we grew a LOT. We more than doubled. That’s a lot of people and a lot of stuff to fit in an office that seemed spacious when we were a team of 10. By the end of our time at our first office, we were pretty cramped. Plus our lease was coming to an end, so we wanted to find somewhere pretty sharpish.

Flubit new office

Flubit’s new headquarters

So what to consider when you embark on a move? Now I’m no commercial rental whizz, but here are some key pointers from my learning that might be useful…

  • Size matters

Sure, right now it seems you and your entire team will be rolling around, but make sure that any places you’re considering are big enough for both your current needs and foreseeable growth. Be realistic and don’t under or overestimate your true needs, unless you want to be moving again soon.

  • Location, location, location

Evaluate whether your desired patch of town, the space and type of building is a good fit for your business. Is it in line with your brand image? How are the transport links? What are the neighbours like? What impression will it give to visitors? Think carefully about how the area will support, or detract from where you want to get to.

  • Price

In most cases, there are additional costs to what you’re initially presented with, so make sure you’re completely aware of all the costs from the outset – these will include the rent, service charges, business rates, maintenance costs, insurance and the day-to-day running costs. It goes without saying, don’t overstretch yourself financially.

  • The lease

Committing to a commercial office lease is a legally binding agreement that will tie you into a contract for an agreed period, so before you sign on the dotted line ask yourself if this move is really going to enhance your business and enable you to be the profitable and productive business that I’m guessing you aim to be.

  • Don’t rush

Even if things start to get quite urgent, say you’ve got a looming ‘vacate the premises’ date like we did – don’t rush into a decision you’re not fully comfortable with. And if the lease negotiations don’t quite come out as you planned, be prepared to walk away. There are always other properties that will work for you, and you’d rather be temporarily ‘homeless’ for a short while than locked into something that’s not right for your business needs. Saying no is OK!

And for Flubit, OK, so there’s still boxes to be unpacked, frames to be hung and a Flubit logo sign to be fixed to the walls but we’re finally in our new office, enjoying the view of the river Thames and exploring the local lunch spots.

It seems we’re going to like it here.

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

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