It’s something Anthony Rose, CEO and co-founder of social networking app 6Tribes, appreciates more than most. His search for office space in London took him to a succession of “dingy buildings with long corridors and no windows – miserable places.” Anthony originally launched 6Tribes from his flat, “as with any good startup”, but with a team of five (now 14) employees, it became apparent that wasn’t sustainable.
“I quickly became despondent,” recalls Anthony. “It was clear that if you were looking for 15,000 sq ft or more, with a bathroom, kitchen, meeting rooms and so on, you were fine, but if you were too small for that, there was nothing.”Metal Box Factory, then, came as “a breath of fresh air. Everything’s new and bright.
You have to have an environment that gets you out of bed in the morning and makes you enthusiastic to go to work.” Flexibility was another factor on Anthony’s wish list. “As a startup you’re either going to fail or you’re going to grow quite quickly, but either way, you’re very unlikely to have the same number of people in a year as you have today,” he says. “Most office arrangements commit you to lengthy contracts, but how can you tell if you’ll have five, or 20, or 100 people in a few years’ time?” Workspace’s short-term agreements allow Anthony to scale up or down as he sees fit. “Even within 30 days if you want to move to a bigger or smaller office, in this building or another building, it’s like, sure, just let us know…”
'We’ve got friendly neighbours, who we can share stories with, talk to, who borrow stuff from us or come and test their own products on us, and vice versa. It’s a really wonderful community.'
Something tells us Anthony will only be scaling one way. The serial tech entrepreneur – he launched social TV app Beamly, and is a former head of BBC iPlayer – may have struck virtual gold with 6Tribes. Its aim is to cut through the social media “noise” we’re all subjected to daily: the endless baby pics, the Candy Crush invites, the posts from people you haven’t seen since 1998… “We realised the demand for something completely different,” says Anthony, “and so instead of connecting you with people you went to school with, 6Tribes connects you with people who share your interests, lifestyle or location. So if you’re a coffee geek, or you’re into fashion, or you love gardening, or you’re in the same business or location and so on, you can join a tribe for that, or start one.”
Metal Box is proving a useful testing ground. “People here help each other,” Anthony explains. “We can knock on doors and get feedback, say, ‘Hi, how are you finding the app?’. We’ve got friendly neighbours, who we can share stories with, talk to, who borrow stuff from us or come and test their own products on us, and vice versa. It’s a really wonderful community.”