We took a trip over to Clerkenwell recently and met with the lovely Rebecca Collins who was happy to share her knowledge about the world of coworking entrepreneurs through her experience working at Huckletree.
Huckletree is an innovation-oriented and community-driven shared workspace in London. It is the home of several high-growth startups, working on modern solutions to existing problems and using emerging technologies to rethink and recreate the world as we know it. They believe in supporting startups with the right working environment for coworking entrepreneurs, a strong infrastructure, important connections and beautiful workspaces.
SpareDesks: Hi Rebecca, thank you so much for meeting with us today.
Rebecca: Hi, it’s really good to see you again.
SpareDesks: So, Rebecca can you start by telling us a little about your role here at Huckletree?
Rebecca: Of course, I have been the Community and Marketing Manager here for the past three months.
SpareDesks: What brought you to Huckletree?
Rebecca: I met Gabriella (the founder) at an event during a monthly coworking breakfast. She asked a question that really impressed me because it showed that she was confident but knew that she didn’t have the answers to everything and wanted to get feedback on it. From that conversation I felt that she was a person that I’d really like to work with, and it carried on from there.
Coworking gives you the practicalities you need to be productive, combined with the community that inspires you and motivates you to do your best work.
SpareDesks: How long has Huckletree been open?
Rebecca: It was actually our first birthday on 1st May, so a little over a year.
SpareDesks: Do you know what the inspiration was for Gabriella to launch Huckletree?
Rebecca: Gaby was working in a New York coworking space about five years ago on some video post-production, and saw that there was a gap in the coworking market in London – she wanted to bring the feel and particularly the vibe that she had felt whilst working in New York back to the UK.
SpareDesks: Is there a Huckletree vibe?
Rebecca: Yes, there is. It’s built around our community of coworking entrepreneurs so it’s not necessarily a vibe or ethos we set. We do like to be an environment where people can be themselves, and where people are doing things differently. So I guess the underlying kind of vibe we have is innovation paired with productivity, and we have an air of curiosity in there as well. That’s why we’ve got the art on the walls, we like to create spaces that make people think and encourage creativity because we believe that’s the root of innovation.
SpareDesks: What sort of people do you have working here – do you specify?
Rebecca: We don’t specify but we do curate our community so when we have people come in for a tour, we speak to them to make sure that their personality will fit in with the space – most people’s personality will fit in with our space, we aren’t exclusive on that level but if we can offer them something, hopefully they can offer something to our community in return. At the moment we’re actually the UK base for a lot of international startups with a satellite office, we do have some great UK startups as well and quite a few agencies actually. This space is really convenient for web-design agencies, content and social media agencies because they work with startups a lot and startups need their help.
SpareDesks: In one sentence how would you explain coworking to someone who is totally new to the concept?
Rebecca: Coworking gives you the practicalities you need to be productive, combined with the community that inspires you and motivates you to do your best work. I guess my favourite saying would be that coworking creates the opportunities for serendipity.
SpareDesks: How do you think that Huckletree differs from other coworking spaces?
Rebecca: I think that a lot of it is to do with the actual design. We have lots of natural materials and plant life around so it does give you almost a raw feel that I think inspires creativity for a lot of people. For me it’s also that sense of curiosity, but the main differentiator is the people you have here. Every space will have its own personality just by the nature of the people who work there. Your experience of a space is so influenced by the people you talk to when you’re there.
SpareDesks: If you were talking to a startup business with no knowledge of coworking and you wanted to persuade them to come and work at Huckletree, how would you convince them?
Rebecca: You know those moments when you really start questioning what you’re doing, when you’re bashing your head against a wall thinking I don’t know how to get more users or I don’t know why this thing isn’t working? When you’re working so hard and you’re not sure whether it will ever work out, and motivation is just draining out of you. That is the moment that working in a coworking space can really make a difference. There are other situations where coworking can also be a great help – like the moments when you’re at home and have realized you’ve forgotten how to speak to humans. Those moments are ones where having a sense of community can help, but the ones where it can really make a difference are the ones where you’re on the verge of giving up and having the support of a community around you can be the difference between throwing the towel in or carrying on. Even if they’re not the ones who can solve the problem, just knowing the people around you will understand your problem is incredibly comforting and it gets you through those difficult moments. Benefits like coworking communities are also typically a great place to find an early adoptive community, a great place to get feedback because they’re people who understand the problem; they’re not necessarily in the same industry so they’re not seeing the same tunnel vision that you might be. So, you get the diversity but at the same time there is a common enough understanding of the industry so you can get a qualified opinion.
SpareDesks: What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Rebecca: Let me think. I would have to say curiousity, creativity, and thinking differently – can I have thinking differently as one word?
SpareDesks: And what about Huckletree, what 3 words would you use?
Rebecca: That’s much easier. Intimate, productive, and inspiring.
SpareDesks: Where do you hope to be in five years from now?
Rebecca: I really like being involved with the global coworking community, so I’d like to be more connected internationally – my aim is to help people to find a sense of community. So, at the moment I think coworking is a really interesting place to discover that. But I think probably it goes beyond coworking as well so I’d really like to be doing research to see how a community grows and how it influences people’s lives.
SpareDesks: And the same question about Huckletree?
Rebecca: I think Huckletree will expand in London. We have another site we will be opening hopefully at the end of this year/early next year. Possibly then a few more within London and the UK – it’s a matter of seeing where coworking expands to. I think for us as well our core purpose is creating environments that encourage productivity, innovation and curiosity. When we are expanding we will be going into bigger spaces so our biggest challenge (which is where I really enjoy being involved) is seeing how we can grow into a larger space with ten times the capacity but still keep a sense of intimacy that we have from here.