TechHub’s Start-Ups Forge Strong Bonds

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Using TechHub’s office space has been transformational for Planvine, a start-up that aims to build the world’s largest distribution and advertising network for events. Planvine cut the time it needs to collect calendar info for its events site from four hours to four minutes by using the technology of another TechHub member-data extraction specialist Import.io  Then, TechHub introduced the company  to law firm Dorsey & Whitney. Plantvine hired the firm and their new lawyer introduced the company to its flagship customer, the Trinity Mirror Group,

That’s not all, co-founder Chris Crossley fell in love with Socialvine’s Laura Gill, another TechHub member, after being seated in the same pod in on the second floor of TechHub’s London Campus.

Elizabeth Varley, TechHub’s Ceo and co-founder, “thought it would be funny to put companies named Surevine and Planvine together,” says Gill, never suspecting that the lives of the entrepreneurs behind both would end up being intertwined.

Planevine’s story is just one example of how TechHub — a co-working space co-founded by Varley, an entrepreneur with a background in technology, content and events, and Techcrunch Europe Editor Mike Butcher — creates close ties amongst the entrepreneurs that pass a vetting process and pay a nominal fee to share office space.

The entrepreneurs let off steam at TechHub’s legendary parties, which have included everything from ice skating to whipped cream fights. During working hours they swap stories and share news, both good and bad, and figure out how to help each other. “The start-up culture is about everyone here always following their own dream,” says Gill.  Most come in to the office early in the morning and stay late into the night so it is no surprise that they develop some special bonds.  “We work for start-ups so we know what it is to feel like you are on a rollercoaster, moving from feeling like you are working on the best thing in the world to being massively deflated.”

The idea for TechHub developed after Butcher joined a community Varley was running for content professionals called Online Content UK and the two became friends. “We were catching up over lunch and I was talking about ideas to create a club-like community space for digital and creative professionals, and he’d been writing about how the UK and London didn’t have a real focal point for the startup community. From that, TechHub was born,” says Varley.

To recruit the first members the two talked to their contacts and reached out on Twitter. “Mike had been writing in TechCrunch about this idea of a focal point for the community, and lots of entrepreneurs responded that they really wanted a consistent community and a great workspace, recalls Varley. “Before we even had the property locked down, we opened up a limited number of TechHub Founder Memberships and were swamped! People really wanted to support the idea and get involved. It really was word of mouth from there, which is a great way to grow a community.”

Varley takes pride in TechHub’s role in helping stimulate the ecosystem. Today there is the Campus on Bonhill Street and over 50 incubators and accelerators in Tech City that offer office space and networking opportunities. But that wasn’t the case when TechHub opened in 2010. “I think TechHub really helped to grow the buzz around the talented entrepreneurs and innovative tech products being developed in London,” says Varley. “We brought together large tech companies with start-ups and we had government ministers come in to find out what it was really like being an entrepreneur in Britain today.”

“It’s been amazing to see the tech sector in London explode over the last few years,” says Varley. “We’re seeing more and more graduates deciding they’d rather start their own company than join a corporate, and that’s really exciting. “ The same is true in other parts of Europe, prompting TechHub to go global with its business.

European start-ups are moving away from products that appeal mostly to the tech community and “me too” products that are copies of other things. “We’re seeing an increasing number of start-ups aiming to really solve problems, whether that’s for large companies’ cost savings, for workers to be more effective, environment and sustainability, or consumer products like travel and health,” she says.

This swelling group of companies use TechHub as a launching pad. And for a lucky few, the co-working space has become a launching pad.

Planvine was recently accepted into Seedcamp on Campus’ fourth floor, raising 50,000 in capital in the process, while import.io, which had to moved out of campus into a bigger TechHub space several blocks away to accommodate its new hires, announced at the end of March that it has raised a 600,000 pound round.

Gill says it feels weird to no longer sit across from Crossley during the workday. But though Crossley has moved out of TechHub the two have moved into together. And the  advantage of being on Campus is that the two can still have lunch together at Central Working and if one has to stay late at the office the other understands that a start-up’s work is never done.

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