The Startup Club was created by the TownSq Islington coworking space to help the local community start and grow a business. TownSq says that “the vast majority of people who start companies are not ‘business people’, who talk in acronyms or buzzwords.” Meaning that the majority of people who want to start a company are normal people, who want to explore creating their own business or the world of being self-employed.
Anna adds that “most people have work or childcare commitments and do not begin with a large financial outlay, where they can be unemployed for months to chase their dreams.” This is where the StartUp Club comes in to help. The StartUp Club programme holds sessions outside of working hours, to better accommodate for the communities work and childcare needs.
What is the purpose of the sessions?
The sessions were created for individuals to gain the basic skills and information needed to make their dream enterprise a reality. The sessions can range from creating a business and marketing plan to building the brand and identifying customers. What makes the sessions beneficial to clients is the network of peers that clients create and join. Anna explains that “working with other people, who are either going through the same challenges – or who have already solved them – helps people start something that sticks.”
The cohorts of the StartUp Club
Microgreens at Islington
Each cohort of the StartUp Club has led to a number of new businesses launching and growing. One such business is the mother and daughter team ofFrances Pairaudeau and Helena Hidalgo, who founded Greens Made Easy. The microgreens company came to every session of the StartUp Club and were given access to one of the workspaces in the community.
Anna Chuicharoen, Community Manager at TownSq, explains that the duo “wanted to work with the community, to basically feed families, helping them grow their ownnutritious greens.” The business has grown and is now part of the local London farmers market.
The local farmers market is a huge success and so it can be challenging to join, but the team now has a stall every week. The market is for artisans selling their crafts and that is exactly what the team does. Anna explains that Frances and Helene created a hummus out of the microgreens they grow and sell about 70 pots of it at the market.
Part of the first ever cohort of TownSq Islington’s StartUp Club, Frances and Helene continue to achieve success with their business, as they have created their own ecosystem in the borough, even partnering with local restaurants.
Another StartUp Club alumni is Timothy R. Andrews, who is the podcaster of Talking Hospitality, and has online e-learning courses, and focuses on the hospitality industry. Since the end of the course Timothy has soft launched his e-learning products, created his website, and began trading. Timothy said “since starting and completing the StartUp Club at TownSq I have grown in confidence.”
Timothy says that The TownSq Islington space he uses has been vital to his success, as it provides a good value workspace, but also gives him access to a vibrant business community. The real advantage that comes with coworking spaces is the sense of community that is created between coworkers. With their shared ideas, the ability to discuss issues they are facing, or simply having a chat over a cup of tea, that is the true value of coworking spaces such as TownSq Islington.
Timothy is now working with two businesses that are coworkers as they have synergies that could support each other. Timothy explains that “it is early days but how wonderful to be in a space where people genuinely talk to each other and we can discover these things!”
He has since picked up a new client from one of the TownSq Wisdom Wednesday workshops. He has also received funding from the Islington Council, a direct result of the networking events held by TownSq.
The business StartUp Club has been a valuable asset in terms of product or service development and clarity for Timothy. He explains that “I remain in touch with a number of the group on a social level which continues to be very supportive of one another.” Anna and Timothy have had over 100 meetings to ensure that he is still on the right track with his business, continuing that support and value that comes from the course.
Future of StartUp Club
The StartUp Club wants to scale up in the future. Anna explains that “we’re trying to streamline things. The sessions are online now, and I’m the community manager and am more involved in the delivery of the workshops.”
Being more involved and engaged with the workshops, and finding local trainers, will promote TownSq to scale up and offer an online platform. Providing this online platform offers coworkers more flexibility as they are now able to catch up on missed sessions.
Keep an eye out on TownSq Islington and their StartUp Club for more success stories, and if you are in the area be sure to check them out. They are located in 2-4 Old Street Yard, White Collar Factory, Islington, London. You can also find out more by heading to townsqislington.co.uk.