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Interviews

Not just another fancy place in Mayfair.

When we sat down with Emma Phillips & Rachel Johnson, of venture capital firm LocalGlobe, they dismantled any pre-held stereotypes of what an investors office should look like. After having designed a vibrant, quirky space in North London, they shed some secrets into how a creative design approach can cultivate the best business growth.

Read time 7 minutes

LocalGlobe are a London based early-stage venture capital firm. They specialise in investing in young, tech-based companies (including eporta!)

This year, they completed the design of their first communal workspace for the companies they've invested in. This new North London base is where businesses can work, experiment, and most importantly, grow.

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As I sat down in this members co-working environment, my first thought was how different it was to your stereotypical investment firm. The ceilings replicate cotton cloudy skies, and a rainbow of bold, primary colours characterise the office chairs. Each meeting room boasts a small indoor 'jungle' and a bright yellow floor runs throughout.

Struck by the vibrancy of this design, my first question to Emma and Rachel was regarding their decision to foster such a bold approach. Emma, their Operations Partner, explained that, at the heart of this project, was LocalGlobe's desire to help accelerate tech start-ups. This meant being creative in their thinking about what young businesses need.

We didn't want to be the investors with a super fancy place in Mayfair, we wanted to have a space that people could easily walk into.

Office Manager, Rachel, elaborated further, stressing that they wanted to build a place in which young business founders felt relaxed. Somewhere they could "actually feel productive and have the chance to connect with like-minded people".

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Not only did they make it an apt location for founders, but also a great meeting point for their guests. The open multi-functional rooms throughout the space, offer the perfect space for members without offices to hold meetings, interviews, or entertain clients.

LocalGlobe also implemented a number of technical features to foster growth in the most efficient way possible.

"We're seeing more and more businesses starting to produce different types of media, such as podcasts and photography," noted Emma. "So we've built a dedicated podcast room and a photography studio at the back of the space," she explained.

We're trying to stay on top of what the new movements are within the tech world, and to make sure that we're at the forefront of providing the facilities for people that need them.

As well as considered tools to help accelerate businesses, they also carefully designated areas to help support the growth of the people in them. A wellness area was built at the back of the workspace, designed to help ensure that the mental stress of pressured entrepreneurs can be dealt with and managed effectively.

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Their desire to help their community dictated everything, even the choice of location. Kings Cross, where they are based, seemed like the ideal place for their workspace. Bustling with several new developments and businesses, and connected to all the best transport lines in London, it was the most accessible, relevant place for start-up tech firms.

With so much development in the area, the location also came with a few subsequent qualms. First of all, it made it more challenging to come by a space in the first place. As Rachel and Emma explain, it took them a year to find the right location and secure the lease.

When they did find the right place, it happened to be situated below four floors of residential flats. While this was no issue to LocalGlobe, with a twenty-year lease, they knew how critical it was that they built a positive relationship with the residents and community around them.

Anything we did, we had to make sure we got permission by from residents living above us.
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When planning the office, they ensured that residents had the ability to share their opinions, concerns and ideas. During the build, they made it easy for locals to get in touch regarding any disturbance. And finally, when the space was finished, they invited their new neighbours in.

They hosted an event and explained the purpose of the space and who residents could expect to see there on a day-to-day basis. They also made it clear that residents were free to use the space whenever they wanted going forward.

The event they held was an important way of welcoming in their community, and it set the tone for many more to come. One of the primary functions of this workspace was to be able to work as a function venue. When choosing the furniture, they ensured that it was suitable for a range of different event purposes and that it could be conveniently moved around the office when needed.

We wanted to have the flexibility to hold workshops and host events, both for the companies we invest in and for the community that we want to get involved with.
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To deliver a scheme like this, LocalGlobe worked with Spanish Architecture studio, and our procurement team at eporta. The architects helped Emma & Rachel to devise colour schemes, and make the space entirely bespoke for their ethos. They also trusted the architects with assisting them in creating a scheme that could stand the test of time. As Emma put it, "we didn't want a design that was like ripped jeans, and only around for three years!"

As for our procurement team, we were there to help ensure that LocalGlobe had access to the right office furniture, at the best price. Rachel elaborated a little more on this partnership, "we had our existing design, and we knew how we wanted the place to look and feel. eporta were a really great support to help us find products to fit this brief."

Our architect would change his mind a lot - coming up with new funky, flamboyant ideas - eporta were able to cater to every change.

It was a pleasure to play a part in helping LocalGlobe deliver all they set out to for their clients and their community. If you'd like to know more about what our procurement team can do for you, let us know here.

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